Online education has without a doubt many benefits, especially for individuals who must continue to work full time as they pursue their education, have familial responsibilities, or are otherwise unable to attend classes in the traditional classroom setting. Online education has allowed deployed military individuals to continue their education; it has allowed individuals without easy physical access to education a way of getting a meaningful, legitimate education. However, there are significant challenges which undermine the benefits of online education. Among these challenges include adequate and equitable access to technology; affordability; computer literacy; the amount of self-discipline required; the effect on communication between the online learner, their classmates, and the instructor(s); the fact that it is not universally applicable to every discipline or style of learning/teaching (Andrew, Maslin-Prothero, & Ewens, 2015); and issues of academic integrity.
Issues of academic integrity seem the most problematic. In many ways, academic integrity on the part of the learner is basically on the honor system – the instructor has no real way of knowing whether or not the learner is being academically honest. This seems to have facilitated lower levels of academic integrity among modern students, including among nursing students (Morgan & Hart, 2013). While resources like Turnitin can be used in online learning platforms, plagiarizing papers and assignments aren’t the only issues of academic integrity.
Lockdown browsers are no guarantee of appropriate behavior on the part of the test-taker; proctors can be employed, which presents a significant solution, but it is not perfect. Of course, an additional problem in the process is that many students are not likely to self-report occurrences of academic dishonesty, so it is difficult to really understand the phenomenon in that regard. In that sense, academic dishonesty is definitely a formidable problem.
- Andrew, L., Maslin-Prothero, S., & Ewens, B. (2015). Enhancing the online learning experience using virtual interactive classrooms. Australian Journal Of Advanced Nursing, 32(4), 22-31.
- Morgan, L., & Hart, L. (2013). Promoting academic integrity in an online RN-BSN program.
Nursing Education Perspectives, (4), 240.