Monday marked the beginning of National Distance Learning Week. The week is sponsored by the United States Distance Learning Association (USDLA) and seeks to “promote and celebrate the tremendous growth and accomplishments occurring today in distance learning programs offered by schools, businesses, and governmental departments.”
Distance education continues to gain popularity and enrollments continue to rise. According to the 2012 Babson Survey Research Group’s Survey of Online Learning over 6.7 million students were taking at least one online course in fall 2011. Thirty-two percent of higher education students also fall into this category.
Academic integrity remains a concern, both in traditional face-to-face instruction and in online programs. According to a study from the recent turn of the century, 64 percent of faculty and 57 percent of students surveyed reported that they thought it would be easier to cheat in an online environment than in a traditional lecture course. Interestingly enough, a separate study by George Watson and James Sottile showed that cheating in online courses is no more rampant than cheating in live classes, but students were significantly more likely to obtain answers from others during an online test or quiz.
Moving forward, educating students about the various forms of cheating can prove to be a beneficial tool in combatting academic dishonesty. According to research headed by a leading researcher on the topic, Donald McCabe, “traditional academic honor codes are generally associated with lower levels of student academic dishonesty.”