The Department of Education (DepEd) this week was surprised to find that over 600,000 Facebook users, presumably students, are members of an online cheating group named—for a lack of imagination—“Online Kopyahan.” The group was taken down shortly but there are more unimaginatively named cheating cohorts online, according to an INQUIRER.net report.
The agency’s surprise comes despite its awareness that the alternative learning setup amidst a pandemic has proven to be difficult for students and teachers alike. That and its awareness that cheating has been a lingering problem even before COVID-19, and not to mention, a human condition. “Cheating is a problem in society, not just in the Philippines, but in human nature itself,” DepEd Secretary Leonor Briones said in a Palace briefing Monday.
To combat online cheating in the time of online learning, DepEd says it is now exhausting all means, including enlisting the help of authorities. (Why do we keep employing the Philippine National Police (PNP)’s help in matters outside of their jurisdiction and capacity? First, COVID-19 mitigation and now halting academic dishonesty?)[READ: Cops aren’t afraid of harassing teachers. Here’s why]
Of course, before reaching out to PNP, DepEd called out to parents, because good deeds start at home, right? It’s not as if the parents’ plate is not full as is given the precarious state of employment and the false promise of work-life balance in a work-from-home arrangement?
And when “keeping it in the family” doesn’t work, DepEd suggests teachers draft contracts against academic dishonesty with the parent and student as signatories.
Here’s another idea from DepEd undersecretary for curriculum and instruction Diosdado San Antonio: make multiple versions of tests, randomize test items, and show questions only once “to avoid retracing of previous answers.” Surely, this too will fall under the teachers’ responsibilities on top of a pile of others.
Here’s an idea from an academic, Professor Jayeel Cornelio, director of Ateneo de Manila University’s development studies program: Why don’t we rethink the design of alternative learning?
Are we expecting too much of students, of teachers and their capacity to impart knowledge in such a disadvantageous setup? Cornelio asked in an interview with Rappler.
“The reality is that this is not a new industry, if we could call it that,” he said, referring to the industry of academic dishonesty. He said such services have been here since the 1980s and 1990s in Recto, where it used to thrive exclusively until the rise of social media. Cornelio said, “Social media as a space has merely amplified this, perhaps as an entrepreneurial endeavor on the part of those who need money. But perhaps the question is really for those who avail of their services.”
And for students, I was rooting for you, we were all rooting for you! How dare you! Learn something from this! When you go to bed at night, you lay there and you take responsibility for yourself because nobody’s going to take responsibility for you.
No truer words were spoken by Tyra Banks (who is in the middle of a college admission scandal-related casting, so maybe she is not the right person to quote for this after all).
Yes, intellectual dishonesty is never an excusable offense and DepEd is right not to tolerate it. But if it can’t be rooted out when the threat is far too obvious and traceable in a face-to-face setting, how then do we expect to get rid of it in the far trickier context of online learning. We could try, but maybe not at the expense of already burnt-out teachers, of overworked parents.