Thursday, May 1, 2008


The real dramatic difference between college back when I was college age and college now is that everyone is connected by email and web. U.T. has a web service called Blackboard where professors post course materials and grades, etc., there are discussion forums, they can email us with announcements, and we can email them, or our T.A.'s. And students can email everyone in the class.

So, especially around test time, there's a flurry of mass emails from students, most of them asking for the notes from a particular day when they missed class. I had 8 of them in my inbox this morning, with excuses ranging from, "I missed that day because I had my chemotherapy treatment in Houston," to "I have no excuse. I just really hated going to the boring class. Thanks!"

The ones that really get on my nerves are the emails asking for information that's in the syllabus or that could easily be gotten by contacting the professor or T.A., like "What dates does the exam tomorrow cover?" Would you send an email to 200 people for something you could get by sending an email to one? Kids today!

There's so much talk about academic dishonesty now. Every course syllabus has a required section explaining exactly what cheating is, because I guess teenagers don't know by the time they get to college that it's wrong to copy answers from someone's test or to turn in someone else's work as your own. But all this pleading for other people's class notes doesn't strike me as exactly ethical. In fact, it doesn't seem any more unethical to lift your research paper from Wikipedia than to send an email to your whole class asking to copy someone's notes in exchange for baking them cupcakes. Does it?

1 comment:

Lily's Mommy said...

Do you think there's more cheating because it's so much easier? I think almost everything I turned in at high school was written by hand. I did have a commodore 64 (don't laugh!) which I used more in college. But even that was a lot of work. I had to put in the floppy for spellcheck and pray it wouldn't crash!

I wonder if things require so much less effort now that some people can't be bothered to put in any of their own effort? ie. emailing 200 people instead of using their own brain for 5 minutes.

I'm kind of curious to see what kind of impact the new grads will have on society. I've read about "Millenials" (did I get that right?) and their horrid work ethic. I'm sure they're not too impressed with me either. :)