Note: this is a cross post from my Dad blog, but I thought the topic would be of interest to you as well.
Does your teenager have a cell phone? If they do, there is a good chance they are using it to cheat at school according to a new report by Common Sense Media.
Key findings from the report say that more than 1/3 of teens with cell phones admit to having used them to cheat at school, while over 1/2 of all teens admitted to using some form of cheating involving the Internet.
According to the report, we parents are living in denial. Not that this practice exists in schools – 76% of us believe that cell phone cheating is happening in school – but only 3% of us believe our kids are doing it.
Hmmmm, 35% of kids admit to doing it, but only 3% of their parents believe they are doing it. That is a big digital denial divide.
But really the question we as parents need to be asking is not whether our kids are cheating or not (although that is a very important question), but rather what is cheating? Perhaps it is time to take a long hard look at what we think cheating is in the digital age. If we do, then we might come to the conclusion that how we define cheating may actually be hurting our kids.
For example, is it cheating for students to collaborate with their peers to find the answer to problems? 1 in 4 of the students in the survey don’t think so and I tend to agree with them. After all, is this not what we “grownups” do in real life? When we need to figure out a problem, what do we do? We tap into our personal networks and fire up the web. Isn’t collaborating to figure out a solution to a problem something we want to foster in our kids?
And is it so wrong for students to use the most game changing educational tool called the Internet to find answers? I mean, why do we ask kids to pretend that this massively useful tool does not exist? Why do we insist that they need to be able to work inside a bubble to solve problems?
What I do have a problem with is a student taking someone else’s work and turning it in as their own. That, to me, is my moral threshold. But collaborating with their peers using technology to solve problems? That is something we should be rewarding, not punishing.
I realize this may seem like an extreme position to take, and it is fraught with a whole can of worms that educators have to deal with (not the least of which is how do teachers really assess learning), but I think we need to take a long hard look at how we define cheating in a digital age. If we do then we might just discover that what we think of as cheating is actually an essential skill our kids are going to need to thrive in a digital world.
Photo: Poor Marc Has No Idea She CHEATS! by Mr_Stein used under Creative Commons license.
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