Dartmouth’s Geisel School of Medicine says it is dropping an online fraud investigation that led the school to falsely accuse several students, allegations that have sparked an outcry among faculty, alumni and experts technology.
In March, Dartmouth accused 17 students of cheating based on a review of certain online activity data on Canvas – a popular learning management system where professors post assignments and students submit assignments – in distance exams. The school quickly removed seven of the cases after at least two students argued that administrators mistook automated Canvas activity for human fraud.
Currently, Dartmouth is also bringing charges against the remaining 10 students, some of whom have faced expulsion, suspension, failing course and misconduct marks on record. Their education may have derailed their medical careers.
“I have decided to deny all allegations regarding the honor code,” Duane A. Compton, the dean of the medical school, said in an email to the Geisel community Wednesday night, adding that the filing The student’s academic record will not be affected. “I apologized to the students for what they went through.”
Dartmouth’s decision to dismiss the allegations follows a software review by The New York Times, which found that student devices can automatically generate Canvas activity data even when no one is using them. . Dartmouth’s practice has been condemned by some former students, along with some faculty members at other medical schools.
A Dartmouth spokesman said the school could not comment further on the tuition waiver for privacy reasons. The school’s agreements with the students accused are not final yet, and the students did not immediately return a request for comment.
The fraud investigation has turned the pastoral Ivy League campus into a national battleground over escalating school surveillance during the pandemic.
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While many universities, including Dartmouth, require students to use special software to lock their devices during remote exams, Geisel has gone further by using a second system, Canvas , to monitor students’ activity during exams remotely without their knowledge. That’s unusual because Canvas was not designed as a forensic tool.
Tech experts say Dartmouth’s use of Canvas raises many questions. While some students may have cheated, these experts say, it is difficult for school administrators to distinguish cheating from deception based on the type of Canvas data snapshot Dartmouth has taken. use.
The case also brought attention to Dartmouth’s proceedings after the students were denounced.
Some of the students allegedly said that Dartmouth had impaired their ability to defend themselves. They had less than 48 hours to respond to the allegations, were not provided with a complete data log for the exams, and were advised to plead guilty even though they denied cheating or were given only two minutes to bring the charges forward. their case in online hearings, according to interviews with six of the students and a review of documents.
In an interview in April, Dr. Compton said the school’s methods of identifying possible fraud were fair and valid. The administrators provided the accused students with all the data that they relied on to indict fraud, he said. He denied that the student affairs office advised those who said they did not cheat to plead guilty.
In his email Wednesday, he had a different tone.
“As we look to the future, we must ensure fairness in our honors code review process, especially in an academic setting that includes more distance learning,” said Dr. write. “We will learn from this and we will do better.”