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I Have Met the Enemy, and It Is iPhone

October 3, 2020

With the advent of coronavirus-induced, hybrid instruction, I find myself not only having to learn how to teach using Google Classroom to deliver lessons but also having to learn how to combat a higher level of cheating enabled by the wedding between Google Classroom and the iPhone in my students’ hands.

My lesson this week: The iPhone enables screenshots of my out-of-class, Google Classroom quizzes to be shared among my students.

For my Google Classroom quizzes, I usually disable the options for students to immediately see their final grade upon submitting an assignment and also to view correct answers for each question after submitting work. Well, last week, I forgot to disable these features on one quiz, and a handful of my students were able to see the answer key, so to speak, once they submitted their assignments. I found this out because one sent me a message asking to retake the quiz because “a 55 is unacceptable.”

When I saw that he knew his actual score, I thought, “Uh, oh.” And I immediately disabled the two features mentioned above. (Once I disabled the features, students who initially saw the answer key could no longer view it.) I did remember to disable “edit after submit,” so students could not take a quiz, see the answers, then retake the quiz after viewing the answer key. At the time, only six of my 110 students had completed the quiz, so I thought I might have caught it in time. 

Apparently not.

My quizzes are difficult, and I usually curve. I noticed that one student scored remarkably well– not perfect, but well.

Over the next two days, five other students scored exactly the same, remarkable score– including the missing the exact same items and choosing the very same wrong answers for those missed items. 

Something tipped this handful of students that copying these answers was the way to go, and I think someone among the six who saw the answers took photos of (at least) most of the answer key and shared with a friend, who shared with others.

There’s another reason I believe that the cheating derived from iPhone pics of the answer key: I accidentally included items on the quiz that did not parallel the reading selection, which explains why students who honestly completed the quiz scored notably low. In contrast, this handful of high scorers perfectly answered all of the accidental items and missed only answers one could actually locate in the associated reading. 

So, I am discarding that quiz and rewriting another version in which I correct my own item-to-reading-selection misalignment.

I’m also seriously limiting the window for quiz completion.

And I’m letting my students know that I’m onto them.


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  1. Mercedes, are you giving tests as Google Forms?

    • Yes. Our district has security features in place to block ability to discern answers in the test coding (no n = 2 hints)

  2. Nancy Slator permalink

    Time for an ethics lesson.

  3. Aggravating, I know. My favorite is when one student sends a picture of their complete work with their name on it to another student and that second student is too lazy to recopy the work. They submit the picture as their own with the other student’s name on it!

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