Plagiarism Detection and Prevention

What is plagiarism? Merriam Webster defines plagiarize as “to steal and pass off (ideas or words of another) as one’s own, to use (another’s production) without crediting the source, to commit literary theft, and to present as a new and original idea or product derived from existing source”.

With today’s technology, students can access hundreds of resources on just about any topic which in turn leads to more and more plagiarism and theft of information. Many times students use others work as a fast way to complete assignments. Plagiarism is against the law and in many cases can be punishable by law, therefore, most colleges have strict rules in place to prevent it.

What plagiarism detection software is available to online instructors?

The internet has many different plagiarism detection tools available to online instructors. Some samples are:

  1. www.turnitin.com (Turnitin) – Compares student’s work against other student written papers and other online sources.
  2. www.grammarly.com (Grammarly) – Papers and documents can be copied and pasted into the site which checks for plagiarism, grammar and spelling mistakes.
  3. www.scanmyessay.com (Scanmyessay) – Free software that compares student written papers and offers a side by side comparison of the documents.

How can the design of my assessments help prevent academic dishonesty? 

Creating assessments that allow for student choice allows learners to develop a personalized and customized learning experience that requires innovative thinking (Boettcher & Conrad, 2010). When making assignments, it is important for the instructor to provide the students with clear guidelines to follow or a rubric so they will know what to expect. The assessments should always be aligned to the class goals and objectives. This helps to ensure that the students are not confused and overwhelmed and makes them less likely to copy and paste from the sources found.

What facilitation strategies do you propose to use as a current or future online instructor?

I have used Turnitin in both of the online colleges that I have attended and find it very useful and helpful. I would use a combination of the online detection tools to identify if the students work was original. Of course, it is important to let the students know at the beginning of the course that all work will be checked and also what the consequences will be if they are found plagiarizing. If students know that they are being checked, they will pay more attention to citing their sources and also to the originality of their work. Also when assigning activities, give the students ample time to complete the project and give them feedback. By allowing students to revise and edit their projects they will be more creative and original.

What additional considerations for teaching should be made to help detect or prevent cheating and plagiarism?

Strict guidelines and consequences for plagiarism should be outlined at the beginning of each course. The consequences should also be clearly stated so that the students know up front what can and will happen if they are caught using someone else’s work. When plagiarism is suspected, it is the instructor’s responsibility to contact the student and provide them with the specific details that were detected. Depending on the amount of material being plagiarized, the instructor then has the option to take further disciplinary action or have the student redo all or some of the assignment.

References:

Boettcher, J. V., & Conrad, R. (2010). The online teaching survival guide: Simple and practical pedagogical tips. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary (2012). Plagiarism. Retrieved from http://www.learnersdictionary.com/search/plagiarism

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Impact of Technology and Multimedia

  1. What impact does technology and multimedia have on online learning environments?

When I was in high school, typing class was a much needed elective, especially to those of us that wanted to attend college and later get a good paying job. As a requirement for my very first job with the State of Florida, I had to take and pass a typing class in order to even apply. Now, because of technology, kids are basically born knowing how to type and operate many forms of technology. That is because technology has become huge part of our everyday lives.

Many students today, also choose to further their education via online learning for a number of reasons. The number one reason would be flexibility to attend classes and still work and care for a family without having to leave to attend a traditional college. Students today can customize their learning to their own needs because of the many advances in technology. Because online learning requires many different software programs, technology has a huge impact on the online learning environment. The technology and software that is available can create social relationships between learners and stifle the creation of a learning community in a classroom (Conrad & Donaldson, 2004).

  1. What are the most important considerations an online instructor should make before implementing technology? 

Meeting the needs of the learners is probably the most important consideration an online instructor should make before implementing technology. In order to do this, instructors need to know the skill levels of their students. Students in online classes have a variety of technology skills, experience and software knowledge. Meeting the needs of learners means to establish a learning community that supports learners with confidence to work together and provide a clear direction that enables learners to take charge of their own learning (Boettcher & Conrad, 2010).

Students should have a variety of ways to show their learning and submit their assignments. What program might work for one, might not work for another. If a student becomes easily frustrated with their online work, they are more apt to drop out.

  1. What implications do usability and accessibility of technology tools have for online learning?

There can be many drawbacks in an online environment and the instructors need to be aware of them to enhance student learning. Technology can fail at any time and alternative options should be communicated in case it does. There are also many different tools and options, both software and hardware that help make learning possible for everyone. Instructors should also take into consideration those learners that are trying to balance full time jobs, family and also online learning and be flexible when possible.

  1. What technology tools are most appealing to you for online teaching as you move forward in your career in instructional design? 

