Education’s Biggest Challenge: Tech Is Making Cheating Too Easy

By Scott McFarland, CEO, ProctorU.

Scott McFarland

Technology has unquestionably made teaching and learning better in many ways, accessibility and scale most notably. But it’s also made cheating, or academic dishonesty, incredibly easy and incredibly common.

Many people, even those employed in education, probably don’t fully realize exactly how common cheating has become. Three different, independent academic research studies on cheating, all released within the past year, separately described academic misconduct today as “widespread” and “commonplace” and “likely a common occurrence.” One recent academic research paper by professors at Radford University for example, says directly, “studies are increasingly reporting that academic dishonesty – in perception as well as self-reported behavior – is more common in online environments.”

It’s probably common sense that sending millions of students into online learning due to Covid-19 has turned that smoldering problem into a brushfire. In the past few weeks alone we’ve seen cheating scandals break out at West Point, the Air Force Academy, Texas A&M, the University of Oregon, University of Houston, and on and on. Based on our own data from millions of online exams, clear violations of test rules have increased 800% since the spring, when the pandemic set in.  

Honor Codes and Good Intentions Won’t Curb Cheating

As schools continue to realize that honor codes and good intentions alone won’t curb cheating, they’ve increasingly invested in tools and tactics to limit dishonesty. These include randomizing questions, setting exam time limits and using applications that limit or “lock down” Internet browsers to keep students from using Google or other sites. 

Those are a good start, probably mostly because they send a message to students that instructors take academic dishonesty seriously. Research shows that taking action to prevent cheating changes student perceptions and reduces the incentives to take shortcuts. Unfortunately, research also shows that even with lock-down browsers and time limits, students still cheat.

The Radford study found that “Despite a series of mitigation measures that were adopted without direct proctoring–such as the use of a special browser, a restricted testing period, randomized questions and choices, and a strict timer–it appears that cheating was relatively commonplace. Cheating apparently also paid off handsomely, at least when it comes to exam performance, often raising scores by about a lettergrade.”

That study found that even a recorded and reviewed proctoring solution, on top of those other techniques, significantly cut down on cheating. It seems the more risk involved in cheating, the greater the likelihood they could be caught, the less inclined students were to attempt misconduct. Again, this is logical. It’s the very reason why places such as banks and convenience stores have security cameras.

That’s a good analogy in that security cameras can deter bad actions but they cannot stop it in real time. It’s the difference between a security camera and a security guard. That’s where live test monitors add even more value, whether in person or remotely.

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How Are You Raising Awareness and Educating Students To Protect Personal Data Inside and Outside of The Classroom?

Response from Russ Munisteri, CASP+, CEH, assistant director of education, MyComputerCareer.

Russ Munisteri

Personally identifiable information (PII) can be defined as any representation of information that permits the identity of an individual to whom the information applies to be reasonably inferred by either direct or indirect means. In other words, protect your data and protection involves knowledge and skill.

As an educational leader we need to provide the necessary training and skillset to raise awareness and educate students in information technology. Through IT certifications, students learn how to secure PII, harden networks and servers, learn the concepts of social engineering, and the importance of security. This can be provided to students through instruction, curriculum, and hands-on labs.

Social engineering needs to take the spotlight. The days of brute-forcing passwords and physically bypassing security are not as popular with threat agents and cyber-attackers these days. There is a faster way! According to NIST SP 800-61 r2, social engineering is an attempt to trick someone into revealing information (e.g., a password) that can be used to attack systems or networks.

This concept is very low-tech, quick, and inexpensive to execute. If an attacker can earn your trust, the attacker will bypass most layers of security. Throughout my IT experience and education, social engineering is a topic that I stress on. Phishing, Vishing, Smishing, Whaling and Impersonation attacks is one side of SE, but what about the other side? Identity thieves, scam artists, governments, salespeople, disgruntled employees, and the list goes on. What about parents and children? The list below provides ways to reduce the likelihood of a social engineering attack:

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In New Age Learning, Legacy Tech Is Not An Option

By Mitrankur (Mit) Majumdar, vice president and regional head—services, Americas, Infosys.

Mitrankur (Mit) Majumdar

Education has been caught between the tectonic plates of digital technologies and the once-in-a-century pandemic. The industry has been forced to transition to a virtual engagement model that it was unprepared for. But even before the pandemic, the advent of Massive Open Online Courses was driving growth in higher education and reskilling with enrolment in traditional postsecondary institutions declining.

