Last year I realized that the AUP in the district left a lot of loopholes or a lot of gray area that needed clarification for the classroom. This year I revamped my syllabus so I would have a section on technology. In some instances, my policy for the students is stricter or clearer than the district. But that makes sense.
Last year I made the leap to mostly digital quizzes. With that change, I found out that my expectations and the beliefs of the students were not always in line. Even though they were taking a quiz – because it was online they had to be reminded to be quiet. That shocked me. It was a quiz. Why would they think it was different than a traditional quiz? I had to put a lot more effort into creating the Moodle quizzes, and it was supposed to be for their benefit. As soon as they submitted the quiz they got instant feedback on how they did. The number of times I caught students trying to cheat also increased. There was a survey done by Common Sense Media and the article was very interesting. Today’s students do not see it as cheating when they use cell phones or the Internet to help themselves or their friends on tests. So the phenomenon is not just in my classroom, which makes me feel slightly better.
The most common ways that students try to cheat are clicking ‘Back’ after they have submitted the score. Luckily, Moodle is smarter than they are. So it gives them an error message. I have also caught students looking things up on the Internet when they think I am out of a visual range. Most of the time it hurts their quiz score because in the hast to be sneaky; it gets in the way of solid research. The first thing that pops up in Google is not always the best answer. I watch students do these things, let them finish the quiz, than pull them aside at the end of class. 9 out of 10 will say they were not cheating. They are just lucky that the Middle School has a no zero policy (because cheating is a behavioral issue, the punishment can not be academic).
The second point of clarification I made to my classroom AUP is with the treatment of technology. Students pick and poke and doodle when they are bored. There is evidence of this on textbooks in every classroom; however, the technology often is damaged beyond repair. I was disappointed last year with the mini-laptops and the lack of accountability some of the teachers had with them. Each teacher was assigned four, but they were allowed to share within their core team. As an encore teacher, I was allowed to borrow from any teacher not using them. The teachers who did not have an accountability system had laptops missing keys, keys in the wrong places, missing power cords, damaged screens, writing on the screens, etc.
With a lack of guidelines in place, the students did small practical jokes – drawing mustaches on someone’s digital face, switching keys on the keyboard. But those became permanent when the screen was damaged or when the keys were lost. I am making it very clear to my students at the beginning of the year that any intentional miss use of the laptops will be written up as vandalism and submitted to the office. For the younger students, this should make them think twice. I wish I could just say treat the technology like you would your own, but I have seen what they do with their iPods and cell phones. I guess technology is not treated with respect until you are old enough to have to pay for it.