Why I will never pursue cheating again

In other words, my theory is: Cheating (on a systematic level) happens because students try to get an edge over their peers/competitors. Even top-notch students cheat, in order to ensure a perfect grade. Fighting cheating is not something that professors can do well in the long run, and it is counterproductive by itself. By channeling this competitive energy into creative activities, in which you cannot cheat, everyone is better off.

Panos Ipeirotis — Why I will never pursue cheating again. A computer scientist teaching in a business school details a year of trying to combat cheating on assignments. Overall, he spent 45 hours addressing the problem during a 32 hour lecture course, and 22 of 108 enrolled students admitted cheating. Solutions could include:

  • Public projects – All of the work ends up public, so embarrassment is the deterring factor.
  • Peer review – Students have to present their work in class, and are judged by others.
  • Competitions – Grades are performance-based (e.g. students build websites to attract the greatest number of unique visitors).

Takeaway: If plagiarism is your biggest worry, you’re doing it wrong.

Workshop: Advanced WordPress with NYU’s Studio20, 5/8/11

On Sunday, Zach Seward invited me to cover advanced WordPress topics with students in Jay Rosen’s Studio20 class. For the past year I believe, they’ve had on-going, optional Sunday afternoon workshops on a variety of topics, including building web apps with Ruby and Sinatra. The workshops are intended to be a 4 hour introduction to a concept or tool, and started after students complained they weren’t being exposed to as many tools given the format of Studio20’s program. I’ll review what we did, what I took away from it, and add our notes to the bottom. Continue reading “Workshop: Advanced WordPress with NYU’s Studio20, 5/8/11”

Class: Blogging Best Practices, 4/25/11

Last night was the second of three Blogging Best Practices classes I’m teaching for the J-School. You can read my recap of the first class as a primer. Eight of the nine registered students showed up, and one of the Entrepreneurial Journalism students joined us. Overall, I’d give execution a “good.” We covered a fair bit of material but, as survey responses attest, the students are ready to move from theoretical to practical. We also ran out of time in a serious way. Recapping thoughts on the session, then class notes at the end. Continue reading “Class: Blogging Best Practices, 4/25/11”

Workshop: Website hack session, 4/20/11

It’s the middle of spring break, so only one student showed up at my office hours/workshop this evening. We started around 4:40 pm and ended an hour later. Specifically, we:

  • Reviewed how to change directories in the terminal and update her theme from the main Git repository.
  • Increased the number of images appearing on the homepage of her website. This also involved the Git workflow of committing her changes and pushing them to the origin repository.
  • Hid a couple of elements using CSS. She has a good grasp of how to do basic CSS.
  • Enabled the “ShareThis” plugin on single posts with the Twitter and Facebook buttons.

The project site is functionally complete. She wants to update the photo content before promoting it.

Her next big project is to convert the portfolio website mockups she’s done into a WordPress theme. I told her to read through the WordPress.org documentation as much as she can, and try to outline all of the files she might need. Content first, then markup, then polishing it with CSS. I think I’ll put together a workshop next week on building or modifying WordPress themes and promote it heavily.

Class: Blogging Best Practices, 4/11/11

Better way late than never on this one, I suppose. Monday night was the first of three editions for Blogging Best Practices. All nine students showed up. It went surprisingly well, especially considering I had only a nebulous idea of what I wanted to teach on Friday and 45 minutes to prepare the actual lesson before class. I suspect it illustrates the importance of knowing your material. Monday’s busyness continued through the week, but I’d like to nail down a few thoughts while they’re still lukewarm in my memory. The class notes are at the end of the post.

Continue reading “Class: Blogging Best Practices, 4/11/11”

Idea: More effective office hours

On Thursday, I want to try this out: students teaching one another. When everyone shows up, I’ll have them list the things they need to cover on the whiteboard. If I think one student can help with another student’s question, I’ll ask them to work with that other student. We’ll see how well it works.