Are we forgoing moral standards when adopting emergency remote teaching? In many cases, the massive ad-hoc move to fully digital platforms has been undertaken without proper support systems for plagiarism detection risks. Without enough guidance for students in academic honesty, do we risk undermining the trust in online and distance learning as a whole?
We have seen a rapid move to fully online teaching, learning and assessment from universities, schools and the VET sector in response to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. While the goals of this move are laudable - to keep education happening while teachers and students can stay safe - this fast-tracked landscape is not comparable to in-classroom learning or even normal online learning with appropriate planning and governance. It is great to see that so many have done what they can to manage teaching in innovative ways, but it is still a stark contrast to what happens in a classroom or a well-prepared online course. It is also worth remembering that neither students nor teachers ever signed up for a distance learning experience - instead we were all forced into one.
We genuinely believe many valuable lessons are being learned, by both students and educators alike, and that we will see an influx of innovation in education and online education as long-term outcomes. Right now, however, many students are struggling to find the motivation and engagement to make the most of their new and different remote learning experience. Feelings of detachment from mentors and peers have been linked to an increase in students' inclination to take shortcuts (BEAS2009 - Social norms and academic dishonesty). Faced with the increased likelihood of demotivated students during social distancing, instructors can reduce cheating by communicating what constitutes it and having a discussion about it as part of the learning environment.
“There are no perfect solutions for online examinations right now,” says Michael Fraser, COO of strategic educational technology company and Urkund-partner, Androgogic. “Students are understandably uncomfortable with automated biometric-based proctoring as well as remote invigilation sessions and the destination of those video feeds. We feel that good options for organisations who have recently transitioned to fully online delivery and assessment are in maximising the use of written short answer and essay-type questions in online exams, and where possible increasing the relative weighting of coursework compared to the exam component.”
Increasing the importance of coursework assessment to students’ grades, however, makes it more important that you have a world-class anti-plagiarism solution in place to both educate students as well as to detect legitimacy issues. When being required to submit a greater number of digital assignments with higher weightings, one shortcut students can take is to skip citing sources prudently. Another is plain handing in someone else’s work as their own. The easiest and most effective way to safeguard against such practices is to implement text-matching software as part of your assignment workflow. Urkund not only delivers best-in-class accuracy but seamlessly integrates within your current learning management system's assignment feature. The easy-to-read similarity matching reports that the software produces are also used by many customers as a basis for discussions about academic integrity with students.
Being forced to transform how you teach is not something that can be done overnight, and it is unrealistic to expect an immediate well-considered online learning experience. Adding plagiarism checking however, can serve as a learning opportunity for students about honesty and ethics. The benefits will be in reducing the inclination to cheat, ensuring your students are acquiring knowledge and fostering positive moral development.
“Our vision is that people deep down understand that the world is pushed forward by original thinking,” says Andreas Ohlson, group CEO of Urkund. “Striving to support originality is something that will be even more important now than ever before, which is why I am happy to see our system being used on a scale never seen before with exponential growth over the last couple of months.”
Androgogic is a leading provider of Educational Technology infrastructure and services such as the Totara Learning Management System (LMS). Androgogic has the expertise, team and technology to help you achieve your learning and business objectives. They work with clients to design and implement flexible, robust and reliable Learning Management Systems and other Educational Technology applications such as Learning Record Stores, Social Learning systems, ePortfolio systems and Learning Content Management Systems. Androgogic’s cost-effective Educational Technologies and services are backed by industry-leading expertise and dedicated, 7 days a week support. Androgogic are Platinum Totara Partners and have recently won the Totara Top Seller APAC Award 5 years in a row (2015-2019). Visit www.androgogic.com to learn more.
Urkund supports academic institutions, secondary schools, and corporations in their institutional effectiveness and quality initiatives by delivering a fully automated system for checking text originality and preventing plagiarism. The software is fully integrated into all major learning management systems and uses advanced machine learning to deliver test-winning accuracy. With 20 years at the forefront of promoting academic integrity, Urkund now serves over 5,000 institutions in nearly 80 countries worldwide. Urkund is privately owned and headquartered in Stockholm, Sweden.