Published: 01st May 2021
Welcome to Reason: Would you cheat to gain a ‘Corona degree’?
Both professors and students candidly admit that examination safeguards are practically impossible to enforce in a remote-learning environment with hundreds of participants simultaneously online
I would prefer even to fail with honour than win by cheating — Sophocles (497- 406 BC). Born at Attica, he is one of the three ancient Greek tragedians whose plays have survived
This quote from Sophocles reflects the fact that cheating in education pre-dates the Christian era. Winning in exams is the ultimate target for many students today and the means employed for this are countless. In Bihar, for instance, answers are provided to those writing exams by persons climbing ladders up to the exam hall in the second floor while supervisors looked the other way. Coming to modern Greece, according to an AFP report from Washington and carried by The New Indian Express (18/4/21): Shuttered for over a year because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Greek universities are now grappling with a surge in cheating in online exams giving rise to a new reality: the “Corona degree”.
Both professors and students candidly admit that examination safeguards are practically impossible to enforce in a remote-learning environment with hundreds of participants simultaneously online. “In jest, we call the degrees to be awarded this season ‘corona degrees’,” says a professor. “Remote learning is supposed to be a supplementary education tool. When it completely subsumes teaching, problems begin,” he said. Sofia, a 20-year-old Psychology student at Aristotelio, said “Last summer, I took two exams on behalf of two of my friends and nobody realised. I logged in using their computers and personal registration codes. There was no requirements for an open camera during the exam. My two friends received a nearly perfect score without opening a book.” “Result averages are up and people we haven’t seen in years are showing up for exams because the system makes it easy to cheat,” said an assistant professor at Thrace’s Democritus University. He noted that only an open-camera examination can help restore transparency to the procedure.
“But it’s impossible to do that with up to 500 people taking part in an exam. So we break down the participants into groups, assigning different subjects to each team. We also try to limit the time available for answers. But even so, we cannot effectively address the problem.” Some students have already figured out counter-measures to overcome nearly any impediment to cheating. “Groups have formed on Messenger, Discord and other platforms,” said a 22-year-old Aristotelio University student. “Using split screens, the correct answers are shared in realtime during an exam without overseers realising, regardless of whether the camera is on or not,” he said.