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Letter - Online learning, a temptation to academic dishonesty

2021-04-23  Staff Reporter

Letter - Online learning, a temptation to academic dishonesty
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I am not here to insult anyone or question anyone or any institution’s credibility and principles, but am just a concerned citizen. Anyone who went through university will tell you that at one point you will be tempted to cheat, and it takes only principled individuals to withstand these temptations. Now what if the temptation becomes normalised? These are all opinions, so don’t roast me please.

First of all, I truly agree with the saying “desperate times calls for desperate measures”, and I am a really open-minded person who believes in change, but I am also not oblivious to the future prospects and barricades.

Most students see this current online education offered by our universities as a blessing in disguise, but I see it as a time bomb and we have to expect a doom’s day in future whether we like it or not.

Those who will live long enough will attest to my words one day. Yes, we need to embrace and move with the innovative tide, but at the same time we need to have our institutional reputations protected. The same should apply to our students, whose self-discipline should not fall under these temptations of cheating and academic dishonesty of crucial and equal importance.

It is a fact that the so called “online learning” has helped to ease, prevent, and has minimised the Covid-19 transmission to a good extent, but it is also cementing and breeding another problem in the long run. It is like running over dozens of eggs trying to save a chicken from a cayote. Yes, you are saving the chicken, but at the same time depriving yourself from future hens.

I speculatively say the current cheating extent to which this online learning and teaching is, really deserves attention and it is very much worrisome, especially when it comes to assessment and as far as quality assurance is concerned. Don’t ask me to give you proof on this because this is an obvious thing that happens whenever there is no proper monitoring in any institution, so I really won’t be able to.

In my opinion, there is no harm in offering online lectures and classes, but I do question the credibility of the assessment when crucial aspects like tests and quizzes and so forth are offered in an online mode. This is because of the lack of proper supervision that goes on behind the scenes of these assessments, as far as cheating and academic dishonesty is concerned. 

In the past we have heard of people trying to sneak into examination halls in order to write test papers on behalf of students. Now if this was happening during those times, with the tight security provided by these universities and colleges, what about now that students can just pay someone to write for them in the comfort of their living room?

What type of graduates are we currently grooming in our universities? I think we are grooming dummies and numbskulls that will put on those gowns with ‘tabula rasa’ minds that completely have no idea of how the academic world functions and operates, as they were never part of the real learning process. Excuse my language there.

The irony of it all is the real people who deserve those accolades are the very own Zimbabweans that the so called “educated ones” among us despise and look down on in these streets, as they are the ones really putting in all the work from the get-go. 

Online learning is not a bad thing though, and it is the only option we have right now during this time of uncertainty, but it also needs to be properly regulated before this thing blows up into a much bigger systemic issue. Now coming to the students, my advice to you is: You should always try to maintain your principles and have a strong sense of self moral conviction whenever you are tempted to do it.

2021-04-23  Staff Reporter

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