The challenges of academic integrity in distance education are presented

On the 15th of December, the Ombudswoman for Academic Ethics and Procedures dr. Loreta Tauginienė participated in the international conference ”Implementation of quality distance education” organised by the Centre for Quality Assessment in Higher Education. At the conference, she presented the results of the Office’s study “Challenges of Distance Education for Academic Ethics during the COVID-19 Pandemic” and the guidelines “Ensuring Academic Ethics in Organising Distance Education” published this month.

The Head of the Office emphasized that higher education institutions had made considerable efforts to properly prepare for the organisation of distance education, namely improved internal procedures, paid greater attention for prevention of unethical behaviour and monitoring of classes and reports, sought answers to questions related to personal data protection, etc. Also, looking at the results of this study, Dr Loreta Tauginienė noticed a paradoxical phenomenon, that higher education institutions clearly named specific manifestations of unethical behaviour of students precisely at the time when they were furthest from the teacher, not in the classroom, i.e., continued their studies at a distance. Nevertheless, it would be wrong to say that distance education has led to an increase in student fraud.

The Head of the Office Dr Loreta Tauginienė drew attention to the need to find a balance between increased control and underdeveloped trust culture in the academic community and invited to get acquainted with the guidelines prepared by the Office on ensuring academic ethics in organising distance learning.