Aug. 30, 2011 at 11:12 AM ET
You may know of it among your college friends, or if you're a parent, among your kids' friends: plagiarism is becoming as common as Wi-Fi connections at coffee shops.
The Pew Research Center, in conjunction with the Chronicle of Higher Education, recently surveyed 1,055 college presidents from two- to four-year schools, private and public. More than half of those top officials said they've seen an increase in plagiarism in the past 10 years. Nearly all of them say computers and the Internet have played a major role in the rise in stealing others work and claiming it as their own
The yin and the yang of the Internet and education is profiled in the survey, "The Digital Revolution and Higher Education," which also includes asurvey of 2,142 adults ages 18 and older. Among Pew's key findings:
The public looks down on the value of online courses; college presidents do not."Only 29 percent of the public says online courses offer an equal value compared with courses taken in a classroom. Half (51 percent) of the college presidents surveyed say online courses provide the same value.
And, they think online classes are the future, with half saying 10 years from now most of their students will be learning that way. Right now, 15 percent say "most of their current undergraduate student" have taken an online class.
Twenty-three percent of college grads say they have taken a class online; the percent is twice that for those who graduated in the past 10 years.
Online courses are becoming more available: 77 percent of college presidents say their schools now offer online courses, with public universities leading the way, Pew says. "While 89 percent of four-year public colleges and universities offer online classes, just 60 percent of four-year private schools offer them."
Textbooks will go digital. Ten years from now, more than half the textbooks used by undergrads "will be entirely digital," say 62 percent of college presidents.
Computers and phones in the classroom.Among recent grads, 57 percent said when they were in college, they used a laptop, smartphone or tablet computer in class "at least sometime." Most colleges and universities "do not have institutional guidelines in place for the use of these devices in class," Pew found. "Some 41 percent of college presidents say students are allowed to use laptops or other portable devices during class; at 56 percent of colleges and universities it is up to the individual instructors. Only 2 percent of presidents say the use of these devices is prohibited."
College presidents are "with it" when it comes tech and social networking: 87 percent say they use a smartphone daily; 49 percent use a tablet such as the iPad "at least occasionally," and 42 percent say they use an e-reader such as the Kindle or Nook.
Facebook is also a resource for them; 32 percent say they're on the social networking site weekly or more often; 18 percent say they use Twitter "at least occasionally" — but presumably not when they're in a class or meeting.