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New ways to cheat at school

Attention:

This is a “head’s up” to teachers [professors, bosses, supervisors, etc].  Writing and bringing cheat sheets, copying off neighbor’s tests, buying essays online, texting answers to one another and plagiarizing are ways students use to cheat.  But now there is a new way to add a procrastination method to the list of cheating

…and it’s not Facebook.

Proof:

Document Corrupter, by Neddy Winter, does just what it says.  It corrupts documents.  Neddy totes it like this:

We have all been in the situation where we have half-finished work due tomorrow. You can upload a unfinished word document and this tool will modify it so that it cannot be opened. You can send the corrupted file instead to buy yourself some extra time.http://neddyy.net/docs/

So if dealing with cheating and plagiarism wasn’t enough, now teachers need to lookout for this awful new method that students are employing.

Strategy:

As a teacher or educator we are thinking to ourselves, “Oh no!  This is not good.  Is there any way that I can combat this new way to cheat?”  Initially, there is not a program or service that can tell you the file has been put through the document corrupter, but you can try some of these solutions:

  • Tell students you are aware of the Document Corrupter
  • Insist that students save their file revisions in DropBox – They can always go back to an earlier saved version
  • Tell students that corrupted files are still counted as late
  • Tell students they must send you two file formats: PDF and DOCx
  • Ask students to give you drafts or compartmentalized pieces of large assignments
  • Employ the use of Google Docs instead
  • If a document shows up corrupted to your email and you have your doubts, ask a student to immediately send you an print-screen image-file of the closing argument from their computer.  Also ask them to look in their Dropbox to get an older version to send you

To help fight against procrastination:

  • Help students to create an “un-schedule”

“a weekly calendar of all of your committed activities. It can help you accomplish your goal in two ways. First, in looking ahead to how much of your time is already committed, you will see the maximum amount of time you have left over to work toward your goal. Secondly, creating an unschedule helps you at the end of your week as you can look back and see where your time has actually gone” (Burka, Jane B, and Lenora M. Yuen. Procrastination. Reading: Addison-Wesley
Publishing Company, 1983.)

To fight plagiarism:

  • Use turnitin.com “The global leader in addressing plagiarism and delivering rich feedback”
  • Have students use this resource before they submit something to you, to see where they may not have realized they were plagiarizing

Good luck to you all.  Don’t come back to me later saying, “What can I do now? Students are sending me corrupted files.  I think they have figured out this method.”

Did you procrastinate yourself in getting them to set up a DropBox account?  I don’t want to get a corrupted file hearing all about it.  🙂

Note: I almost recommend strategies like this.  As a teacher, I like to allow ‘one post it note’ as a cheat-sheet for students.  It means the students are perusing the information they should be studying, making decisions about what is the most important information, and then rewriting the information, which is a good way to study.

 
 

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Computer Labs are made wrong. Here’s why:

Attention:

Get rid of rows of computers in your school!!

How many schools have you been to where the computer labs are a room full of 20-30 computers lined up in rows around a the room?

Lots?

Me too.

This is old school thinking and it’s wrong.  A computer lab should not be row upon row of computers. There is no need. We have wifi and students have laptops of their own (or they should).

More and more forward-thinking schools are implementing laptop programs.  If this is the case, get rid of the desktops. Put them in the library or put two or three computers in each classroom.  Donate them to the office staff or the underprivileged school down the road.  Be more savvy when you invest the money into technology.

Proof:

“Results confirm the hypotheses that [students] seated in circles engage in significantly more on-task behavior than those in rows and that [student] seated in clusters engage in more on-task behavior than those in rows but less than those in circles.” http://psycnet.apa.org/index.cfm?fa=buy.optionToBuy&id=1985-18658-001

Yet most computer classrooms in schools still have row upon row.  The desktop computer no longer needs to be the standard.  The laptop, the tablet and the smart phone are smaller, useful technologies that need to be employed effectively.

Computer classroom designers might take a look at leaders in the field, Google’s and Facebook’s headquarters, to see what fun engaging design looks like:

GOOGLE

     

images from http://www.reactorr.com/blog/index.php/2009/08/google-land/

FACEBOOK

images from: http://freshome.com/2009/10/15/facebook-headquarters-in-california/

I wish schools I have seen or worked at looked fun like this.

Strategy:

Then what should the computer classroom of 2011 and beyond be?

  • Outdoors – Why limit the confines of classroom learning to a classroom?  Get kids outside experiencing and doing, with tablets and cellphones connected to the internet as supporting reference tools or better yet as creation tools for capturing, writing about, drawing and much more.  Take students on trips to the mall, the store, the field, behind the school, the cafeteria, and nature. Read more about outdoor classrooms here.
  • If educators have to works indoors, two words: Beanbag chairs (Swiss balls could also work– They are lightweight, movable workstations.  Put electric/data ports for charging and connectivity throughout the floor of EVERY classroom and put lots on the walls. (At least until they mass market wireless electricity)
  • Group centers and Circles can easily be formed by the teacher for collaborative physical meeting points.
  • With the new-found money in the budget, invest in specialized media centers: graphics tablets, video raid systems, video greenscreens, music stations and studios with sound editing capabilities. Computers aren’t just for using the Microsoft products.  Start thinking about how the other subjects like art, drama, phys ed, and science can be using them.
  • Fitness rooms with setups to place tablets are a must.  Make sure you have speakers to plug those iPods into.
  • iPads and iMovie are a must for drama class and why not for the sports field.
  • Wacom tablets are a new must for art class which can now also be called Digital Design class.
Administrators and educators:
Think outside the box.  Redefine the computer classroom.  Think Engaging. Think Useful. Think Fun! Invest more in your wifi.  
Good luck with the future.
 

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Online Learning: Good or Bad?

I was recently in a forum where Berno Nilssonasked asked the question, “What do you think about online learning?”

My response was:

I believe that online learning is a growing educational forum.  I feel that all educators need to consider this as something that is not an alternative but is considered necessary integration in education.  Students today are living online.  We need to meet them in the arena they know best.

Judith Hammock, another responder, wrote:

I believe that online distance learning will continue to build momentum in the future. It brings education to students who do not have access to colleges and universities and provides them opportunities they never had before. Online teaching, to me, requires some special skills. These include the ability to show your enthusiasm for your subject matter through writing, good organizational skills, and the ability to engage your students without your physical presence.

Having had experience with online learning both with teaching and as a student, I feel that the best instructors provide a caring atmosphere which keeps the students engaged.

Conversely there is the argument that online learning takes away from the personal, humanness that we should nurture as we grow.  We need to tread slowly in this journey into the digital.  For example C. L. Max Nikias writes:
…between the ages of 17 and 22, a person’s mind and spirit open wide, as she begins to explore her world, her place in it, and what she intends to contribute to her society. It is during this age that some of a person’s most intense bonds and affiliations take shape. Because of this, the best undergraduate college or university education should be experienced in community, so that shared social, athletic and cultural experiences can be as mutually transforming as the intellectual experiences inside the classroom, library or laboratory.
My argument is also that online learning does not need to be separate from learning at school, especially in earlier years.  Teachers should be guiding students through ways to learn online.  I have a blog post that talks about Searching beyond Google and a page that Explores ways to Collaborate Online.
 
 

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