Once a “Cheater”, Always a “Cheater”

In the wee morning hours, you’ll find them sitting there huddled around a table or crouched around a tight spot on the floor. There they sit “sharing” their homework.

Yep, some call it sharing. Some call it comparing. Others call it helping. Many call it studying. Most educators would call it cheating.

This scene repeats itself at lunch and in the hallways during passing periods where it is often the sharing of what took place in earlier classes, what was on the quiz or test, and what was or wasn’t collected.

Maybe we should ban their ability to connect? Maybe we should ban their ability to socialize? Maybe we should ban their ability to talk? Maybe we should ban notebooks, paper assignments, and brains that store this information that can easily be transferred to other students?

Why do we barely bat an eye at this, yet we quickly jump to all the “cheating” that will take place if we allow mobile learning devices? Why do we support the banning of mobile learning devices to protect the sanctity of “your” classroom, yet the realities of what could take place with these devices is already happening in analog means?

Maybe we should ban bad assignments and poor assessments, and reallocate class time for collaboration, inquiry, project-based learning, and innovation. Maybe we should ban learning in isolation and keep in mind that today’s cheating is tomorrow’s collaboration.

Technology hasn’t created these problems. It has simply brought to light things that have always been there. It has simply brought these discussions back to the forefront of our thinking. Stop thinking it is a technology problem, get to the root of the problem, and utilize the knowledge we have about what it means to be a good educator.


cc licensed flickr photo by Brunel University: http://flickr.com/photos/bruneluniversity/3720174796/


  1. I think you’re right. These problems have always been there… but in ways that most educators have understood… and sometimes chooses to ignore. With new technologies that are embedded in cultural shifts that have left many educators behind, there is so much that they don’t understand and have not personally experienced that it is sometimes an easier approach just to ban (stick head in sand). It won’t be much longer that this will fly. While heads are in the sand, learners will just choose to move on to other spaces where they can connect and learn in ways that make sense to them.

  2. I don’t believe that kids cheat more now that they have phones. But I have found that “today’s cheating” obstructs “tomorrow’s collaboration,” because once kids have spent today’s focus time on finding the person with the answer and copying it rather than reading the text, figuring out how they feel about an assignment and then strategizing how to approach it in a group setting, then they are ill prepared to offer much of substance once collaboration starts. Now I teach English, so it may be different in other disciplines. But the kids that only know ABOUT a play or poem or novel almost never offer much of substance to those who have actually experienced it…not to mention feeling any of the emotion that comes with a close reading of something powerful. It isn’t a tech problem, it’s a lack of curiosity or fear of adventure, maybe.

  3. I definitely agree that educators along with parents have seen technological devices in classrooms as a cheating source, but fail to realize how much cheating is already happening without them (many times because “cheating” has so many wishy-washy definitions). Learning is wonderful, but what about offering new ways to learn by using our brains for real and not simply trying to memorize things from a book. I truly believe that the classroom should be more project and collaboratively driven because it seems that this is how we learn the best. Learn by doing, not by memorizing. Maybe if we do this, it will be tough to even want to “cheat” or find a way of doing it because we are learning out of the box.



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