2020 in Retrospect: In the Age of Online Learning, Cheating is Rampant

Posted by Joseph D. Lento | Jan 11, 2021 | 0 Comments

In 2020, online learning became de rigueur for many American universities. As a result, alleged cases of cheating and punishable academic dishonesty have skyrocketed. Colleges across the nation are scrambling to figure out how to fairly adjudicate infractions related to remote learning.

Students are panicking about false allegations and expectations regarding misconduct - particularly as they have had to completely reorient themselves to a brand-new learning structure and environment over the past few months.

This paranoia-inducing situation is affecting students' wellbeing - and, in many cases, their academic reputations and educations. To quash remote-learning-related academic misconduct, many schools are putting students in very difficult situations.

American Universities Crack Down on Alleged Academic Misconduct Enabled by Remote Learning

  • In December, students at Texas A&M received an unsettling email reporting large-scale cheating (and allegations regarding a ‘homework help' website that had, apparently, helped students a little too much). The university officials asked students to self-report or face suspension or even expulsion.
  • 150 students at the University of Missouri faced accusations of cheating after the university moved classes online. The students allegedly formed group chats to share the answers to exam questions while taking tests remotely. The university is punishing these students harshly - and quickly, with measures ranging from instant class failures to expulsions.
  • In another case at an unnamed university, a student stands accused of hiring a test-taker to use their credentials, log in to the testing portal, and complete the exam in their stead.
  • At Penn State, professors are noticing a clear bump in class scores - leading them to suspect cheating on a mass scale. Some professors are implementing their own anti-cheating measures - or, simply, to do their best to determine who's cheating with the little information available to them.

Cheating and academic dishonesty isn't the only infraction spiking during the COVID-19 pandemic. With the sudden shift to all-virtual learning platforms, some schools have noticed an increase in student-to-student misconduct. The Chicago Public Schools Office of Student Protections noted that accusations and reports of cyberbullying rose in the second half of the year.

As American academia scrambles to figure out how to adapt effectively to remote learning systems, many schools are adopting a very low tolerance for any form of misconduct. In the age of a worldwide pandemic, institutions are deciding to mete out harsh punishments without asking too many questions - which results in students left confused, abandoned, and often wondering what to do next.

If you're facing what you may believe to be unwinnable situation at your school due to pandemic-related online learning, you need to reach out and ask for help because all is not lost and there are ways to successfully resolve even what may seem to be hopeless situations. The circumstances brought about by COVID-19, and subsequent precautions should not cost you your academic career.

Whether you need assistance navigating your school's disciplinary due process or you want to know your options for successful student defense, Joseph D. Lento will be able to help you. Call the Lento Law Firm today at 888-535-3686 for more information about our services.

This week, we're taking a look at the most impactful student defense stories and updates from 2020. Check back here for the next installment in this series.

About the Author

Joseph D. Lento

"I pride myself on having heart and driving hard to get results!" Attorney Joseph D. Lento passionately fights for the futures of his clients nationwide. Attorney Lento and his team represent students and others in disciplinary cases and various other proceedings at colleges and universities across the United States. Attorney Lento has helped countless students, professors, and others in academia at more than a thousand colleges and universities across the United States, and when necessary, he and his team have sought justice on behalf of clients in courts across the nation. He does not settle for the easiest outcome, and instead prioritizes his clients' needs and well-being. Joseph D. Lento is licensed in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York, is admitted pro hac vice as needed nationwide, and he can help you or your student address any school-related issue or concern anywhere in the United States.


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If you, or your student, are facing any kind of disciplinary action, or other negative academic sanction, and are having feelings of uncertainty and anxiety for what the future may hold, contact the Lento Law Firm today, and let us help secure your academic career.

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