Academic Integrity in an eLearning Environment

graduation cap and scrollThere are many ways to discourage academic dishonesty in virtual settings. There are several tools or methods available to monitor academic honesty – differentiated assessments, frequent writing patterns, originality detection software, and the Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) itself.

Differentiated Assessments
eLearn teachers employ a variety of assessment types and formats which allow for student choice and voice in their learning and evaluation. This process also ensures that student work is completed by the student themselves and not with use of any online intelligence/technological tools.
Frequent Writing Patterns
The student’s written voice is almost always the only “voice” the teacher recognizes. Throughout the eLearning course, there are many opportunities for teachers to get used to the student’s “written voice” (e.g., the student’s common writing pattern, common mistakes) that they notice when the writing pattern is inconsistent with previous work. In this respect, teachers of eLearning courses often comment that it is easier to identify academic dishonesty in eLearning courses than it is in face-to-face courses.
Originality Detection Software
Turnitin is a powerful online tool that teachers use to discourage plagiarism and facilitate rich, meaningful feedback that improves writing skills and promotes critical thinking. Turnitin provides teachers and students with many tools to help encourage original authorship such as their Originality Checker, DraftCoach, and eRater features. These tools use leading technology to help teachers and students check for originality before, during, and after student workmanship.
The Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) automatically keeps track of all student log-ins, the IP address of the machine being used, and the total time logged-in for each session. The VLE is used by teachers to manage their eLearning courses and includes many features to identify potential dishonesty (e.g., “progress tools”) to monitor student access. Other features (e.g., the “quiz tool”) allow teachers to differentiate tests and assignments so that students receive random questions or tasks. Another feature (i.e., the “drop-box summary”) allows teachers to monitor submission of assignments.

Academic dishonesty can be a problem in any setting – elementary schools, secondary schools, post-secondary schools, face-to-face and eLearning. No teacher can eliminate it outright, but teachers of eLearning courses have many tools to make academic dishonesty difficult.