Recently an assignment got me thinking about what it is to work individually when you are in an online environment. When I was in my undergraduate it was very clearly explained to us during lectures what constituted academic dishonesty. This included having another student read your work prior to submission–but not in all cases. There were also projects that involved peer editing or group work. In some cases collaboration was encouraged in some cases it was not. There was a list of policies presented to us in each syllabus at the beginning of the course. However, nothing prevented students from gathering in the library or computer labs to talk over their assignments. There was also class time or office hours if you needed the support of the instructor.
With online learning things may be a little different. The library is social networking and the teacher’s office is through email. And areas that may be considered dishonest can become a little grey. After all the communication is written, and so copy and pasting sections to which you are referring to…Isn’t that getting help from other students? In order to avoid this I think it is helpful for the instructor or instructional designer to embed the expectations on individual and collaborative assignments, because policy can be overlooked or misunderstood.
Tony Bates on cheating: “Cheating is often the result of a poor educational process or experience. Once again, this comes down to the distinction between learning as transferring information vs learning as a developmental process. If, as I do, you believe education is a developmental process, it is the student in the end who loses from cheating, because they have missed the point of the exercise, which is self development and growth.”
I leave you with a very entertaining article written by a man who is said to “be writing your students work”.