Tagged with " plagiarism"

Is Big Brother watching?

Nov 22, 2011 by     1 Comment     Posted under: Be Responsible

I have been using TurnItIn a lot of late and it has got me wondering is it something that I actually agree with. Is the purpose of it to act like “police” and catch students out? Or it meant to be used it to address the issue of plagiarism?

For those of you who haven’t heard of or used TurnItIn before this is a website where students submit their assignments (usually essays) and the work is scanned to check for “originality” (i.e. have they plagiarized). Students and their teacher are then given a report which identifies what percentage of the work has been “copied” and identifies the location of the “copied” sections. That is the basic functionality of the website, for more information check out the video below:

Now you have an idea of how it works I am sure you can imagine my dilemma. When I am using it am I trying to “catch someone out” or trying to highlight the incidents of plagiarism? It is something I have thought a lot about and as time has passed the more I support the use of TurnItIn.

Click on picture to see complete graphic

It has been well documented that we are living in the “copy/paste” generation and as we all know it is easier than ever to take someone else’s work and call it your own. Technology has enabled this shift and we all have embraced it. But often in education we have struggled to keep up to date with this shift. Teachers still emphasize the importance of creating original work and citing sources but it is very tempting for a student to “take” a section of someone else’s work.

Services like TurnItIn provide both teachers and students with the tools to review their work. Yes, it can be used as a way to “police” student’s work but with a bit of attention it can be used as a learning opportunity for both students and teachers. I would go further and say if students are required to submit all their work through TurnItIn throughout middle and secondary school they will become used to the procedure and will “realise” the parameters on their work. If it is only used for final samples in the upper grades of secondary school students, of course, will feel as if teachers are trying to catch them out. But if it is part of the process they have “always” done then it becomes the routine.

So despite my initial reservations about using TurnItIn I have come to really appreciate the service and have to say that it is probably the coolest and most powerful educational website out there. If you are a teacher or student I would encourage you to give it a go. The results that it produces are really interesting – I randomly submit things I write through it and I am always amazed with the results.

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