Rapidly expanding technology makes it difficult to keep up with needed academic integrity codes. Educational institutions are developing new instructional delivery models. Distance learning in a digital age through online computer courses and programs creates a need for faculty surveillance of student responsibility for adhering to academic ethical principles.
Students and Internet users have developed a culture that often does not view utilizing information from the vast resources of the Internet without attribution as academic dishonesty. Plagiarism involving material readily available on the Internet is a growing problem. The software company iParadigm developed a computer program, Turnitin, that identifies matches between digital content on the Internet or in the company’s databases and text in student term papers, take-home examinations, and other research assignments. This system can also be used to evaluate work by faculty members who have submitted their manuscripts for publication. Public exposure of administrative and faculty malfeasance can end careers. Clearly, it is often difficult for educational policy makers to keep up with the rapidly exploding growth of our information age.
Bernadette H. Schell and Clemens Martin (2004) identify some of the most common cybercrimes impacting academic dishonesty. Identity theft—the malicious theft and subsequent misuse of someone else’s identity in order to commit crimes—is increasing. Computer hackers may destroy, manipulate, or use personal information of students, faculty, or staff. Colleges and university personnel must thus strive to protect e-mail and account information while providing or encouraging the use of antivirus software. University data banks may be compromised, necessitating that administrators take expensive corrective action.
In United States v. Diekman (2001), Justice Department investigators discovered that an individual had hacked into a number of government and university computers, including ones at Stanford University. The hacker also gained access to usernames and passwords from Harvard University, Cornell University, California State University at Fullerton, Oregon State University, and the Los Angeles and San Diego campuses of the University of California. In an unreported case, the 20-year-old culprit was sentenced to federal prison on a variety of claims, including unauthorized access to computers and damaging protected computers. Computer crime is so prevalent that a growing number of colleges and universities award degrees in computer crime as an area of specialization within the field of information technology. In addition, Congress has enacted legislation dealing with the growing problem.
Donald L. McCabe (2005) surveyed more than 40,000 undergraduates on 68 campuses. His survey revealed that 21% of respondents acknowledged at least one form of serious exam cheating, while 51% admitted at least one incident of cheating on written work. Faculty members often overlook or ignore suspicious behavior or do not conduct proper surveillance during examination periods. Reporting such behavior often involves much work, and for untenured faculty there may be some hesitancy to report academic dishonesty.