The Loophole Generation
22 January 2008
I finally found some time to look through some of the recent Innovate (Journal of Online Education) issues. I was attracted to the article by Summerville and Fischetti about The Loophole Generation. They define the term thus:
We coined the phrase Loophole Generation to describe a group of students whose approach to coursework is influenced by the ease of online communication, hovering parents, a limited sense of intellectual curiosity, and a lack of experience in solving problems imaginatively. These students spend their time (and their instructors’ time) exploiting gaps in class policies or assignments—sometimes spending more time than would be necessary to complete a particular project in the first place.
Apart from the hovering parents I am certainly noticing this phenomenon with some of my classes after the introduction of Blackboard (iLearn). It was particularly noticeable last semester (073) with the release of each practical assignment. Much time was spent redefining the requirements, always reducing the functionality needed, until most members of the class felt able to attempt the work.
This leads one to a strategy where the practical assignment requirements should be artificially inflated and made more vague knowing that loopholing will take place. One might even elicit the help of social media systems like a wiki to ease the loopholing process!