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
    Nathan, 25 Sep 2006 @ 9:13am

    My experience

    I haven't ever plagarized, but I have been accused of it. They believed the paper was above the level that someone could write for that age group. It's almost impossible to prove you didn't plagarize. This product won't help that group. It will only catch those that plagarize blatantly. Nor will it catch those that just pay to have others write their papers for them.

    However, Turnitin is building their company on top of the work of people who are not being compensated for their production. Without the papers of the students, Turnitin would have no service to offer. Why are the students not compensated for their efforts? Their papers are the key to Turnitin's company. Without them, Turnitin goes out of business.

    I'm sure that the schools signed away the IP rights of the students for them, but ethically it seems like students are given the short end of the stick. It doesn't help that everyone is held to the guilty until proven innocent standard now.

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