The Backspin on Cheating Online

Serena Williams was interviewed on national television after her 2011 first round US Open Tennis tournament match. She indicated that she was a little concerned about her focus because she was starting classes during the tournament. When asked which classes, she said they were online classes, so she was hoping that her sister Venus could do her work for her because she was “really smart.”

OK — so Serena was likely kidding and it’s clear she has the drive and focus to be an excellent online learner — but her comments also demonstrate that it’s acceptable to joke about cheating in online programs. Would Serena make the same remark if she was actually attending classes on a campus? Would people laugh?

If they haven’t figured it out already, schools that offer online learning programs need to improve on and then protect the integrity of their programs.

Some students are not joking about having their smart sister take classes for them — and many employers won’t be amused when they have to think about whether a job applicant from an online program was the one that deserved the credit for learning what is required for the job.

Of course, Serena doesn’t really need a new job!

Douglas Winneg, CEO & Founder, Software Secure

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