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Five Ways Your Professor Knows You’re Lying

Did you ever see one of those movies where technology turns against humanity? Like “Enemy of the State” or Eagle Eye,” where an unsuspecting and relatively decent human being is tormented by a cell phone, GPS, or some other ill-tempered electronic controlled by bad guys?

That’s kind of what ANGEL is like. You think it’s your friend — it helps you when you forget what the assignment was, when you have to triple check your class’s attendance policy, or when you need to message your entire class at once to get someone’s notes from that day you missed when you were hungover last week. But ANGEL is not your friend. In fact, it’s telling your professor every way that you’re trying to cheat your way to good grades this semester.

Here’s how.

1. Your professor can see if you actually open a document or not on ANGEL.

“Faculty have tools that allow them to see when students access different items in ANGEL,” said Penn State Spokeswoman Lisa Powers. “They can run reports to show date and time of access, along with the number of times they are accessed.”

You can try to fake your way through a discussion about the article you forgot to read for Hispanic Literature, but your professor can see whether or not you actually opened it. They’ll know that you didn’t read that article, and you can bet your ass they’re going to call on you for the hardest question of the day just to watch you squirm. That is, if they don’t give a pop quiz.

2. Your professor can see how long it took you to take and submit that online quiz. 

“The submission report that faculty can view for a quiz shows IP addresses, start/end times, and duration,” said Powers. “There are detail reports that show when questions are saved, quizzes are resumed and submitted.”

This basically makes, “I tried to submit the quiz, but my WiFi failed!” about as functional an excuse as, “My dog ate my homework.” Except your professor doesn’t have detailed reports of your dog’s consumption habits, and they do have detailed reports of whether or not you even attempted to submit your quiz, and how long it took you if you did — so quickly copying the answers of a friend in the same class could land you in big trouble, if you earned a 100 percent after submitting the quiz in 15 seconds.

3. Your professor knows if you and other students work together when you submit your graded assignments from the same place. 

“IP addresses can be found for assignments that can be graded,” said Powers.

So basically, if you and a bunch of kids from your class meet up at your apartment to work on the quiz together, your professor can deduce from your IP addresses that you all cheated together. You know, if they’re suspicious enough to check on things like that.

4. Your professor can see whether you’re accessing the ANGEL page for your course at all. 

“Faculty can view users’ detailed activity in a course,” said Powers. “They can see when they enter, exit and what they accessed.”

That means that they’ll know if you aren’t looking at the powerpoint from the last class, whether you downloaded the template for your upcoming project, or just about anything else that you’re supposed to do but you really don’t. They’ll also be able to see if you don’t access a necessary page until a day (or hell, for us more experienced procrastinators, a few hours) before the assignment that necessitates said document is due.

5. ANGEL’s annoying best friend, TurnItIn, will tell your professor if you’re a big fat plagiarizer. 

“Via the Turnitin writing assessment toolset, instructors can provide feedback to students through markup tools, rubrics, proofing tools and originality reports to detect plagiarism,” said Powers.

Just in case you thought you could recycle your roommate’s English 015 paper from four years ago, know that TurnItIn will rat you out. You’ve been warned.

Basically, your professors are like Santa. They see you when you’re sleeping, they know when you’re awake, and they know if you’ve been bad or good — so outsmart the system, for goodness’ sake.

About the Author

Alicia Thomas

Alicia is a senior with majors in Print Journalism and Spanish and a minor in International Studies. Chances are that she's somewhere talking about her semester abroad or ranting about sexual assault prevention right now. She can be reached via Twitter (@aliciarthomas) or email ([email protected]).


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