Telegram has been used by students to communicate with each other since before the U of M made the switch to remote learning but, since then, the messaging app has seen a rise in usage.
According to one student in her second year, Telegram has only enhanced her university experience.
Grayson Cranney said that the app “helps me to clarify class schedules, have a community and allows me to remain engaged during class.”
“In the age of pandemic learning, it’s important to be able to keep up that momentum of wanting to learn,” she said.
She added that for her, and for many other students, “it’s really easy to get discouraged in regards to understanding material [and] thinking you are the only one struggling.”
In the faculty of arts, however, though there is no specific policy in place regarding chat forums, instructors are being warned that students may also be using the app and apps like it to cheat on their assignments.
The warning follows UMSU’s academic integrity campaign in December which was in response to a reported rise in cases of academic misconduct.
The campaign aimed to decrease the number of those cases by reminding students that the same rules apply for exams as they would in on-campus classes.
Associate dean of undergraduate affairs Heidi Marx encouraged instructors to “make it very clear to students that they are aware of the fact that students will use these chat forums, and to make it very clear what is appropriate and inappropriate participation in them.”
She reported that many cases of academic dishonesty are brought to the faculty’s attention by other students in the group chats.
Chat forums are not the only method of sharing course materials. Instructors also warned students against uploading copyrighted course content to sites that allow students to post course materials like slides and test answers.
Professors have made clear that sharing content onto sites like Chegg and CourseHero is “illegal […] and grounds for expulsion.”
Though there has been a rise in reports of academic dishonesty, it remains that Telegram chats will continue to be used by students.
Marx relayed the faculty’s basic message that it aims to convey, which is that “students should use whatever supports they can to succeed in their courses and to build a sense of community with each other in these difficult times short of engaging in academic dishonesty.”