The Growing Backlash Against Automated Cheating Detectors

from the but-for-a-good-reason dept

It's been nearly four years since we wrote about students and parents being upset that online services that check student homework for plagiarism were also uploading and storing a copy of every paper they checked. It got to the point, earlier this year, that at least one university banned the use of Turnitin, one of the most popular services in this field. It seems that the student rebellion against such tools is growing, as many more students are questioning the legality of such tools, and asking their schools to stop using them. They're not just upset about the uploads, but about the assumption of guilt. While there clearly is plenty of plagiarism to go around, that doesn't mean this is the right solution to it. It's often easy to just throw technology at a problem, but it's worth recognizing that doing so always raises unexpected issues -- and those issues may not be technological on their own, but legal and cultural issues. It seems like many of the schools who jumped on the Turnitin bandwagon didn't spend much time thinking about those additional consequences, and are now facing student anger because of it.

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  1. identicon
    Cleverboy, 23 Sep 2006 @ 2:27pm

    Re: For profit

    "It does not matter how you use it. If its for profit and I did not give provable consent then you are liable." - The Man

    There's this little wirey thing called "Fair Use". You might want to read up on it. So, this "it does not matter how you use it" is pretty incorrect. It certainly DOES matter, in fact many papers and articles have been written about what does and does not consitute fair use, and I think this case is nebulous. No one is reselling the works as such, the only service being performed is a service already performeable by a teacher, but for which there is simply no time to realistically do without tools like this.

    The simple fact that this SEARCH is a "report" and not an unqualified verbatim copy of the source material means that you're immediately running into measures of what % of the report is made up of the original work, and whether that original work and its author is directly impacted by the existence of this report.

    My answer: "Not at all." I smell a lot of excuses, but certainly room for improvement.

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