Jack London was the subject . . . In a high school classroom packed with computers, [the student] read a brief biography of London with single-paragraph excerpts from the author’s works. But the curriculum did not require him, as it had generations of English students, to wade through a tattered copy of “Call of the Wild” or “To Build a Fire.”
[The student], who had failed English 3 in a conventional classroom and was hoping to earn credit online to graduate, was asked a question about the meaning of social Darwinism. He pasted the question into Google and read a summary of a Wikipedia entry. He copied the language, spell-checked it and e-mailed it to his teacher.
Okey-dokey, then! If your teacher is some kind of automated software, I guess you're good to go with that answer. If this is flagged for plagiarism by a real teacher (as the article suggests), how do you have a conversation with the student that is a learning experience rather than a punitive conversation if you can't meet face to face?
I'm concerned that these students who "learn" in this manner are in for a world of hurt when they get to college. What happens if they haven't been taught already that "copy and paste from Wikipedia" isn't acceptable as a methodology?
What happens when they're asked to analyze a text, construct an argument, compare points of view, write a coherent response to a question, or any of those other pesky critical thinking skills that college instructors insist are important and that are, some say, the reason students go to college in the first place?
I can think of a couple of things that could happen:
1) There'll be an even greater culture shock for first-year college students when their skills meet a college-level set of expectations ("But I got all A's in high school!").
2) There'll be an increase in the number of "readiness" or remedial or whatever the college chooses to call them courses, which research suggests (via Dean Dad) don't help as much as they should--unless the state is strapped for cash and decides that remedial courses or extra programs cannot be offered at all, leaving students without support.
3) There'll be pressure on college teachers to "recalibrate" their expectations to the new normal for what high school graduates can do in terms of writing and reading.
4) The students could step up in as-yet unseen ways that might surprise us now. Since they've already taken responsibility for their education by the self-paced learning online, they might be more amenable to the kinds of instruction that we offer.