Why schools need “safe sharing sites” for students: Promoting academic integrity with ethical approaches to file-sharing

March 3, 2021

#ICAI2021 - Eaton quoteCommercial file-sharing and homework help sites have proliferated during the COVID-10 pandemic. One recent news report states that Chegg is now worth $12 Billion USD. And that’s just one company.

During the 2021 International Center for Academic Integrity conference, there were a few sessions dedicated to how to deal with companies such as Chegg, CourseHero and other commercial entities. One answer might be for schools themselves to create “safe sharing sites” for students.

The idea is similar to that of safe consumption sites for those who use drugs to do so in a monitored and safe environment. The purpose of a supervised or safe consumption site is to support harm reduction for users.

To transfer the analogy to academic file sharing, if students are going to share files anyway, it is incumbent upon schools provide them with safe and supported ways for them to do so. Safe sharing sites can promote ethical decision-making, minimize academic misconduct, and foster a sense of school community where profs, administrators, and students are working together to uphold integrity.

The onus is on educational institutions to support students’ learning. When schools invest in student learning through institutionally-supported tools and platforms, they support the student experience. Developing safe sharing sites is one viable way to address the problem of unethical file-sharing.

Putting resources into trying to combat global corporate entities whose primary purpose is to make a profit from our students is a losing battle. Putting effort into submitting requests to take down materials from corporate third party sites is like a game of whack-a-mole we can never win. As I commented in one of the conference presentations during the ICAI conference: Schools paying for a commercial file-sharing site account in order to find out what is on their website is like paying a drug dealer to find out what is in their pills. When schools pay for an account on corporate 3rd party sites, we help to finance the industry we are advocating against.

As educational institutions, we must find ways to work with our students, not against them. File-sharing is a normal online behaviour, so let’s provide students with the tools to do what they are going to do any way in safe and supported ways that help them – and us – uphold integrity on our campuses.

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This blog has had over 2 million views thanks to readers like you. If you enjoyed this post, please “like” it or share it on social media. Thanks!

Sarah Elaine Eaton, PhD, is a faculty member in the Werklund School of Education, and the Educational Leader in Residence, Academic Integrity, University of Calgary, Canada.

Opinions are my own and do not represent those of the University of Calgary or anyone else.


Webinar: Contract Cheating and Cryptocurrency with Dr. Joel Reardon

November 12, 2020

man creating a presentation on laptop

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Join Dr. Joel Reardon for insights into the role cryptocurrency plays in the outsourcing of academic work, also known as contract cheating, which is s serious breach of academic integrity. Learn what cryptocurrency is, how it works and how it can be used to purchase assignments, theses and other academic work.

Presenter: Dr. Joel Reardon, Assistant Professor, Department of Computer Science, University of Calgary.  Check out Dr. Reardon’s faculty profile.

Learning Objectives

By the end of this session participants will be able to:

  • Describe what cryptocurrency is.
  • Understand how cryptocurrency functions.
  • Understand the connection between cryptocurrency and contract cheating.

This session is part of the webinar series, “Academic Integrity: Urgent and Emerging Topics”, hosted by the Taylor Institute for Teaching and Learning. The series is convened by Dr. Sarah Elaine Eaton, Educational Leader in Residence, Academic Integrity.

Webinar date: Friday, 11 December, 2020

Time: 10:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Mountain Time. Please convert to your own local time zone.

Registration Info

Register here. (Hint: Look for Course #TI0747-004 near the bottom of the page).

Deadline to register: 9 December 2020.

The session will be recorded and a link to the recording will be shared with registered participants. Even if you cannot make the webinar in live format, please register in order to receive the link to the recorded version.

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This blog has had over 2 million views thanks to readers like you. If you enjoyed this post, please “like” it or share it on social media. Thanks!

Sarah Elaine Eaton, PhD, is a faculty member in the Werklund School of Education, and the Educational Leader in Residence, Academic Integrity, University of Calgary, Canada. Opinions are my own and do not represent those of the University of Calgary.


Public talk: “The Latest Research on Big Tech and the Cheating Industry” – November 5, 2020

November 1, 2020

CPL logo

I’m excited to be working with the Knowledge Engagement Team at the Calgary Public Library to give a talk next week on contract cheating and term paper mills.

Description

Explore the world of essay-mills, homework completion services, academic-file sharing sites and other contract cheating companies. Ads on social media are often framed as “help”, implying and promoting academic misconduct. Learn how the industry works, how they trick students into buying from them, and the consequences that can ensue.

Date: Thursday, November 5, 2020

Time: 19:00 – 20:00 (Mountain Time)

Where: Online

Register here.

