Can Teachers Really Tell If You’re Cheating on Canvas?

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Amidst a digital revolution in modern education, students are faced with new innovations in web-based learning management systems like Canvas. One rumor that has sparked serious debate regarding the site is whether or not teachers can see if a student attempts to cheat. 

While some sources insist that without webcam monitors students can switch tabs freely, viral videos on platforms such as TikTok and Instagram show teachers getting notified as soon as students leave the Canvas website during assessments. The questioned accuracy of these claims prompts a deep dive into first-hand student and administrative experiences with this issue. 

One student said, “I think it’s fairly common for certain classes to cheat on online assessments because it is easy to slip your phone or sheet of paper behind your screen without having to switch tabs.”

Geometry Enriched teacher Rachel Andres can clarify these misconceptions. “We actually have a program called Lightspeed Relay, which allows us to monitor student screens,” she said. “However, one teacher is never able to watch up to 30 screens at a time, which is where it becomes difficult.”

Another student who is familiar with monitoring systems said, “I only have Canvas tests in two of my classes, and in one of them pretty much everyone Googles the answers, but —- are care-free because the quizzes have nearly no impact on our grades to begin with,” they explained. “On the other hand, it’s impossible in my other class where the teacher will grant an immediate zero if we even have another tab open on the browser.” 

“There are some limitations [to Lightspeed Relay]” said Andres. “On some types of Canvas assessments, it doesn’t let you see 100% of a student’s screen. However, ultimately in AP classes, the big assessments are what ultimately define your grade. So, if you cheat on a reading quiz, the teacher is likely going to decide that it isn’t worth their time and energy to call you out.”

“On one of my finals freshman year, I was in a class that I felt was taught poorly, and almost everybody I knew in that class cheated on the final,” said another student. “The teacher didn’t think to check the Canvas history either, so to my knowledge, no one was ever caught.”

Andres, however, stresses the importance of teacher-student relationships rather than solely academic integrity when it comes to cheating. “Students must know that we understand that they may be motivated to cheat, especially if they wholeheartedly believe they’re going to fail,” she explained. “I don’t ever take it personally if I do see them cheating.”

Another topic that many students are curious about is how browser history found through campus Wi-Fi plays into this issue. Andres explained, “[Teachers] do not have access to the browser history, only district and technicians have access to it. However, if there was a big assessment or final and we suspected cheating, we could ask one of those people with access to see if anyone used the internet at the time of the test.”

“This is my philosophy,” explained a student. “I know that tests are there to help us better understand course material. We always have access to review materials anyway.”

Penelope is a sophomore at M-A, and this is her first year in journalism. She is interested in writing music reviews as well as incorporating unique student perspectives into her stories. In her free time, you can find her practicing tennis, watercolor painting, or knotting away at her growing collection of friendship bracelets.

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