Sometimes face to face learning is just not conducive, but thankfully there are alternatives such as distance learning, or online classes.

For many students, online classes are most flexible with their schedules. As for others, this allows them to live outside their college town while still attending school. 

Online classes do offer many benefits such as doing school work at one's own pace. However, there is a problem that online classes can produce; cheating. 

Many students may think professors are not aware of the various cheating tactics students try, but Lisa Low, assistant professor of practice in public relations at Texas Tech, said that could not be further from the truth.

“Very few (professors) are not, not aware of the many ways to collude,” Low said.

Professors are understanding when it comes to the lifestyles of students.  Low said if students are in a jam, it is better for them to talk to their professor rather than cheat, because once a student cheats, the professors are obligated to report it. Once that is done, it is no longer in the hands of the professor.

“Sharing answers is a reportable offense, don’t do it…It’s better to take a zero," Low said.

Websites like Quizlet are commonly used when taking online tests. Students simply copy the answer and paste it into the search engine of the browser.  Most of the time, an answer on Quizlet will pop up. Professors are aware of this though, which is why some might chose to use software to catch cheating.

Low said she looks for patterns in students open ended answers, and if she notices that two answers are worded in a sophisticated and similar manner, she looks at the time stamp to compare, concluding the students could have possibly worked together.

Miglena Sternadori, associate professor of journalism and creative media industries, said she does not worry if students cheat because she makes her tests open book and open note. Not only does she make her tests open book, she also makes them harder and longer.

“No, I don’t think anyone is cheating because I’ve made the test open book,” Sternadori said.

Sternadori said she creates her exams to measure students' knowledge. There are programs in place to prevent cheating online such as having to take tests in a blackboard specific location or having to use a lock down browser.

Morgan Kidd, a recent Tech graduate from Houston, said when she took online classes, she had to take exams in a LockDown browser.

“I took multiple classes in which we had to take exams and quizzes with LockDown browser. Using the LockDown browser deters students from accessing other websites while taking exams,” Kidd said.

Online classes are a more independent way to earn credits, but professors do warn against cheating, as it can go on a student's academic record.

“If you’re smart enough to cheat, then you’re smart enough to know the material,” Low said.

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