Facing the Consequences of Facebook

Dennis Faas's picture

Who's watching Facebook? More than just your World of Warcraft pals and drinking mates, it seems. A Toronto university student recently found out the hard way that the way you network in the virtual world can have very real consequences in the physical.

Chris Avenir, 18, is facing severe punishment -- perhaps even expulsion -- for creating a Facebook group designed to help students at Ryerson University exchange answers for how to fool an online testing system. Called "Dungeons/Mastering Chemistry Solutions", the group racked up about 147 members, most from the school's first year chemistry and computer science fields.

It didn't take the school long to catch on to the scheme, and Ryerson has since shut down the group. As a result, Avenir now faces a charge for every other member of the Facebook collective he created (146).

Surprisingly, many are criticizing Ryerson, and not Avenir, in the wake of the group's shutdown. Toronto-based tech expert Jesse Hirsh commented, "The online culture is outpacing the curriculum and education system...These students are being smart and using the Internet the way that it should be used. This is the future of education."

Although the school remains largely mum, for now, it appears the administration will indeed move for expulsion. In response, Hirsh says, "This is a very heavy-handed move...It's a culture clash of the status quo not being comfortable with what's happening online." (Source: canada.com)

Is it the school's obligation to predict that these technological leaps will outpace rather dated testing systems, or should students demonstrate the kind of morality expected of youths working towards a place in the professional world?

Is this just the case of an online study group, badly misinterpreted to be a sinister cheating network? (Source: thestar.com)

The case of Chris Avenir might give us some indication.

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