Do Apps Just Help or Do They Help Cheat?
Mobile apps give users a huge wealth of information right at their fingertips. Many apps have an educational purpose and can help students succeed in their courses. But is all of this readily available information also helping some students cheat on their school assignments and tests?
There are apps out there that provide easy access to information and reference materials, which, although made with good intentions, could be used by some to cheat. For instance, there is an app that provides users with math formulas that can be helpful while first learning something, but can become a problem when students start to rely on the app rather actually learning the material.
Other apps boast being able to provide users the answers to any questions through the work of 'research assistants.' All someone has to do is submit his or her question and someone else does the work to find the answer. This means that a student working on a research paper could use the app as a shortcut to get some of the information they need rather than put in the time to find it on their own.
Depending on how quickly some of these apps are able to respond with answers, students could use them during exams. If a student finds a way to keep his or her phone out, they could try to access the information while the professor isn't looking.
What Apps Can Do to Help
Some app creators are surely aware that students could be tempted to use their apps to do work they should be completing on their own. There are certain precautions apps can take to try to prevent cheating. For example, iSchool Initiative, which offers writing apps that include live writing assistants, emphasizes that these assistants will give suggestions on writing only. Even if a student thinks he or she can send a very incomplete draft and basically get it written, he or she will only get suggestions for what work can done to make it better. If apps focus on offering supporting instead of doing the actual work that will go a long way toward preventing cheating.
Precautions Professors Should Take
Many teachers already take an important measure in preventing students from cheating with their cell phones during tests - making sure students don't keep their phones out. Students must be required to leave all cell phones tucked away in their bags. If the phone isn't out, then they won't be tempted to reach for it to get an answer. In addition to banning cell phones from being out, professors need to keep a close watch during exams to make sure no students are trying to sneak out their cell phones. As much as professors might want to use the honor system in these cases, it might not always be effective.
Students Need to Take Responsibility
It can be easy for students to be tempted to use mobile apps to cut some corners on their schoolwork or exams, particularly if they feel overwhelmed by the amount of work they have to do. But they should realize, first of all, that they won't feel good about a grade that they didn't actually earn on their own. They also need to understand that they're only going to be hurting themselves as they take away some of their own educational opportunities.
Apps don't have to just be seen as possible tools for cheating. There are some apps that can help improve your study skills.