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
    University Student, 30 Mar 2007 @ 5:09am

    Re: Re: hard work and honesty seem like anachronis

    "The Google comparison is VERY approriate. WHY this is an issue is simply because students don't want to get caught. Oh, heavens... what a SHOCKER!

    Oh My!! With Google, you get something in return for your "allowing" your content to be cached, searched, and ("retrieved"??). Your argument is totally baseless.... With Google, the content author receives a return - their website is indexed and a person searches for a subject and Voila!! You now have a new website visitor to your site because someone could FIND YOU!! Additionally Google does not sell the search services of the content, only advertising to be displayed with the content. Of course if Turnitin is allowed to continue in this fallopy, then Google should be able to start charging you to use their search engine to access the cached subject material - how would that work for you?

    As far as libraries cataloging books... Well Google and many other enterprises do the same thing as well, in an effort to SELL THE BOOK so that the AUTHOR GETS MONEY - AS IN ROYALTIES!! As for the library specifically, well it is research and though you can "check out" material for FREE, you are still NOT BEING CHARGED for that material - only if you fail to return it. There is also a digital license agreement that most libraries enter into with the authors or publishers (who usually hold the copyright - sometimes in conjunction with the author) in order to legally distribute this material electronically. And that intent is to encourage someone to actually purchase the book if they find it useful, if not, the author and publisher get the recognition afforded by the temporary electronic distribution in hopes that other works by said author or publisher might be purchased by that consumer or their friends, co-workers or family!!

    So you see, there really is no comparison at all in your comment equating turnitin to a library, google or other authorized use - cleverboy.

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