The technology tools that are most appealing to me are email, chat tools and the various video conferencing software. I also like the Google Docs tools and the discussion boards and blogs that are involved in the online learning environment. Communication and collaboration are the most important aspects of online learning. By using discussion boards, wikis and blogs, students are able to learn from each other and work together on various assignments.

References

Boettcher, J. V., & Conrad, R. (2010).  The online teaching survival guide: Simple and practical pedagogical tips. San Francisco, CA

Conrad, R., & Donaldson, J. A. (2004). Engaged learning in the online environment. In Engaging the online learner: Activities and resources for creative instruction. San Francisco, CA: John Wiley amp; Sons, Inc.

Setting Up An Online Learning Experience

What is the significance of knowing the technology available to you?

“The primary tool that you will need to become familiar with is the course management system (CMS) that your institution uses” (Boettcher & Conrad, 2010, p. 57). As an instructor, understanding the course management system is a must because it is used to provide structure in the online learning environment.

Online learners range in ages and also in their experience with technology, therefore the instructor needs to have a good idea of the different web applications and software that will support their learning.

Why is it essential to communicate clear expectations to learners?

Students in online learning environments must be self-motivated and self-directed. Unlike in the traditional classroom setting where the instructors are able to clearly communicate and support all of the students, online learners must be able to comprehend and complete assignments and post discussions without being reminded. Rubrics should be clearly established and posted so that each student understands how and when to post to assignments and also how the assignments will be graded.

What additional considerations should the instructor take into account when setting up an online learning experience?

Boettcher & Conrad discuss the importance of establishing an online presence of the instructor as well as building an effective learning community (2010). Although online learners are self-motivated and self-directed, they also need the support of the instructor, especially in the first few weeks of the course. Instructors should be there to guide the discussions and to take the discussions to a deeper level. Students that don’t feel the presence of the instructor and don’t feel supported, could potentially drop out.

References

Boettcher, J. V., & Conrad, R. (2010).  The online teaching survival guide: Simple and practical pedagogical tips.  San Francisco, CAJossey-Bass.

Online Learning Communities

  • How do online learning communities significantly impact both student learning and satisfaction within online courses?

An online learning community can be closely compared to a learning community in a traditional brick and mortar school environment or even to a workplace learning environment. In all three instances, everyone involved – students and teachers, come together to work towards a single goal which is to develop greater knowledge and understanding. “A learning community in a face-to-face environment often develops spontaneously as students have more opportunities to get to know one another and develop friendships outside of a particular course” (Boettcher & Conrad, 2010, p. 38). It is more challenging to build an online learning community in a distance learning environment. In all three environments, students learn by exploring content together and interacting with each other to develop their own understanding of the content and its objectives and how it can be applied in real world situations. Online environments make this harder often times because there is no face to face interaction.

  • What are the essential elements of online community building?

The five elements of online community building are: people, purpose, process, interaction and presence. Students create knowledge by doing – not listening to lecture after lecture and memorizing just enough to pass a test. Mastery comes from students reflecting back on what they have learned and putting it into practice. “The online learning community is part of what makes learning happen for many students” (Boettcher & Conrad, 2010, p. 40).

  • How can online learning communities be sustained?

Online learning communities can only be sustained if there is participant engagement and responsibility taking place in the community. Blogs, discussion questions, and reading assignments are all areas where learners can communicate about work and learning. Guidelines should be in place to give learners instructions/timelines on how and when to communicate. It is the facilitator’s responsibility to interact with the students and guide the discussion.

  • What is the relationship between community building and effective online instruction?

The atmosphere in an online instruction environment should be as close to a community building as possible meaning that it should be welcoming to the students and if at all possible personalized to the needs of the students involved. For many older students, the online setting can come across as being confusing and difficult to manage, therefore it is important that the instructor be available to answer questions and guide them for the first few weeks so they don’t become frustrated and give up. It is a good idea to set up a section just for questions that other participants as well as the teacher can respond to in a reasonable time period. Being online, not everyone is going to be accessing the information at the same time and the student may just need a quick response that another student can give. Overall, in an online learning environment, the instructor/facilitator is responsible for establishing the appropriate climate.

Engaging learners and keeping them engaged is the key and it is something that does not happen on its own. “Planning and utilizing activities that assist a learner in moving through the developmental stages of engaged learning ensures that learners are involved, motivated, and able to interact and collaborate with one another” (Conrad & Donaldson, 2011, p. 14).

References:

Boettcher, J. V., & Conrad, R. (2010). The online teaching survival guide: Simple and practical pedagogical tips. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Conrad, R., & Donaldson, J. A. (2011). Engaging the online learner: Activities and resources for creative instruction (Updated Ed.). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

EIDT 6510-2 – Welcome

Welcome to my blog.  I will be using this blog for my Walden Course – Online Instructional Strategies for the next 8 weeks.  I am excited to start this course and even more excited to be one step closer to the completion of my Masters program.