Have you ever done a Google search on a topic and clicked on a variety of links that take you to various blog posts – all with the same article – virtually word for word? I’ve encountered this situation many times. As a former copy writer, I’m always a little stymied that businesses are willing to be so unoriginal. Don’t they know that they lose integrity with the public?
Now imagine this scenario in an online classroom. Students have a huge resource for information. Sometimes that resource must seem tempting. Why give thought or credit to someone else’s ideas when you can just as easily steal them. Again, it’s all about integrity.
Fortunately, there are some tools that assist with the prevention or detection of plagiarism. Three tools that will assist with detecting and preventing plagiarism are:
- Plagium. Copy and paste the questionable text into a search box. This is a great free of charge service, although participants must register to use it. The only downside, each search is limited to 250 characters.
- Turnitin. This is one of the cornerstones of online academic integrity. Turnitin will compare the student’s work to a vast collection of information – 24+ billion web pages, 300+ million student papers, and over 110,000 publications.
- Dupli Checker. Another great checker. Dupli Checker also operates in the “copy and paste” mode, but also displays the website with copied content and delivers an analysis report upon conclusion.
If you are interested in finding more resources to battle against plagiarism, check out this article at Educational Technology and Mobile Learning (http://www.educatorstechnology.com/2013/06/top-8-plagiarism-detector-tools-for.html).
At this point, I believe it’s essential that instructors rely on plagiarism detectors for written communications within an online course. The ability to access information readily, combined with the perceived “distance” in distance education makes it much easier to cheat. Some students simply don’t feel accountable to an instructor they’ve never met or seen.
Assessments are one method of testing students on their skills or knowledge gained in the classroom. Of course, an online assessment can easily become an open-book test. It’s almost impossible to keep students from relying on other resources when completing assessments. But maybe the student gains knowledge from looking up the materials for the assessment.
Ultimately, the internet is once again that great tool that continues to spin out of control. Unfortunately, there’s only so much we can do as instructors or instructional designers to combat it.