Massive generational changes in technological and workplace trends are changing the definition of education itself transforming it into a multi-dimensional and pervasive opportunity, open to people of all ages and socioeconomic strata. The definition of the ‘student’ is also changing, who now expects anytime, anywhere, and lifelong learning.

Leave legacy behind

In this new paradigm, outmoded approaches to teaching and learning just don’t support the new demands and changed expectations. Even educational institutions that use technology, utilize legacy systems that work in a monolithic fashion and don’t support the new age learner’s journey. They are difficult to integrate with modern Software-as-a-Service applications required for the learning solutions of today and expensive to operate.

A vast majority of students are digital natives, which means they expect hyper-personal, imaginative, and on-demand learning experiences that are frictionless. While higher education institutions scrambled to ensure resilience with Zoom user accounts during the pandemic, that comes nowhere close to the user experience that students have come to expect. They are communication platforms and not Education communication platforms.

Another key element is the existence of complex relational databases that make it difficult to obtain the desired data that can be used for competitive advantage. Students generate data at every touchpoint and technology allows the education institution to map this data and create a genome of each student. This provides a 360-degree, unified view of the student by employing data and analytics helping in personalized inputs to drive necessary interventions for student success.

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What Is The Role of The Teacher In A Post-Pandemic World, When Ed Tech Resources Are More Valuable Than Ever? 

Response from Caroline Allams, co-founder and CEO, Natterhub.

Caroline Allams

The COVID pandemic has fundamentally changed our relationship with education technology. New tools and resources that might have taken years to reach schools were, by necessity, developed and released in a matter of months. But while education technology has played a vital role in helping teachers continue to do their jobs, the pandemic has also highlighted the undeniable necessity of a human element.

Even the most sophisticated, cutting-edge edtech tool on the market is just that – a tool. It’s only in the hands of a teacher that these tools can have any sort of meaningful impact on the development of young minds.

While children are very capable of understanding how technology functions, they can often struggle with the impact screen use has on their emotional wellbeing. According to a report by YoungMinds, 90% of school leaders have reported an increase in the number of students experiencing anxiety or stress over the last five years. The most common causes include exam stress, and the pressures of maintaining the kind of ‘perfect’ lifestyle children see reflected on social media; something which has only become more prevalent as pupils spend increasing amounts of time online in lockdown.

Finding a way for children to navigate the digital landscape is crucial if we are to have any chance of keeping children safe online. This was true even before COVID-19, of course, but the pandemic and subsequent lockdowns have accelerated the process. While edtech resources can help pupils to grasp the mechanics of online safety – from creating strong passwords to reporting inappropriate content – it’s only when guided by a teacher that pupils can have the kind of experiential learning they need to internalise these lessons. Children might not understand that an online avatar isn’t always trustworthy, but they’re all familiar with the story of the Big Bad Wolf dressing up as Grandma to trick Little Red Riding Hood.

The essential role of the teacher is even more apparent when we apply edtech resources to more traditional subjects in the curriculum. For example, while online resources can help a child to work through the steps of a maths problem, they do so with a one-size-fits-all approach. By contrast, a teacher working closely with a child can adapt their pedagogy – by phrasing the problem differently, or focusing on a particular sticking point – in order to give that child the confidence they need to work out the answer independently.

We should also consider the emotional role that teachers play as ‘trusted adults’ in pupils’ lives – providing them with comfort and support throughout their school lives. Teachers are often the first to notice subtle changes in a child’s behaviour or attitude; the first warning signs that they need help with something troubling them. In a recent poll by the Daily Mirror, more than 70% of children aged 5-16 said that prolonged absences from school had had a damaging effect on their mental health, with many saying that they missed their teachers as much as they missed their friends.

As the pandemic ends and new innovations are brought more fully into the traditional classroom, we should consider how they can be used to teach children the abstract but crucial citizenship skills such as kindness, empathy, and resilience. These are the skills that will stand them in good stead not just in school but throughout their lives, both online and offline.

Kivuto Announces Availability of Newest Release of Minitab Statistical Software with Cloud Capabilities

UNF - Information Technology Services - KivutoKivuto, a provider of digital solutions for the education industry, announces the availability of Minitab Statistical Software: Cloud App/Windows Desktop from OnTheHub.  

