Where’s the Line

Oddly, as I searched Flickr for creative commons licensed photos with 'coding' in the title, a large portion of them involved a laptop computer along side a desert plate with a chunky brownie or a generous slice of pie.
There’s a famous story about a student who, when assigned to write a report about a topic, started his report as a Wikipedia article.  Then, over the following days, he watched while Wikipedia editors fleshed out his article, until, on the due date, he copied the text from the online encyclopedia,pasted it into his word processor and confidently turned it in. [Image ((Duhem-Verdière, Romy. “SPIP Coding Party.” Romytetue’s Photostream. 4 Mar 2006. 28 Jun 2008 . ))] 

He got caught!  But in listening to the story we either respond, “Oh! That’s dreadful!” or “Woe, that’s resourceful!”  I talk about this in my video games presentation, that we really need more than one word for cheating, that some of the cheating that gammers engage in is actually quite resourceful, figuring out how to accomplish the goals by changing the rules. 

We don’t do this in real life?

Anyway, this brings me to something I read this morning in Slashdot, a quote from an anonymous reader…

“Students studying computing in the UK and US are outsourcing their university coursework to graduates in India and Romania. Work is being contracted out for as little as ?5 on contract coding websites usually used by businesses. Students are outsourcing everything from simple coursework to full blown final year dissertations. It’s causing a major headache for lecturers who say it is almost impossible to detect.”

Clearly, this is cheating, taking credit for someone elses work.  I’m wondering though, Where is the line?  At what point do we forgive, or even encourage resourceful and inventive shortcutting, and at what point does it become … well, cheating?

Interstingly, if those students graduate and get their jobs, much of their work will be outsourced to India or Romania.

Author: David Warlick

David Warlick has been an educator for the past 40+ years. He continues to do some writing, but is mostly seeking his next intersect between play, passion and purpose, dabbling in photography, drone videography and music production.