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As a result of online learning, cheating has become a concern.

Even if professors chose to go back to in person classes after Oct. 5, the majority of professors still offer an online option for students who are uncomfortable with attending in-person classes. With online learning, cheating has become a concern and this is where the Canvas Activity Log comes into play. 

With the help of Juhong Christie Liu, the head of online learning, and Andrea Adams, the assistant dean for learning innovation & design, the log’s main goal to prevent students from cheating was established this past week. 

“This feature is intended to help investigate technical problems during the process of quiz taking,” Liu said. “For instance, an internet interruption. It may help measure the time focusing on taking the quiz, with the condition of a smooth network and computer capacity.”  

The Canvas Activity Log will show what a student is doing within each minute of the quiz or exam. For example, if during the fifth minute of the exam a student answers numerous questions, the Canvas Activity log would pick up that information and label it all under the fifth minute of the exam. However, the log can mark students as “inactive” during the exam. 

“The ‘inactive’ or ‘stop viewing’ status occurs when a student navigates away from the quiz (closes the browser tab, opens a new browser tab, or navigates to a different program),” Liu said. 

However, there have been students from all different universities who have run into issues with what the “inactive” marking really means. On a Canvas community forum entitled “Quiz Log Interpretation” there are several people who claim they had issues with the Canvas Activity Log. 

“I did some testing in a sandbox course and here’s what I found: It seems like there are three times the ‘Stopped viewing the Canvas quiz-taking page’ message occurs; when you’re inactive within Canvas (after 30 seconds), when your mouse is inactive in a window outside of Canvas (after 15 seconds) and when you actually click outside of Canvas. The ‘Resumes’ message occurs when you move your mouse after being inactive or when you click back within Canvas after being active in another window.” 

Sophomore Eric Hayes said he believes this is what happened to him during an exam he took during the month of the second week of October. After his professor told him that they would be using the Canvas Activity Log to determine if students were cheating on that particular exam, he had concerns. 

“I had heard from my roommate that the Canvas Activity Log was not an accurate way to determine if a student was cheating or not, so I did a bunch of research on it before I took the exam,” Hayes said. “I found the Canvas forum about it being inaccurate but I thought I’d just give it a try and see what happened.” 

After completing his exam, several days later Hayes received an email from his professor claiming that the Canvas Activity Log said he left the exam page 99 times. 

“I was really mad because I didn’t leave the exam screen once. I got 25 points taken off of my score when I didn’t even cheat,” Hayes said. “I emailed my professor back and sent them all of the information I found online about the inaccuracy of the Canvas Log, I was told that they were going to look into it, but I haven’t heard anything in a week.” 

Concerns like these beg the question: Is the Canvas Activity Log a reliable way to determine if a student is cheating on an assignment? 

“Reviewing the activity log for students may prompt an opportunity to talk more between a professor and a student about the quiz, such as if a student stops viewing the quiz page because of in need of more time to understand the question or because of technical access,” Liu said. “However, it’s important to note that quiz actions may occur for a number of reasons that are permissible and do not infer cheating,” Liu said. 

The Canvas Activity Log, by definition, can be used to help students and professors communicate about any issues that may arise during a quiz or exam. Students who are already put under stress about online learning now may also have to deal with the possibility of being falsely accused of cheating.

Contact Mackenzie Munn at munnmc@dukes.jmu.edu. For more coverage of JMU and Harrisonburg news, follow the news desk on Twitter @BreezeNewsJMU.