 The launch of the newest version of Minitab Statistical Software now allows users to make better, faster, and easier data driven decisions anywhere with the power of the cloud. Users can securely access the most powerful statistical software in the market from anywhere – whether working from home or the office – to analyze data and share insights with lightning speed thanks to new cloud capabilities. More than 4,000 colleges and universities worldwide use Minitab software to make teaching and learning statistics easy.

OnTheHub is Kivuto’s open online marketplace for academic discounts on software, eBooks, and other digital resources. A top source of student savings, OnTheHub allows students, faculty, and other academic stakeholders to acquire software at a fraction of retail price and saves schools the cost of licensing that software themselves.

Jeffrey T. Slovin, chief executive officer of Minitab, said. “For nearly 50 years, Minitab has been committed to its roots in the academic community by providing best-in-class statistical software. As this market continues to evolve, Minitab is uniquely positioned to meet the needs of academic institutions. Now, with Minitab available on the cloud, administrators, professors and students alike can access Minitab anywhere, anytime and from any device to support all instructional models.”

“Minitab is the market leader in data analysis and data transformation solutions and is the gold standard solution offered by educational institutions worldwide,” said Mark McKenzie, CEO at Kivuto. “We have been offering Minitab to academic institutions through OnTheHub over 20 years and know the latest version will be well-received by the academic community.

For more information on Minitab Statistical Software for the academic community, visit https://onthehub.com/minitab/.

About Minitab 

For nearly 50 years, Minitab has helped organizations drive cost containment, enhance quality, boost customer satisfaction and increase effectiveness through its proprietary solutions. Thousands of businesses and institutions worldwide use Minitab Statistical Software, Minitab Connect, Salford Predictive Modeler, Minitab Workspace, Minitab Engage, and Quality Trainer to uncover flaws and opportunities in their processes and address them. Minitab Solutions Analytics is Minitab’s proprietary integrated approach to providing software and services that enable organizations to make better decisions that drive business excellence.

About Kivuto 

Kivuto has been transforming the way schools distribute digital resources to students and faculty for more than 20 years. Today, Kivuto streamlines the management and delivery of academic software, eTextbooks, cloud licenses, and all other types of digital resources for educational institutions. For more information, visit https://kivuto.com/.  

Luxer One Provides Smart Locker System To Cosumnes River College

Luxer One, the technology leader in smart locker solutions, announced today the successful implementation of a modular locker system for use with the student library at Cosumnes River College. With this installation, Cosumnes River College (CRC) becomes the first college in the Los Rios Community College District to benefit from Luxer One’s safe, no-contact method of picking up library materials.

Conveniently located in the Business and Social Science building, these smart locker systems will be available for to students and staff Monday thru Friday (7:30 am- 6 pm).

Management of a user base this broad is made possible because of Luxer Ones integrates seamlessly with CRC’s library management system (LMS) to provide in-depth tracking on every item that is exchanged via smart locker.

Students can request materials via the library’s website, prompting librarians to check items out of inventory and place them into the lockers for pick up. Once placed in the locker, students receive a notification directly to their phone along with a pickup code. This code enables students to unlock their textbooks or other library materials, completing the contactless pickup process.

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Modern Campus Acquires Interactive Campus Map and Virtual Tour Provider nuCloud

Modern Campus, a modern learner engagement platform, announces the acquisition of nuCloud, a leading provider of highly customizable interactive campus maps and virtual tour solutions for colleges and universities. The acquisition reinforces Modern Campus’ vision to revolutionize the student experience and deliver what today’s modern learner demands: a massively personalized learner-to-earner journey.

Founded in 2008, nuCloud provides a software-as-a-service (SaaS)-based application that enables higher education institutions to build rich, eye-catching interactive maps and virtual tours that make it easy for students to experience the campus of their choice in a unique way. NuCloud customers will benefit from the integration of nuCloud within the Modern Campus personalization engine, and the expansion of capabilities provided by Modern Campus Omni CMS, the only purpose-built content management system (CMS) for higher education.

