A student at Ryerson University in Toronto faces expulsion from the university for setting up a Facebook study group that discussed chemistry assignments.
This is a complicated issue that's made the newspapers here in Toronto. One of the undergraduate bloggers at the University of Toronto explains the situation and offers an opinion. Check out Expelled for cheating on Facebook?.
Unethical conduct in general, and cheating in particular, has become a major problem at universities around the world. Part of the problem is due to the availability of resources and contacts on the internet. This opens up new possibilities for circumventing the intent of assignments and essays—possibilities that weren't available a decade ago. Nobody knows how to deal with the new realities.
In this particular case, the Professor explicitly required that students complete the assignment individually without help from anyone else. That's a very reasonable requirement, in my opinion, and there probably were times the past when almost all students were honorable enough to obey this rule. Today, that sense of "honor" seems horribly old-fashioned. To most students it will not seem like cheating if they ask their friends for help with the assignments and share information. That's what happened on the Facebook study group.
Ironically, the public nature of Facebook is what brings the chemistry students together in the first place but it is also what revealed that they are violating the rules.
[Photo Credit: The Toronto Star: Student faces Facebook consequences]