Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The New Age of Cheating

Gone are those old excuses of hungry dogs, dead relatives, and being deathly ill....
Now The Chronicle comes out with a new excuse, "My paper was stolen by an essay mill!"

I was working with a professor earlier this week, and she asked me if I felt plagiarism was a problem. I said 'most definitely'. Every professor should be, at least, running a sample of student papers through 'Turnitin' on every assignment. I personally prefer to have students do it themselves, as I see it as a 'teachable moment'. This professor was shocked when I said I had found the complete assignment for another professor and course on the web, for free. (I didn't mention that there were half a dozen other assignments for about $20 through the various cheat houses like Echeat, Fratfiles, and CheatHouse)

Professors need to be aware of these easy options to students and combat it by taking time to build more unique and personalized assignments. Curt Bonk's books have a number of great resources on this idea. MBA students should have personal experiences to draw on for papers, and be required to include those specialized bits of information not covered in a general, off-the-shelf essay.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Tegrity Recording

Thunderbird's distance learning programs use Tegrity recordings extensively in all our courses. We generally recommend short (less than 20 minute clips) for each week of classes. Classes generally have 1-4 Tegrity session per week. Most are pre-recorded, and include an overview of the week's assignments, topics, and lecture content. We also have 'technical' sessions for some classes to show the steps for working through a problem, or developing a spreadsheet.

Finally, many professors do a 'spontaneous' Tegrity session to wrap up the week's events, and provide feedback to the students on their case discussions. These recordings are done from wherever the professor is located, and sometimes include airport terminals, or vacation spots with family. I think they add a lot to the personal connection between faculty and students.

Recently, we've also added the feature to allow students to record online presentations for their classes.

Tegrity is holding a number of webinars on incorporating the technology into distance courses. You can sign up here.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Educause Conference

Whenever I am starting to feel burned out, I find that attending a conference (virtual or live) inspires me to keep working toward our goals of having a great distance learning program. Last week, I attended a virtual conference with Educause. One of the great things about virtual conferences, is you can see most of the presentations again, or if you have a conflict, you can watch them later.

I watched this presentation live on Getting our Values Around Copyright Right, and I thought it was fantastic for a number of reasons. One, it really did help me understand how educators could use materials and question some of the ridiculous rules around 'fair use'. Secondly, it was one of the best lectures with PowerPoint that I have ever seen. Too often we dismiss PowerPoint as the death of a classroom, with little interaction or interest. Here you can see how it should be used, as an emphasis to what the presenter is showing, not a distraction or a bore. Enjoy!