Plagiarism Detection and Prevention


One argument against online courses is that it is easy to cheat. My experience is not that online students cheat more than students on campus. To detect cheating is not easy; if a student really wants to cheat they will find a way. Plagiarism is, however, something that is easier to detect. Plagiarism is a sort of cheating since it is about using someone else’s text as if it is my own, but to considering a cheating it has to be done intentionally.

I do agree with Jocoy and DiBiase (2006) and other researchers that found that plagiarism is more about lack of knowledge and understanding than being done intentionally. Today we have the Internet with so much information in different ways, and it is so easy to download films and music, read books, play games and find any information of whatever topic that interests you. Understanding that just because it is available does not mean it is free to use in whatever way you want is something that students need to learn in early age.

For me as an instructor I need to do different activities to teach the students about what plagiarism is since that will decrease plagiarism. Jocoy and DiBiase (2006) mention a research that showed “that students who received no explicit plagiarism instruction plagiarized twice as often as those who participated in active instructional activities such as class discussions of definitions of plagiarism, review of plagiarism reports, and exercises requiring students to identify instances of plagiarism in example essays.” is one example of an online tool that can be used to detect plagiarism. A simple search on the Internet for a tool shows that there are several out there, even though the simplest way is to use Google. Copy the sentence that you suspect is not the student’s own, and use Google to do a search on the Internet. However, often the Universities has license with at provider for a specific tool, and if that is that case, that is the tool we should use.

Another interesting way of teaching students about plagiarism is to have students do several parts of an assignment and the first parts where there is plagiarism detected they get the opportunity to revise and resubmit their work (Jocoy and DiBiase, 2006). That is also something I like to try out in a course, but I do agree with Dr. Palloff and Pratt (Laureate Education, 2010), when they talk about that we should create assignment that is authentic and incorporate collaboration that will discourage cheating.


Jocoy, C., & DiBiase, D. (2006). Plagiarism by adult learners online: A case study in detection and remediation. International Review of Research in Open & Distance Learning, 7(1), 1-15.
Laureate Education (Producer). (2010). Launching the online learning experience [Video file]. Retrieved from



Impact of Technology and Multimedia



Young people, today, are what we call digital native; they are used to have computer and Internet, and they are using cell phones and social media for communication (Prensky, 2001). Because of that it is not easy to be an instructor teaching in an online course. The students of today expect us to have different technology and multimedia in our courses, and it is a temptation to add a lot of forum, wikis, blogs, video, audio and other Web 2.0-tools. The most important thing for you as an instructor is to decide why you are using technological tools and multimedia in you course. We always have to think of the objectives of the course and consider if the tool helps students get the knowledge of the content and reach the objectives. If the answer is yes then use that tool, but if the answer is no, then put that tool aside.

Focus on the essential tools, especially if it is the first online course you teach, and then for each time it runs you can add more technology. Use tools that you feel comfortable with and that will help you.

We might look at tools as something that is only for students to use, but technological tools could also be tools that can help you as an instructor in the administration work. Tools that we use in an online course should be used to help communication, to create a presence in the online environment (teacher, social and cognitive presence), but also to add tools to student collaboration. Different tools can also help students with the learning of knowledge since it could help them use different learning style.

Another thing we have to consider when using adding a tool to an online course is if the students are able to use it. Who are the students in your online course? It might be middle age to older students, with a lot of work and life experience, but not so much of technology experience. If that is the case, you should use tools that they are used to or tools that are easy to learn to use. You can always let students have the choice to use tools from a toolbox, and they can then use tools they feel comfortable with.

One important thing when it comes to an online course is that it has to be accessible to everyone, no matter if they have a disability or not. In article 9 in United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities can we read about access to information and communication using technology and Internet. Countries that agreed on this convention have then made laws to make sure this will happen. USA is one nation and Sweden another where those laws exists. That means that if you use multimedia of some kind you have to make sure that anyone that cannot see or hear still can use the multimedia and understand the information given.

The last question I had to answer was about what technology tools are most appealing to me to use in online teaching.  I have used and are using almost everything (not games though). I have used and am using video and audio a lot in different courses, and I think that is a good way of teaching online. I use quizzes, forum, Skype, and E-meeting rooms as Adobe Connect. My problem is not the tools itself, but to use them, in a way, that will help students in their study and reaching the objectives. That is the area I need to work on to get better.



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

Prensky, M. (2001). Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants. On The Horizon. 9(5). Retrived from,%20Digital%20Immigrants%20-%20Part1.pdf

United Nations Enable (n.d). Article 9 – Accessibility. Retrieved from