“First impressions count. Colleges and universities have mere moments to capture the imagination of prospective students. Seeing a rich, immersive experience on the web site, enabling them to ‘walk’ the campus and imagine the possibilities in a personalized way, drives high engagement and enrollment,” said Peter DeVries, president and chief operating officer of Modern Campus. “This acquisition is just one example of our commitment to customer success and enhancing the student experience with massively personalized digital engagement. It illustrates our deep expertise in higher education and provides another proof point for how we intend to expand our platform’s capabilities.”

NuCloud brings the campus environment to life with rich maps and virtual tours, making it easy for students to experience and find their way around a campus. Colleges and universities using the newly integrated solution will experience benefits including:

“Visiting a campus to evaluate whether it’s ‘right for me’ as a student is exceptionally difficult in a virtual environment, and a prospective student’s digital experience must be exceptional,” said Nick Catto, chief information officer and co-founder of nuCloud. “The acquisition by Modern Campus and integration of our solutions into Omni CMS is the perfect outcome for our company, allowing us to provide the industry’s leading interactive map tool to the portion of Modern Campus’ 550-plus customers who haven’t yet been introduced to these capabilities.”

Both Nick Catto and Todd James, chief financial officer and co-founder of nuCloud, will join Modern Campus, and continue to lead customer engagements and Omni CMS Campus Map product innovation.

For more information about Modern Campus’ Campus Map module, visit: https://moderncampus.com/products/omni-cms/modules/campus-map.html.

Hybrid Learning’s Impact On Education Provision and Student Learning

By Alan Goode, CEO and co-Founder, Global Teletherapy.

The only way a school system can truly excel is if the three main components are working in harmony, and each is holding up their end; after all, the triangle is the strongest geometric shape.

If the teacher, student, and parent are all working together, the results will be outstanding. Once this “triangle of trust” has been established, the potential to grow continues to grow even stronger.

The Role of Teachers
While the teacher’s primary focus and responsibility is the students, it would be a mistake for a teacher to define his/her role in such narrow terms. For teachers to help students reach their potential, a healthy relationship with the parents is beneficial, and frequently the critical ingredient that will enhance the student’s chances of success.

Teachers need to share their goals with the parents so they can work in tandem to achieve them. And they need to reach out to parents early in the year before there are problems. This outreach sends the message to the parents that the teacher cares about the students, and lays the foundation for future communication with parents.

The Role of Students
Students must accept that they are ultimately responsible for their education. No one can force them to do anything. It is up to the parents and teachers to support and encourage, not to carry the child’s load. Some students tend to put the adults in their lives against each other, but once they see that there is communication between parents and teachers, they will feel supported and most likely perform better.

The Role of Parents
Together with teachers, parents serve as the base of the triangle, securely supporting the student. Parents must feel comfortable enough to contact their child’s teacher if there is a concern. And at times, they will be called upon to become even more proactive in their children’s education, serving other functions as well to ensure that that their children derive maximum benefit from the education being provided by the school.

Hybrid Education Model
The Learning Triangle, while always essential, has become even more critical in the world redefined by COVID-19. As a result of the ongoing pandemic, most schools across the country seem to be looking at another year of distance learning, while a few brave school systems have declared their students will return to in-person school.

Still, others are working hard to offer students a mix of the two by creating a hybrid learning model. That’s an arrangement where students attend school a few days each week and engage in distance learning on the other days.

Both face-to-face and online learning have their benefits and weaknesses. The goal of hybrid learning is to combine the two formats to create a singular learning experience without weak spots.

If done correctly, a hybrid learning scenario can be beneficial for everyone involved. Aside from the importance of in-person learning for kids, the opportunity to develop social and emotional skills, get physical exercise, and have access to mental health support, regular meals, internet access, and counseling; another significant benefit of the hybrid model is the long-awaited socialization the kids will get.

Although “blended courses and “hybrid courses” are used interchangeably, there is an essential difference.

A blended course involves face-to-face class sessions accompanied by online materials and activities – primarily a “blend” of both live and online learning. A fundamental component of a blended course is that these online materials are not intended to “replace” face-to-face class time; instead, they are meant to be supplemental.

On the other hand, hybrid learning is intended to replace a portion of face-to-face class time. In the hybrid synchronous model, which will be employed in most schools, students interact online in real-time via Zoom or similar real-time meeting platforms. Hybrid learning will impact all three points on the entire Learning Triangle, in different and unique ways.

