#devlearn DevLearn 11 Keynotes and the Future of Cheating

At DevLearn 11, keynotes were presented by Dr. Michio Kaku, Tom Koulopolous, and Steve Rosenbaum. Who knew that these keynotes on future trends would also be related to cheating, academic honesty, and the next phase of learning?

According to Dr. Michio Kaku, in the near future, processors will cost a penny. When processors cost a penny, we’ll wear glasses or contact lenses that display whatever information we want, when we want. We’ll have artificial intelligence and expert systems making decisions for us. Everything will be wired with sensors constantly collecting data about us. The cloud will be everywhere.

Tom Koulopolous gave some (admittedly hard for me to understand) insight on what we should do with these possibilities and where we should drive innovation. It’s not about creating the next great invention, but creating the next great experience. We often invent things before we realize what we’re going to do with them, such as Apple products. In many ways, we don’t shape innovation, rather innovation shapes us. The challenge is in finding ways to use technology intelligently.

Steve Rosenbaum’s keynote provides practical direction for the technology evolution Dr. Kaku predicts and the experience innovation that Tom Koulopolous inspires us to drive. What do we do when technology and the speed of innovation is so rapid that it produces more data every two days than the amount of data generated from the beginning of time until 2003?

Rosenbaum suggests data curation will be the key to making sense of all this information. As a data curator, it will be our responsibility to filter through the sea of knowledge out there and repackage it into something our social circle can easily digest. We’ll each be curators for each other, sharing the knowledge that matters to us.

Soaking in these three keynotes, I see how the role of educators may need to change in response. In a world where knowledge is everywhere and instantly accessible, the model of educator as gatekeeper of knowledge becomes less relevant. Instead, it becomes increasingly important to be wayfinders and sense-makers of knowledge, and to pass on those wayfinding and sense-making skills to the next generation.

While attending DevLearn I also participated in Sloan-C’s workshop on Academic Integrity. Serious money is invested in tools to combat plagiarism and cheating. And still, cheating is heavily prevalent. In one study cited by Lori McNabb, one of the workshop facilitators, 70% of undergraduate student were found to cheat at least once in an academic year.

In a cloud-integrated society where we are literally swimming in information, are the old standards of memorization and taking tests without any supports still viable? If we do reach Dr. Kaku’s vision of knowing everything we need to know instantly, if expert systems and AI will be in place to make better decisions than we can, what happens to the definition of “cheating”?

What I think it means is that instead of focusing our time and money forcing students to perform while disconnected from knowledge to meet a grading standard, we should be guiding them to build deeper and more meaningful connections with the numerous sources of knowledge out there. We should take advantage of the affordances of all information, all the time, everywhere. The Academic Integrity workshop promoted learning activities where students synthesize multiple sources of knowledge, reflect on the connections they discover, and envision how that knowledge mashup applies to their own personal experience. This was offered as an alternative to assignments where one can simply copy and paste from Wikipedia.

In using these activities to guide students to develop their own methods of sense-making, attribution is key. The workshop went into great detail on creating an ethical community that values academic honesty as a key method to combating plagiarism. Koloupolous described younger generations who feel copyright laws and intellectual property stifles innovation. I have to wonder if any of these young folks have their own work created stolen and repackaged under someone else’s name without receiving credit for it. Mashups are a beautiful thing, but let’s promote acknowledging our information sources as much as we promote curation and remixing of information.

There is one major flaw. The nursing licensure exam, the NCLEX, is still a closed book exam. And while it’s fairly simple to suggest to a faculty member to make their online test open book, a national licensing organization is a much bigger fish. Tom Koulopolous did mention that it takes 50 years for innovations to develop, simply because it takes that long for the generation in which the innovation started to die off. I hope I don’t have to wait that long.

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