You might remember that last summer I taught the very first fully-online course my department had ever offered, the standard Calculus 1 course but fully online and asynchronous (i.e. we never met as a class in the standard sense). Since my last blog post, that course was approved to run again next summer, and I’ll be teaching it again. Although I have a lot of things to do between now and then, I’m already starting to think about what I should do differently when it kicks off in May 2016.

One of those items to re-think is academic integrity in the course. I don’t think there was ever a problem with cheating or collaborating in my course last summer – but then again, how would I know? Maybe the students are just really good at circumventing security. And to be honest, I went into the course design process with the security issues of online education pretty clear in my mind, but I also wanted to have a learning community in the class predicated on trust rather than constant policing. So it was entirely possible for students to be academically dishonest in the course. My thought was: I would rather get burned on academic dishonesty than try to set up and enforce a police state.

But I’m coming to understand that in online teaching, there is middle ground: You can set up and enforce simple measures that promote academic integrity that do not transform the class into an Orwellian landscape. The greatest density of aha-moments on this score that I’ve experienced came this weekend when I read through this collection of readings from Faculty Focus on academic integrity in online learning, shared with me by my friend and colleague Matt Roberts. I encourage you to read this too, even if you aren’t teaching online.

Here are some of the bigger take-aways I got from this collection:

Again the whole report is really interesting reading and I encourage you to check it out. Bruce Schneier reminds us constantly that there is no truly secure system anywhere and that’s certainly true in online teaching, but I think too that there are simple measures that we can take that promote integrity and deeper learning and better community, all at the same time.