Moving at the Speed of Creativity by Wesley Fryer

Cheating Guide and WikiBooks

WikiBooks (“a collection of open-content textbooks that anyone can edit”) has an entry now marked for deletion that should get educator attention.

“A guide to cheating during tests and examinations” does include the following at the top:

Disclaimer: All of the below material is for research purposes only, and neither Wikimedia nor the contributors towards this book will accept any liability for the actions of the readers. Some (most, in this case) of the below material is considered unethical and may be punishable.

The current table of contents includes the following topics:

A few definitions to consider
The rewards/dangers of cheating
Rationales of cheating
Rationales of prosecuting cheaters
Results of prosecution
General notes
Copying from a person
Application of codes
Copying from a pre-written source
Directly from textbook/notes
Cheat Sheet
Copying from a planted source
Locating Cheating Material on the Web
Test previewing

These kinds of resources which can assist those interested in carrying out acts of digital dishonesty are, unfortunately, likely to continue as fixtures in our 21st century informational environment. The availability of this resource on WikiBooks may present an ethical dilemma for the host and sponsors, however. Going down the road of censorship can be a slippery slope, so my guess would be they would let a document like this continue rather than go to the trouble of specifying strict censorship criteria. But maybe not. (See links at the bottom of this post which reveal the current status of these censorship debates.)

I have additional resources linked on my social bookmarks for Digital Dishonesty, including the podcast from several weeks ago of a TechForum Roundtable discussion about Digital Dishonesty.

On a much more positive note, WikiBooks really is a remarkable resource and should not be judged based solely on the content of this entry. The book of the month for November 2005, for example, is Consciousness studies. When you think about how expensive textbooks are, isn’t it remarkable we can have free access to great content like this? Unfortunately, there are bad apples in the barrel as well as good ones.

As a last point, WikiBooks’ general disclaimer should not be overlooked (at it certainly won’t be by critics of it.) The following is the gist of the disclaimer, with bold lettering in the original:

That’s not to say that you won’t find valuable and accurate information at Wikibooks, however please be advised that Wikibooks cannot guarantee, in any way whatsoever, the validity of the information found here. It may recently have been changed, vandalized or altered by someone whose opinion does not correspond with the state of knowledge in the particular area you are interested in learning about.

None of the authors, contributors, sponsors, administrators, sysops, or anyone else connected with Wikibooks in any way whatsoever can be responsible for the appearance of any inaccurate or libelous information or for your use of the information contained in or linked from these web pages.

So, what is the lessons here for educators, parents and school administrators?

1- Teachers need to craft assessments of student performance that cannot be faked. Performance-based assessment is critical.
2- Students need to learn how to ask good questions just as much as they need to learn how to find good answers.

For more on the latter suggestion, check out my latest podcast on “Luddite Literacy: Digital Tools or Toys for the 21st Century Classroom?”

If you are interested in following the latest WikiBook censorship debates, check out the Wikibooks:Votes for deletion and Wikibooks:Votes for undeletion.

If you enjoyed this post and found it useful, subscribe to Wes’ free newsletter. Check out Wes’ video tutorial library, “Playing with Media.” Information about more ways to learn with Dr. Wesley Fryer are available on

On this day..