Audience: This is a general interest talk is intended for the public. Everyone is welcome.

Registration is required. The link to attend will be sent to registered participants.

This talk will not be recorded, but if you can’t make it feel free to connect with me about doing a presentation for your group.

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This blog has had over 2 million views thanks to readers like you. If you enjoyed this post, please “like” it or share it on social media. Thanks!

Sarah Elaine Eaton, PhD, is a faculty member in the Werklund School of Education, and the Educational Leader in Residence, Academic Integrity, University of Calgary, Canada. Opinions are my own and do not represent those of the University of Calgary.


New Report: Contract Academic Work and Contract Cheating: Policy Brief

October 19, 2020

Cover - Contract academic work contract cheatingThe week of October 18-23, 2020 marks Fair Employment Week, hosted by the Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT). In many countries, it also marks Integrity Week, built around the International Day of Action Against Contract Cheating. These weeks have coincided for the past several years. A few years ago, I began to study the intersection of contract academic work and contract cheating (e.g., essay mills, term paper mills, etc.)

This report offers a preliminary discussion of the intersection between precarious academic employment and the commercial contract cheating industry. I have written it with the Canadian context in mind, though it may be relevant in other jurisdiction as well. The entire report is available for free download here.

Abstract

Purpose: The goal of this report is to provide substance for an evidence-informed discussion about the intersection of precarious academic employment and the contract cheating industry.

Methods: This is a qualitative report informed by the extant literature. It synthesizes available source material relating to academic staff who also supply services (e.g., essay writing, assignment completion, etc.) to the commercial contract cheating industry.

Results: A summary and synthesis are provided of issues relating to precariously employed academic staff and the contract cheating industry. A key outcome of this work is to highlight how the commercial cheating industry preys on underemployed academic staff. Predatory practices of the contract cheating industry are highlighted including false promises of high pay and meaningful work. Consequences such as disciplinary action and dismissal of academic staff who moonlight as suppliers to the industry are discussed, along with possible counter-measures to raise awareness and protect academic staff.

Implications: This guide is intended to provide guidance on methods used by the commercial contract cheating industry to exploit contract academic staff. Recommendations are provided on how to build awareness about the issue and also consider protections for the precariously employed.

Additional materials: 1 table; 46 references

Document type: Report, 26 pages

Keywords: academic integrity, higher education, academic labour, contingent faculty, precarious employment, cheating economy, sessional, adjunct, faculty

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This blog has had over 2 million views thanks to readers like you. If you enjoyed this post, please “like” it or share it on social media. Thanks!

Sarah Elaine Eaton, PhD, is an Associate Professor the Werklund School of Education, and the Educational Leader in Residence, Academic Integrity, University of Calgary, Canada. Opinions are my own and do not represent those of the University of Calgary.


A Systems Approach to Address Contract Cheating

September 24, 2020

I’m delighted to be giving a presentation today at the the 8th Congress on Academic Integrity organized by the Center for Academic Integrity, University of Monterrey (UDEM), Monterrey, Mexico.

Slide1

Abstract

In this presentation I examine how a systems approach is needed to address contract cheating in its various forms. Using the 4M framework, I demonstrate the role of the individual (micro), the department (meso), the learning organization (macro) and stakeholders beyond the institution (mega).

In this session, I share insights from my forthcoming book, Plagiarism in Higher Education: Tackling Tough Topics in Academic Integrity to be published by ABC Clio/Libraries Unlimited in 2021.

Keywords: academic integrity, academic misconduct, contract cheating, 4M Framework, SoTL

You can find a complete English-language slide deck and the script for the talk archived online here: http://hdl.handle.net/1880/112560

Integridad Académica: Un enfoque de sistemas para enfrentar la compraventa de trabajo académico1
8.° Congreso de Integridad Académica

En esta presentación Eaton examina cómo y por qué se requiere de un enfoque de sistemas para abordar la compraventa de trabajo académico.

Utilizando el marco de referencia de las 4M, Eaton muestra el rol de la persona (micro), el departamento (meso), la institución y la comunidad (mega).

Palabras clave: integridad académica, mala conducta académica, marco de referencia de las 4M, Investigación en Docencia y Aprendizaje (IDA / SoTL)

Se encuentra las diapositivas y todo el contenido de esta presentación aquí:  http://hdl.handle.net/1880/112565

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This blog has had over 2 million views thanks to readers like you. If you enjoyed this post, please “like” it or share it on social media. Thanks!

Sarah Elaine Eaton, PhD, is a faculty member in the Werklund School of Education, and the Educational Leader in Residence, Academic Integrity, University of Calgary, Canada. Opinions are my own and do not represent those of the University of Calgary.


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