This theme of cheating as learning or cheating in learning is really rich for Week 1. I’ll start with some quick observations and assumptions around cheating in the learning process. These observations assume that learning in whatever manner, should be applicable in the “real world” (whatever that is, if your learning is already taking place in the real world).
1) If I can cheat easily, ie, look up the answer to a question to find an answer accepted as “fact”– well, where is it, exactly, that I will be in the real world that I won’t be able to use the same method to find this information. Why are are you asking me this question anyway?
2) If a class is organized to encourage group work, or study groups and we share methods and answers on practice tests or exercises, is that cheating? Or is that group work? Where is the line?
3) What kind of cheating will have real consequences in one’s professional world? Plagiarism comes to mind. But there are boundaries and nuance around “borrowing” work as long as it’s properly synthesized and cited–ie, there are requisite ethics around remixing, but certainly being aware of and referencing the work of others is a requirement of being part of a world of knowledge.
Dave’s challenge this week was: Use cheating as a weapon. How can you use the idea of cheating as a tool to take apart the structures that you work in? What does it say about learning? About power? About how you see teaching?
What if we replace the word “cheating” with “challenging the status quo?” Does that fit? It doesn’t feel like the same question. Cheating is just a little too pejorative a term for me to get comfortable with. The idea of cheating implies that there are right and wrong ways to demonstrate knowledge. At the same time, those might translate into professional ethics in particular circumstances. The problem with the term is that someone, somewhere is setting the rules about what cheating entails. Some of the source of acceptable practices might be from those in charge, some from traditional practice, some from professional best practice and standards. How can we be certain, when we are part of those defining what it means to “cheat,” that we focus on creating learning situations that by their very nature are asking the learner to engage in experiences where it is challenging to cheat.
An example might be having the learner apply key concepts to their own experience. There is a way that someone could cheat even with this… One could really just not try. I think there is a need to parse out the idea of cheating to separate clever solutions to problems that others perceive as a shortcut versus someone taking a short cut because they are afraid to try or don’t want to try. What do others think?
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