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
    Gus, 24 Sep 2006 @ 2:43am

    Re: Facts are Facts

    What of false positives?

    In high school I was once asked in front of the whole class by an English teacher if part of a paper which I wrote was my own work. It was indeed mine and I took a little offense to the question which she attempted to ameliorate by stating that it was very good work. If Turnitin is good enough to be of any value (if it can find plagiarism where some of the words have been changed) it will necessarily have false positives as well.

    And what of people who access my paper without any permission (see AOL story)?

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