plagiarism

The business of ed-tech: Plagiarism as education


Teaching academic integrity is one consequence often overlooked in the concept of plagiarism

plagiarismPlagiarism detection technology is good for more than just a “gotch ya” moment for professors. Reinforcing academic integrity can also be a valuable, punishment-free lesson for students.

That’s the idea behind SafeAssign, an online resource that not only scours student papers for instances of plagiarism, but also offers preventative advice on how to avoid the red flags that catch educators’ attention as they review research projects and homework assignments.

SafeAssign is available to colleges and universities that use the Blackboard learning management system (LMS). Blackboard purchased the technology in 2006.

Faculty members can have students run their assignment through the SafeAssign system and read through the subsequent report charting how much their assignment might match others stored in the SafeAssign database. The “originality report” shows how a paper might match others stored in the institutional database, the internet at large, and about 2.6 million academic articles dating back to 1990.

And scanning a paper has become a far less arduous process in recent years. SafeAssign today take about a minute to review an assignment. The system took an hour to complete the same task not long ago.

(Next page: How anti-plagiarism systems are a great resource)

Val Schreiner, vice president of product management for Blackboard, said the LMS’s anti-plagiarism system could be a vital resource for the increasing number of freshmen who enter college needing remedial writing courses.

“There’s a huge adoption curve for them,” she said. “Knowing what they’re doing right and what they’re doing wrong is very important.”

As reliable as it is, SafeAssign was not meant to substitute for a professor tasked with reviewing assignments for instances of plagiarism and helping students better understand how they may have violated campus academic integrity rules.

“It was never meant to replace a human’s judgment. No one should assume SafeAssign replaces the investigatory aspects of plagiarism,” said Trey Buck, Blackboard’s SafeAssign product expert. “It’s an instructional tool in a teacher’s toolbox, and it can be a learning opportunity for students who use it properly.”

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