Is using technology for school cheating?

Plagiarism is no joke.  Some studies conclude that more than two-thirds of students will cheat at least once during high school and/or college. As a result, schools are on high alert, spending more time tracking down students taking the plagiarism path.

With an increase in student plagiarism, you, the student, are also presented with a growing number of tech resources aimed at helping you with your homework and assignments – opening the door to a big question: Is using technology for school cheating?

Is technology considered cheating?

It’s an important question to think about.  Let’s put this under the microscope of writing a paper.  You need to understand the line between what can get you in trouble and what can help you write a better paper. 

Let’s get an important list out of the way. There are a few obvious things that count as cheating. 

  • Downloading a paper that someone else wrote and submit that as your own
  • Paying someone else to write a paper for you.
  • Using supporting evidence but don’t cite it

Cheating vs. Helping

There is a very clear lesson to be learned in reviewing these acts of cheating.  Representing someone else’s work as your own is cheating. So don’t do it. The penalties for cheating can be severe. You can get a zero for a paper or kicked out of school.

So what are you allowed to do to get help?

Not long ago, I was helping my daughter learn about fractions. We were discussing how you divide fractions. I had to stop and Google the rules, so the lesson took a while. My daughter asked: “Why don’t you know how to do this better?” I answered: “Because if I need to divide fractions, I just use a calculator.”

Is using that technology for school cheating? I don’t think so. It’s using technology to speed up the process. 

Technology to help you write a better paper.

This is a good starting point for understanding what is acceptable to use when you’re working on a paper. Using technology to help improve the quality of your work is perfectly fine. If it weren’t, then everyone who has ever used spell check would be a cheater. It’s not against the rules to be more efficient. We’re all busy, which is why we all use resources to help us get jobs done faster.

When you think about using a resource to help you improve your writing, it is important to remember that technology is not doing the work for you. Spell check doesn’t write your paper; it reviews what you have written to make it better. If you’ve ever gone to a writing center at your school for help, then you’ve done the same kind of thing. It wouldn’t make sense for a school to have a writing center but say that using that writing center is cheating. 

Can you do the work?

If you’re thinking about using technology to help you write a better paper, there’s a simple test to decide if what you want to use would be cheating: could you write the paper without using that technology? If you can answer “yes” to this question, then the technology isn’t something you’re using to cheat. 

That being said, you always want to make sure that you actually can write the paper with the help. Using a calculator is very helpful, but it doesn’t (and shouldn’t) replace your ability to do math on your own. You don’t want to get to the point where you rely on a piece of technology. If you need to do math and don’t have a calculator, you can still get the job done. The same goes for technology. As long as you know how to write a paper on your own, then by all means, use the power of technology to write a better paper.  

Software solution (that’s not cheating!)

Students can use writing software, like Ecree, and know with confidence that this technology is a helpful resource for getting real-time writing feedback.  It’s like a school writing center or having access to your teacher at any hour of the day (or night).  Consider it your graphing calculator of the writing world and know that you’re on the path to better grades and better papers