I am in a professional evening program, it is full of students like myself that have full time jobs. Recently we had a professor give us a take home exam that said "no collaboration, no internet usage" (this is because the program is very compressed and doesn't have time for in class exams). When I talked to people about the exam, the first thing out of their mouth was "I'm going to use the internet, that requirement is ridiculous". In my personally opinion no one is going to take the time to exclude themselves from a tool that they use every day because a professor says so.

The professor is quite experienced, but spend a lot of his recent career in administration instead of teaching and is just getting back to being a lecturer.

All courses in this program are curved, so it is disadvantageous to not do what all other students are doing. I would like to let the professor know that his teaching style is very out of date and that saying "no internet" on a take home is guaranteed to be ignored, and frankly doesn't make sense given how modern people learn. (I'm a programmer by trade so if they told me "no internet" at work they might as well fire me)

  • Related link: academia.stackexchange.com/q/38073/72855
    – Solar Mike
    Commented Oct 3, 2018 at 20:26
  • What is the question here? Whether this is a good idea? Alternatives to this type of testing?
    – eykanal
    Commented Oct 4, 2018 at 4:33
  • @all commenters: Please keep the tone civil.
    – eykanal
    Commented Oct 4, 2018 at 4:35

3 Answers 3


I don't think that giving a takehome where one asks for no internet is at all unreasonable. At the same time, such an exam should have some precautions against internet use. When I've given takehomes I've generally made sure that the problems didn't turn up with 5-10 minutes of Googling. That said, if this is enough of a problem that students are discussing this, the best thing to do maybe to drop the professor a note and let them know what other students are doig.


I think that you are correct that in most cases a no-internet rule today is unrealistic. I have given take home exams that permit mostly unlimited searching for things, but no cooperation with or feedback from other people. But the questions you ask on such an exam are a bit different from those you would ask in a monitored environment. It isn't worth the effort of asking about "facts" when the facts are now available to all. You have to ask for demonstration of skills. It may be that the prof has already constructed such an exam in which searching won't be effective in changing the grade. (Asking others for help is a different situation, I realize.)

You are responsible for your own ethical behavior, of course, in all situations, not just academic ones. This remains true even when others behave unethically. So it is a dilemma. You don't really want ethical behavior to disadvantage you, even though studying so that you don't need to break the rules will be a long term benefit.

But the correct way to address it is to talk to the professor in person, pointing out your dilemma and the fact that you have heard that others will "cheat". Point out that an uncheckable restriction is highly likely to be violated by many and that only the honest will suffer. I wouldn't use email for such a thing, but it might be enough.

Even better is to have a group of students all of whom want to be ethical to visit the prof as a group to raise these concerns. Strength and safety in numbers. The message would be harder to ignore.

I can't guess what the prof will do with your comments. However, I he "winks" at you and says, explicitly or implicitly, "I know and expect that." then you know it is just a game with hidden rules. But the hidden rules are still rules, so play the game as it is. But you ethically need that sort of feedback from the prof so that you can be honest with yourself.


In theory, the internet is just like books and notes: if these are allowed then it makes sense that internet is allowed too. But of course these days, due to the sheer volume of stuff, it is very difficult to make sure as a Professor that the problem you thought of giving on the exam does not appear somewhere, for example here on SE. I say give your Professor the respect he/she deserves and use your internet to only look up books and lecture notes, and not SE, quora, or other Q&A and homework sites.

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