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 Turnitin.com plagiarism reports, and exercises requiring students to identify instances of plagiarism in example essays.”

Turnitin.com 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.

Reference

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 https://class.waldenu.edu

 

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