How students can google their way to an A

Maggie Curran, Opinion Editor

Online classes and assignments are, in theory, the most accessible form of education. The manifest function of them is pretty obvious: the convenience of learning anytime, anywhere, with the same quality education offered in a classroom setting. This concept is no doubt appealing to not only those with busy schedules, but also anyone that simply can’t always bring themselves to leave the comfort of their home. However, with the ease of online learning comes the latent effect almost every student who has taken an online course or assessment has realized: it’s often incredibly easy, and almost compelling, to put little to no effort into one’s work.

For the most part, it’s clear to professors that putting an assignment, test, or quiz online means that students will use their notes to complete it. Outside of the classroom, there is no way to control the resources students use to make the grade. It is similar to how, in high school, students thrive by asking their peers, who have already had class for the day, about test questions and answers to help prepare them for what’s to come. And, in the spirit of teamwork, most people comply and relay whatever information they can remember from the exam.

However, students in online classes today can take resourcefulness to a new level. Ten years ago, teachers could use recycled or copied questions from other educators and no student would have any clue that their professor didn’t make the assessment themself. Today, students can simply copy and paste test questions into Google and thousands of results posted by others around the globe, some word for word, show up in seconds, as well as the answers.

Even the most honest and hardworking students can be tempted to fall prey to the ease of cheating when it comes to online work, mostly because it doesn’t really seem like cheating at all. The word “cheating” conjures up images of scraps of paper hidden up shirtsleeves and eyes wandering to another person’s exam. Typically, cheating requires conniving effort and involves risk for students, but nothing appears difficult or dangerous about using the resources available in the click of a button.

Also, in reality, it’s hard to believe that teachers are truly unaware of the available methods their students can use to complete work online. If a teacher found exam questions using the Internet, there is no way they could be surprised if students find the answers on it as well. However, just because this culture of reusing and sharing material online is accepted, albeit never actually discussed, doesn’t mean it’s okay. There would be no problem if students were really learning the information in the process, but given how mindless the act of copying and pasting is, the level of acquiring knowledge of the material can’t possibly be that high.

Because of this lack of retention, the blame cannot be put on the method of teaching, but on those being taught. Instead of working as little as possible, it’s important to work as efficiently as possible. By all means, use your available resources, but don’t forget about the real reason you’re taking an online class, or any class for that matter: to learn.