Pop Quiz: Books on Tape = Cheating?
Recently I was sitting in a meeting about a student, who we’ll call Kevin. In this meeting were Kevin’s parents, the guidance counselor, his case manager, myself and the other teachers who teach him. Kevin is undergoing a period of work avoidance, which is a relatively common problem. As we were discussing possible strategies to help him stay on top of his work the English literature teacher commented on how well Kevin was doing with To Kill a Mockingbird. She said that Kevin really seemed to like the book, he was staying on top of the reading and even getting ahead. He was also able to be an active participant in the book discussion, and had some insights into the novel that other students missed. At this point Kevin’s father scoffed and said, “Well Kevin isn’t really reading the book. He is listening to the book on tape.”
This struck me.
There is a mindset that equates listening to class content rather than reading it as cheating. This in my humble opinion is bullshit. Obviously listening to the book is giving Kevin access to the story. He is being exposed to the ideas in a great American novel. Does it matter that in order to process the information he has to listen to it? Could he have made the same insights if he was forced to only read the book?
The argument used to be that the only way to have access to information was to read it, so it is to the benefit of the student to force them to read, but that is not true anymore. Most computers, tablets and ebook readers have the option to listen to the text as well as read it. So as long as you can get an electronic version of the document or scan it into the computer you can have it read to you. Granted it is in an electronic voice and it does lose some of the nuances of the spoken word.
In my opinion Kevin should be praised for using an adaptive technology. He should not be belittled for it. He should be told here is how you can listen to all the textbooks in all your classes. He should be shown here is how you take a paper document, scan it in the computer and have the computer read it to you.
So my question to you School of Doubters is this: Is it cheating to listen to a text? or is it better to figure out the best way for you as an individual to access information and utilize it without shame?
The Pop Quiz is a question posed to you, the Scholars of Doubt. Look for it on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays in the afternoon (ET).