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 @ 5:22am

    Re: Re: For profit

    You may want to view that graphic a bit closer...

    The report in excerpt form is viewable - this in and of itself is not as much of an issue, but it does not stop there. You can receive the entire paper, verbatim, by simply clicking the link in the "found" document and making the request. This is also part of their service - you can "view" the "original" paper in it's entirety by merely requesting it - not from the original AUTHOR but the professor! The work does not belong to the professor, nor does it really belong to the school - even with a paper signing away your rights - providing the school has required the signature to get the education - sort of like coercion in the good ole' days of law enforcement. (Sign this confession or you will go to prison for LIFE!) Though that comparison is a bit extreme - I hope it shocks you enough to cause you to open your eyes and look at the bigger picture ...

    You tell students that it's not ok to steal someone else's work and profit from it in some way (getting a grade to pass a class or getting paid money to put bread on your dinner table), but it's ok for the institution or its affilliates to do just that to ensure that you are being honest. Kind of like - the ends justify the means - don't you think??

    Also, change the setting slightly, since the institutions want to be the "academic police", can a police officer break the law to solve the crime? NOT! So if you hold other public figures in a higher moral standing, what makes the schools think they are any different? You wouldn't acquiesce to the government putting a speed tracker on your car because the majority of people who drive violate speeding laws - now would you??

    Get a grip on reality and use a bit of good common sense. Give an inch and expect to lose a mile - or more!

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