Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Cheating as Learning #rhizo14

I like what Dave has to say in his Cheating as Learning video, especially regarding the locus of power which accrues to those with "the answers" in a given environment. As he indicates, we've typically been dissuaded from collaborating or sharing answers and solutions to a particular problems or questions, because this has been deemed to be "cheating."

"Do your own work," we've been told since grade school.

For me the crux of the matter comes down to intent:

Why exactly is it that you're cheating?

If cheating is indeed to be used as a weapon, I'd suggest that it be used for goodness as opposed to evil; that said, who becomes the arbiter of what constitutes "good" and "evil" in a given environment or situation?

GOOD: During my time as a student at the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology the more proficient of my peers had developed computer science skills through the use of game cheats, and the understanding this provided of the underpinnings of the games they were playing. Developing, discovering, implementing and sharing these "cheats" allowed these individuals to develop a fluency and proficiency in both the code and social milieu in which it was developed and evolved. In this instance, cheating was used as a weapon to make games more accessible and playable for a wider audience. Those developing the cheats gained status and "cred" and many of these individuals have since parlayed this foundation into careers in computer science.

EVIL: During this same period of time, the same group of individuals commandeered a series of servers within the institution to mount a Quake deathmatch which involved hundreds of students across the campus and essentially amounted to a denial-of-service attack for "legitimate" users within the college. Those responsible were reprimanded, and levels of security were added to guard against a repeat of the situation. No one was was expelled or punished academically for their actions. While the institution may have considered their actions "evil" most of those involved did not, and my impression was they saw this experimentation as a natural extension of the "cheats" they'd initially developed for client machines.The whole notion of cheating as learning has my head spinning (like that's news if you've made it this far into this post) and has me thinking of the concept of "stupidity as a teaching tool" and a post I made to this blog in 2002

What if there are no right answers?

Is there any use in cheating to get the wrong answer?

I mentioned earlier today that I was contemplating the notion of "cheating as learning" as it might relate to corporate (i.e., #cubefarm) and recreational (i.e., ski resort) environments and I'm still struggling with how the implications and repercussions of cheating in both might manifest itself. I seem to keep coming back to intent--why are you cheating, and what to do you intend to accomplish? I need to consider these topics in more detail and will be back with more musings as time permits.

Thanks for reading, and to Dave for a provocative start to #rhizo14


Christina Hendricks said...

I agree that the intent is important. If cheating is mostly about breaking rules (and I'll admit I haven't watched Dave's video about cheating yet), then there can definitely be valuable/important reasons for doing that as well as bad ones. What makes a reason for cheating count as bad? I guess right now I'm thinking if it means that someone is trying to get ahead of someone else (say, with grades or money or some such) in a way that isn't fair, that others don't also have equal opportunity to do, or that gives them an advantage that not everyone can have b/c if they do something will not work about the whole system. To me, then, it comes down to fairness, at least as I'm thinking about it now, which may change as I consider the issue further.

dougsymington said...

Thanks for the comment Christina. I too think fairness, equity and justice (and the perception of these notions on the part of "cheaters" bears consideration). Need to think more about limits (at what point(s) does cheating represent a risk? To whom/why?) Thanks again & cya online!

Mariana Funes said...

"If nature has made any one thing less susceptible than all others of exclusive property, it is the action of the thinking power called an idea....Its peculiar that no one possesses the less, because every other possesses the whole of it. He who receives an idea from me, receives instruction himself without lessening mine; as he who lights his taper at mine, receives light without darkening mine." (See H.A. Washington, ed., The Writings of Thomas Jefferson, printed by the United States Congress, 1853-54, vol. VI, p. 180.)

The idea of knowledge as a non-rivalrous resource is powerful in this context. I like your inclusion of the idea of intent in what counts as 'cheating' in the sense of depriving someone of something they would value by convert means.

How does my intent affect others and does that matter? if my intent is skilful and kind or unskilful and unkind - does that affect anyone but me as the cheater? In the context of searching for 'the' answer and 'being better than' it does matter. I gain a grade. perhaps, without the effort others may have put in.

In the context of self directed learning - where I would say we are searching for a collaborative best answer given current state- cheating can be a form of learning. As our goals are self-managed and we are not being assessed, our intent in participating can be taken as benign? and I wish i could always assume that in my students...

Interesting exploration about what a word, often used unexamined, carries in hidden assumptions and meanings.

Look forward to more deep learning and explorations together :-) #rhizo14MF