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
    Will, 22 Sep 2006 @ 5:15pm

    secrecy breeds corruption

    It's a simply a process of transparency. The same kind of transparency that the students would undoubtedly lobby for in government. From a legal standpoint the problem would be solved by requiring that every student accept that any submitted paper become public domain.

    But regardless, this has nothing to do with the ethics or legality of the service and everything to do with spoiled students complaining about not being able to game the system. Many people I knew in college basically cheated their way through school and are working in well paying jobs today on the basis of their results. I've had discussions with college tutors that freely admit to writing student papers, as if it is a perfectly acceptable practice. Colleges are under pressure to pass high fee paying students regardless of their academic performance. The higher education system is wholly corrupt and needs greater transparency.

    Seriously, if colleges could prevent cheating most students would never graduate. It's sad that hard work and honesty seem like anachronistic concepts today.

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