Leading a successful hybrid learning experience requires a different set of strategies than working strictly remotely or strictly face-to-face.

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IT Security Challenges and The Digital Divide In Education

By Jim Cropper, director of education sales, Brother International Corporation.

Jim Cropper

The adoption of online learning, already one of the fastest-growing trends in education, was drastically accelerated by the coronavirus pandemic. Students everywhere, from first grade to college seniors, were forced to shift to virtual classrooms for their safety as well as their teachers’.

There are certainly many benefits of online education primarily the flexibility it affords. However, remote learning also presents new challenges, particularly with respect to data security, as well as “the digital divide.”

Regarding the former, cybersecurity issues begin with the hardware but certainly don’t end there. Learning from home is enticing for many, but any time personal devices are used to handle sensitive data, such as test scores and student information, they run the risk of exposing that information because those devices usually haven’t been configured and vetted as would a school-issued computer.

Contributing to these risks is that learning and implementing cybersecurity best practices, such as recognizing obvious phishing attempts, are still a work in progress for many schools and universities across the country.

Unfortunately, cybercriminals are well aware of these weaknesses and have been using the pandemic to exploit the most vulnerable targets. In fact, between July and August of 2020, when it became clear that the school year would go, on albeit remotely, the average number of weekly cyberattacks per educational facility in the US rose by 30% over the prior two months. As news headlines have revealed, many educational organizations were caught unprepared, with some school districts even having to temporarily cease operations to halt cyber incursions.

Although we are now collectively better prepared, new risks and attacks continue. There are many strategies that school administrators must employ to safeguard sensitive data, such as training all staff in cybersecurity best practices, including the usage of VPNs to connect to school networks from home. And the district or university IT teams must regularly update all school-issued devices to ensure they stay current with the latest firmware, utilizing strong admin passwords.

Besides cybersecurity, another important conversation around remote learning is that of “the digital divide,” which is the acknowledgment that the tools needed to thrive in an online classroom, such as high-functioning computers and Wi-Fi, are costly. Hence, many students from different socioeconomic backgrounds often don’t have access to all the tools they need to thrive in a virtual setting.

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Return-To-Classroom Cybersecurity Considerations

By Mitrankur (Mit) Majumdar, vice president, Americas, Infosys.

Mitrankur (Mit) Majumdar

With the ever-increasing threat landscape and hackers targeting all industries and services, cybersecurity incidents are on the rise across the globe. In fact, education sector accounts for almost 60% of the total enterprise malware attacks encountered.

A report from Privacy Rights Clearinghouse (PRC), a non-profit consumer education and advocacy organization, provides some indication of the extent of the problem. The PRC reports 788 data breaches have occurred in K-12 schools and institutions of higher education that led to 14,871,122 compromised records since 2005.

With the rise of technology use in schools, these figures are likely to only increase. Schools cannot ignore the need to plan for cyber threats in their emergency operations plans. The education sector is quite vulnerable to attack for a couple of reasons. One, security controls in the education sector are usually not as stringent as enterprises. This is despite the fact that there is valuable data of students, teachers and parents at stake, for attackers to access and misuse.

The number of K-12 and university students using online channels and mobile devices has been growing steadily in the last couple of years. Since the second quarter of 2020, though, the Covid-19 situation suddenly resulted in a massive spurt in online education. Schools and universities across the globe moved online, almost overnight.

This sudden shift to remote learning led to a number of challenges, given that neither teachers nor students are aware of possible data proliferation avenues and continuous encounters with malware resulting in significantly increased vulnerabilities. Raising cybersecurity awareness among the many actors of education sector became paramount. Security controls also needed to be implemented to strengthen the infrastructure against attacks. Security – be it network security, asset management, endpoint protection, data security or others – is still a primary concern in a digital classroom.

Back to Classroom Concerns

With the rollout of the vaccine ramping up, conversations are beginning to percolate about what a return to the classroom will look like. While, physical health and safety concerns are certainly a number one priority, there needs to be enough thought given to the digital aspect as well. We need to consider the implications of hundreds of pupils bringing their laptops and other devices that may be infected with malware, viruses, and the like, back to their schools’ networks. If schools are not prepped properly, there could be some drastic cybersecurity implications.

Important priorities that need to be considered include:

Here is a recommended roadmap to address this:

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