Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Internet Savvy

It's the end of the semester, which is good and bad. Good that I don't teach again until August. Bad that I have a mountain of papers to grade, and a million students emailing me. The internet has changed the teacher-student relationship forever.

The worst is they expect an immediate reply. Waiting 24 hours is neglect to them. Can you imagine that in the business world? When I was in college, we had email, but I can't remember ever emailing a professor. I must have, I'm sure I did, but it was such a rare occasion, I don't even remember. I called them, I made appointments to meet with them, I stopped by during office hours, but hounding them on the internet? Nope.

It's the most annoying thing ever, this internet. It means that people constantly have access to us, or assume they do. Sure, it's great to reach out and connect with someone instantaneously without having to shower or change out of my pj's, but it makes it impossible to duck and dodge. Sometimes, I just don't feel like talking on the phone, but if I don't answer when someone calls or texts, they assume I'm ignoring them. The same thing is true of student emails. They think they have access to me 24/7.

Now the bright side of teaching in the digital age is that it's suuuper easy to catch cheaters. Because cheaters are stupid, and they leave a digital footprint easy to track.

My favorite stories are the ones about students who tell sob stories of dead grandmothers, suicidal sisters or long mysterious hospital stays. I'm a sucker, I trust everyone, it's a blessing and a curse. I feel sad when a student tells me something tragic happened to them. I want to help. That's why I love teaching. But one thing I'm learning is, wait for it, not all these stories are true. Gasp!

I believe wholeheartedly that if you lie about a death in the family, karma is gonna get you like the bitch she is. One professor told me a student once lied about a dead grandma to get out of a midterm exam only to have the grandma actually croak when finals came around. The student confessed and cried and cried, worrying that her lie somehow killed her sweet Nana. And it probably did.

So I never ask to see death notices or funeral programs. Too sad and too personal, and if you lie about death, sooner or later, it's going to catch you.

A few months ago, a friend told me a story about a student who made up this elaborate lie that her sister was studying abroad in Paris but was so lonely, she tried to commit suicide. She had to rush to be by her sister's side. Sad story, and my friend almost believed it, but on a hunch, she turned to Facebook to investigate. Sure enough, the girl was dumb enough not to have any privacy settings turned on and had a long list of status updates about how cute French boys were and how much fun it was to shop on Champs-Élysées. Busted.

It's also super easy to catch kids plagiarizing. I read a paper that seems too good to be true, choose a sentence and type it into Google. Voila! So easy it's almost boring.

I caught a student who plagiarized on two papers (not one, but two!) and found she simply copied and pasted the entire papers from a website. Yet another way Google is making life easier. She tried to deny it when I showed her the papers and the print-out from the website. She told me that she thought that was the assignment. For a writing class. Instead of writing, I wanted them to copy someone else's writing and put their name on it. Hmm.

She cried and then threw her snotty Kleenex at me and stormed out of my office saying, "Now I have to transfer schools again!"

I saw her on campus the next semester, and she glared at me like I killed her grandmother. Though that was probably the lie that caused her to leave the last school. Will they ever learn? I doubt it, but I don't mind, the internet makes it fun to catch them.

4 comments:

Girl in Carolina said...

Oh my...people are seriously stupid! I don't know how you handle it. lol

Date Girl said...

I have a complete love/hate relationship with the internet. I love blogging, but I definitely get tired of that "constantly connected" feeling. I take time off and just unplug and turn off everything, phone, computer, all of it.
Oh and when I was in the IT business, we couldn't ignore emails either. Not even at 8pm. UGHHHH.
That student story is hilarious. I would have laughed in her face.

CarrieAnn said...

I get so crazy paranoid when I am writing a paper that someone will think that I am plagiarizing. I am the last person in the world who would do that, but I worry incessantly that if I turn in something good, my teacher will think I am cheating! Isn't that stupid?!

Jen Kucsak said...

Oh my god, don't even get me started! Whatever happened to the days of the commodore 64 and the zack morris phone???

 
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