Student faces academic misconduct charges for running Facebook study group

Andy Merrett Internet, Web 2.0 1 Comment

facebook_logo.jpgIt seems the powers that be are taking quite a dim view of the Internet, because it’s so darn powerful and can bring so many people, and so much information, together.

What Chris Avenir, a first-year student at Ryerson University, though was an innocent online group to help students to improve their understanding of physics, has been branded as outright cheating.

He now faces charges of academic misconduct for allowing 146 of his classmates to seek help on homework (sorry, assignment) questions worth 10% of their overall mark — one count for setting up the group, and one for each other student who joined in. Wow, just think what would’ve happened if the group had gone global (mind you, this is physics we’re talking about, not beach volleyball)

He now faces expulsion from the course — his case will be heard next week.

Kim Neale, 26, the student union’s advocacy co-ordinator, said that all the students were “scared shitless” about using Facebook, even though she claims it’s no different to any other form of study group.

That’s the worst part; it’s creating this culture of fear, where if I post a question about physics homework on my friend’s wall (a Facebook bulletin board) and ask if anyone has any ideas how to approach this – and my prof sees this, am I cheating?” she asked.

Avenir suggested that, “if this kind of help is cheating, then so is tutoring and all the mentoring programs the university runs and the discussions we do in tutorials.”

He even had his class grade changed from a “B” to an “F” after the professor discovered the group (yes I know — professors use Facebook?)

So, what do you reckon? Is this cheating? Or should the University get with the 21st century and realise that the Internet is here to stay?

(Via The Star)

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By Andy Merrett | March 7th, 2008





  • http://www.s2999.com Jen

    I don’t think it’s cheating. Of course, it depends on the nature of the discussion on Facebook (i.e. ‘i did this and it didn’t work, help’ or ‘here’s how to do it, just copy the whole thing’), but it’s exactly the same thing like students getting together to do homework or a tutor/teacher helping them. The only difference is that it’s online. So wtf?