Taking a Test Online? THEY Know What You Are Doing.

With online and auto-graded tests becoming more common these days, it shouldn’t be a surprise that there is a market for teachers and professors to ensure that their students are not cheating on tests and quizzes. However, should teachers and professors disclose that they are using these features? Ethically, for me, it is an easy yes.

Still, some teachers and professors will want to play a game of ‘gotcha’ and violate their students’ trust in the process. I’m all for student accountability, but I am also all for transparency.

That said, I was surprised when I test drove Canvas LMS and looked at the analytics page for each student. It told me lots of useful information, all of which would be helpful to my instruction, but it also let me know what the student was doing inclusive of whether or not my student clicked off the page during a quiz or test. Shocked, I realized that a lot of clicking back and forth between Canvas and whatever else during the exam could indicate possible cheating (e.g. by looking at other websites or digital notes).

Alarmed, I posted to a Harvard Facebook group I belong to because in my 4 years (yes, I took a longer than I should have), no professor had ever shared this with my classes:

One person in the Facebook group respectfully asserted that we are actually told that our actions are being tracked each time we take a test. However, this was simply not the case for me throughout my program and judging from the conversation, I am not so sure that she recalled correctly:

See what I mean? In any case, teachers and professors who leverage analytics to infer if a student has cheated should ensure to inform students of behavior tracking before taking quizzes and exams. While it is unethical for students to cheat, it is my position that it is just as unethical to not let students know that their movements are being tracked. This is a privacy issue that should be taken seriously.

Finally, while I’m not really sure that a whole lot of clicking back and forth between a quiz or test would warrant enough evidence to call together a disciplinary action hearing board, why risk it?

Be honest, and study like the rest of us.

So what do you think? Please comment below and don’t forget to share on social media!

About Dr. Michael Lozano

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