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"I believe that education is the civil rights issue of our generation." – U.S. Secretary Arne Duncan, October 9, 2009

The Combat Against Cheating: Forever a Game of Cat and Mouse

I recently heard from a friend that students occasionally pay someone to walk into their lecture hall and take their finals for them. For starters, I can’t imagine anyone willing to take such risks, getting away with the crime, and that the faculty administering the tests fail to take precautions. Secondly, it’s astonishing that students can become so desperate as to rise to such dishonest conduct.

Academic dishonesty was brought to my attention once again when I read Online Classes See Cheating Go High-Tech, which quite frankly, spurred some feelings of resentment. The fact there are students who have cheated their way through school and get to bask in the glory of claiming a degree makes me furious. I’m going to be completely honest–I’ve worked very hard in my academics in hopes that one day I’d get the job of my dreams. But if I am up against someone for a job who has falsified their education, and they get the position over me—that is messed up!

So I was pleased to hear from the article that there are people out there who have recognized this problem and are coming together to combat academic cheating. Programs have been designed to catch plagiarism and are continuously being refined. Additionally, efforts are currently being made to advance the security of online courses. Innovations such as requiring students to login by taking a photo of themselves via web-cam and the development of programs that analyze typing styles are also being explored.

It’s great that people are working to fight this problem, however, I have concerns over whether their efforts will yield positive, sustaining results. Students are smart, share cheating techniques with one another, and can become desperate enough to put in time and effort to crack anti-cheating technology. I fear that the clash between cheaters and those who attempt to combat against them may forever be a game of cat and mouse.

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