Academic Integrity: Providing Direction


Image by angelalola (2011). Retrieved from

Scenario 6. John and his friend Mike both have camera phones. Mike sits in the back of class and uses his phone to photograph the test for John, who is taking the test that afternoon. Mike then emails the photograph of the test to John’s phone (Ribble, 2011).

As we review digital rights and responsibilities this week we have been asked to consider a number of scenarios including the one above, that I selected for review. These three questions are to provide the framework for our responses.

Is the individual in the scenario using technology inappropriately?

What actions make the scenario appropriate or inappropriate?

What could or should the individual have done differently?

I think that most of us would agree that Mike is engaging in inappropriate behaviour that would be a breach of an educational institution’s academic integrity policies. If this was extrapolated into a non-technology scenario where Mike provided the test or test questions to John it would still constitute cheating.  Brock’s own Academic Integrity Policy provides clarity around what constitutes a student’s academic responsibilities, “Academic Dishonesty refers to a Student’s engagement (knowingly or otherwise) in behaviours that serve to deceive members of the University community in an effort to achieve academic benefit.”

This statement makes it clear that Mike is trying to provide an academic ‘edge’ for John should John choose to use it.

As I looked into this a little further, I found two articles that provided some context. With new and emerging technology, the onus is on the institution to make it very clear and specific the intent of their Acceptable Use Policy – and this needs to be a dynamic set of guidelines that evolves as technology progresses. Lawrence (2012) states that many students who have grown up in a digital age do not always understand what actions constitute an academic breach – see her interesting blog here.  If educators want to ensure that digital rights and responsibilities are appropriately understood and practiced by all then Acceptable Use language needs to be embedded into every course and not just found on an institutional web page link that students may or may not read.

Additionally, I found some data regarding WHY students cheat and how educators and students  can work collaboratively to diminish it as a practice. This article was quite enlightening and somewhat alarming as it provides insight into the tensions between learners and educators. Further, it discusses the longer-term impacts of using technology to cheat early in education that can carry over to higher education and the workplace.


2 thoughts on “Academic Integrity: Providing Direction

  1. Digital Dave says:

    Interesting extrapolation you presented. If this was done without technology – simply stealing a copy of the test – no one would challenge the fact it was cheating. But add in technology and people’s thinking gets fuzzy. It’s funny the onus is on the educational institution to clarify what cheating is. Sounds a lot like our judicial system!

  2. I think we can all agree that what Mike has done is both ethically and morally wrong. However as Dave mentioned, what doesn’t make sense to me is that the institution has to state in their AUP what constitutes cheating. I am aware that this technology boom has happened faster than anyone would have ever expected, but there is no excuse as to how this behaviour is not deemed cheating unanimously in educational institutions worldwide.

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