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Instead, educators must rise to the new challenge by making it harder to cheat, by informing new students of expectations as well as consequences. The negative consequences of getting caught must be specifically adapted to current reality, so we keep pace in the technological arms race against those who would profit by gaming the system. If online learning is the way of the future, then university policies and practices around cheating need to adapt fast.
But perhaps Socrates has yet another lesson for us. Socrates, who wrote nothing, established no school, even denied he was a teacher, nevertheless had an outsized impact on a few individuals, like Plato, thanks to whom we still know of the old sage of ancient Athens.
Despite his denials, Socrates was a teacher after all. For teaching is not merely the imparting of facts. Teaching is also modelling. Modelling virtue is teaching virtue. By exhibiting the virtues of hard work, intellectual honesty, and integrity in all our interactions with students, we are also teachers.
The need for such role models is even stronger now, given that there are so many successful cheaters, lying leaders, rich and famous scoundrels. Knowing that virtues can be lived, and not merely espoused, we can give students a better role model than the cheaters provide. The challenge will be to find avenues to demonstrate this in the virtual learning context. As we embrace the digital world, we remain optimistic that educators of higher learning will rise to this challenge.
Gira Bhatt teaches psychology at Kwantlen Polytechnic University. Michael Picard teaches philosophy at Douglas College.
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