Dartmouth Geisel School of Medicine says it is sinking an online fraud investigation As a result, the school mistakenly accused some students, allegations that sparked an outcry among faculty, alumni and technology experts.
In March, Dartmouth accused 17 students of fraud based on a review of certain online activity data on Canvas – a popular learning management system where professors post assignments and students submit their work – during remote exams. The school quickly dropped seven of the cases after at least two students argued that administrators mistook automated canvas activities for human fraud.
Now Dartmouth is also dropping allegations against the remaining 10 students, some of whom have faced expulsion, suspension, course failure and misconduct grades on their academic records that could have derailed their medical careers.
“I have decided to dismiss all code of honor charges,” said Duane A. Compton, the dean of the medical school, in an email to the hostage community on Wednesday evening, adding that the students’ academic records were not affected. “I apologized to the students for what they went through.”
Dartmouth’s decision to dismiss the charges followed a software review by the New York Times which found that students’ devices could automatically generate canvas activity data even when no one was using them. Dartmouth’s practices have been condemned by some alumni along with some faculties in other medical schools.
A Dartmouth spokesman said the school could not comment on the end of the charges due to privacy concerns. The school’s agreements with the accused students are not yet final and the students did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
The fraud investigation turned the Ivy League pastoral campus into a national battlefield over escalating school surveillance during the pandemic.
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While many universities, including Dartmouth, require students to use special software that locks their devices during remote exams, Geisel went further and used a second system, Canvas, to retrospectively track student activities during remote exams without their knowledge . This was unusual because Canvas was not designed as a forensic tool.
Technology experts said Dartmouth’s use of canvas raises questions. Although some students may have cheated, it would be difficult for the school administration to distinguish fraud from non-fraud based on the type of canvas data snapshots Dartmouth used.
The case was also notable for Dartmouth’s trial after the students were charged.
Some of the students accused said Dartmouth had paralyzed their ability to defend themselves. They had less than 48 hours to respond to the charges, were not given full data logs for the exams, and were asked to plead guilty despite denying the fraud or were given interviews with, according to. just two minutes to bring six of the students to online hearings to bring their cases and a review of the files.
In an interview in April, Dr. Compton that the school’s methods of identifying possible fraud cases are fair and valid. Administrators, he said, provided the accused students with all the data on which the fraud charges were based. He denied that the student bureau advised those who said they did not cheat to plead guilty.
He adopted a different tone in his Wednesday email.
“As we look to the future, we need to ensure fairness in our code of ethics review process, especially in an academic setting that includes more distance learning,” wrote Dr. Compton. “We’ll learn from it and do better.”