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Is Posting a Professor’s Materials Online Considered Cheating?

By January 10, 2022April 6th, 2022No Comments

You might be surprised to learn how posting study materials online can get you accused of an academic honor code violation. For example, after taking a particularly hard class, you might be tempted to share the professor’s materials with future students to help them get a head-start on the course. 

You might be doing this with the best of intentions, but keep in mind that the professor may consider those materials to be their intellectual property and your school honor code may consider this to be some form of plagiarism or other academic honor violation.

Many universities will have a section in their code of conduct identifying course materials as the professor’s intellectual property. So be sure to check that and check your professor’s syllabus for prohibitions and limitations on the use of the professor’s materials.

Do you tutor other students or receive tutoring yourself? Be wary of whether posting material on such platforms as kahoot! or Quizlet may also run afoul of academic honor codes.

At DC Student Defense, we have years of experience defending students from online cheating accusations and academic dishonesty disciplinary charges. Read on to learn more about the consequences of posting your professor’s course materials online.

What Counts as Cheating?

As a result of COVID -19, more students than ever are taking online classes. In that context, it can be easy to make an honest mistake, consequently getting accused of cheating.

There are a lot of different activities that fall under the umbrella “academic misconduct” that not everyone might consider cheating.

Here are some to avoid:

  • Using Chegg or similar apps
  • Using your phone during an exam
  • Collaborating on solo work
  • Impersonating another student online
  • Plagiarism
  • Sharing private course materials with other students

Follow your professor and school’s policies to a “T” to avoid any misunderstandings. And if you’re unsure about whether you’re allowed to do something, ask your professor. 

It’s possible that you have a professor who doesn’t mind you sharing their course materials online. Unless you have their express permission, it’s best not to risk it.

Check out our blog post on 5 ways to avoid cheating accusations for more information.

How Can My Professor Tell It Was Me?

There are all sorts of ways that professors can monitor their students to catch them cheating. If you’re posting course materials to anonymous chat boards, it might be a bit more difficult for the school to find out who did it. But that doesn’t mean they won’t find a way.

Here are a couple of ways that you might get caught sharing your professor’s course materials:

  • Other students: The most common way to get caught sharing your professor’s course materials is to be ratted out by a fellow student.
  • Secure exam browsers: If your school has installed any kind of program on your program to detect cheating, they might be able to find out that way.
  • Old-fashioned sleuthing: Your school might be able to track you down by your IP address, or find personal accounts linked to the account that you shared it with.

Regardless, it’s better to be safe than sorry when it comes to accusations of academic dishonesty.

What Do I Do if I’m accused of cheating?

Disciplinary charges for cheating can have serious academic consequences, ranging from a failing grade to expulsion from school.

Luckily, there are some steps you can take to protect your rights and preserve your future:

  • First of all, read through your official accusation carefully to make sure you understand everything that you’re being accused of. Make sure you’re familiar with your school’s guidelines for pursuing cheating accusations.
  • Next, make sure you don’t talk to anyone at your school about the accusations– especially the professor. Don’t try to argue with them or defend yourself without first talking to an attorney.
  • Finally, you’ll want to contact a student defense attorney who has experience defending students against accusations of cheating. These attorneys will know exactly what evidence you’ll need to gather to support your side, and how to defend your rights from being violated by your university.

Contact DC Student Defense

At DC Student Defense, we know how school administrators think. We have the experience to walk you through the process and guide you towards an outcome with your academic future protected. Don’t hesitate to contact us for a free consultation if you’re accused of cheating at your college or university.

These materials have been prepared by Cohen Seglias for informational purposes only and are not intended and should not be construed as legal advice.

Shan Wu

Author Shan Wu

Shan’s professional and personal background gives him a unique understanding of academic institutions and the criminal justice system. A former federal prosecutor in Washington, D.C., he is at home in D.C. Courts and very familiar with all of the Washington, D.C. law enforcement agencies, especially the Metropolitan Police Department. His parents were university professors so he grew up in a university environment. He understands the mindset of academic institutions. As a prosecutor, he supervised in the misdemeanor crime section. This is the section of the Washington, D.C. prosecutor’s office that handles most college student cases. His understanding of charging decisions and how judges view these cases is invaluable to his student clients and their families. Shan served as a federal prosecutor in the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia for over ten years. During his tenure there, now Attorney General Eric H. Holder, Jr. appointed him to supervisory positions in the Misdemeanor Trial Section and also in a police corruption task force. His outstanding legal work in the government was recognized through numerous Special Achievement Awards from the Justice Department as well as awards conveyed by law enforcement agencies and community groups. From 1999-2000, Shan served as Counsel to Attorney General Janet Reno, advising her on criminal and civil investigations, E-Gov, E-Commerce (electronic signatures, internet gambling, internet telephony, privacy & public access issues in electronic court filings), congressional oversight, and legislative review. His responsibilities included serving as liaison to the FBI, DEA, Criminal Division, Executive Office of United States Attorneys, National Institute of Justice, and White House Counsel’s Office. Shan serves on the D.C. Bar Association’s Hearing Committee of the Board on Professional Responsibility and is a past president of the Asian Pacific American Bar Association for the Greater Washington, D.C. area. He is a 1988 graduate of Georgetown University Law Center, where he graduated Order of the Barristers, edited two law reviews, and was Co-Director of the Moot Court Program. He holds a B.A. in English Literature from Vassar College as well as a Master’s Degree in Creative Writing from Sarah Lawrence College. Following law school, he clerked for the late Hon. Jerry Buchmeyer, U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas, and the late Eugene Wright, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. He is admitted to practice law in the District of Columbia and Connecticut.

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