Plagiarism in an online learning environment is a challenge that many learning institutions are confronted with today. With the availability of unlimited online resources on the Web, students have many channels to use to help them complete their project assignments and research papers. There are several websites that proffer complete manuscripts on a wide variety of topics (over 100 such sites at last count according to TechTrends magazine) that make obtaining entire assignment papers as easy as copying and pasting for students (Chao, Wilhelm, & Neureuther 2009). There is many plagiarism software available today for online instructors to help deter plagiarism. The eLearning Industry provided a list of the top 10 free plagiarism detection tools (see table below). The website provides greater detail on the pros and cons of these free plagiarism detection tools (Pappas, Christopher 2013). Based upon the information found in the eLearning Industry site there are several options to support help the online instructor with tools that are easy to use to deter plagiarism.
Designing an assessment can prevent academic dishonesty by creating assignments that are unique and may require research that is off the beaten path. This will initiate a higher order of thinking for the students and create a greater level of exploration into the subject matter (Brown, Jordan, Rubin, & Arome, 2010). In addition creating collaboration assignments using wikis, blogs, discussion threads, emails, and chats which provide a variety of writing samples and a sense of each student’s writing style can also reduce plagiarism (Brown, Jordan, Rubin, & Arome, 2010).
As a future online instructor, the primary strategies I would implement to deter plagiarism is education about plagiarism and how to properly cite resources. Studies have shown that students’ do not know what constitutes plagiarism and that student can benefit from instructions and feedback to avoid plagiarism (Chao, Wilhelm, & Neureuther 2009). I would have the students review the learning institutions Code of Student Conduct and give a quiz on it to emphasize the importance of the information and their responsibility to show integrity. I believe that this information could be invaluable and also provide the students with knowledge that they may be unaware of. Another important factor is to teach the students values, how to handle pressure, and the customs of authors as part of their course of studies so they understand why it is important to use their own words (Brown, Jordan, Rubin, & Arome, 2010). The Online Learning Curves states that “For one, schools absolutely must publicize clear anti-plagiarism policies in the documentation of their general academic standards and disseminate these policies to online students at the beginning of each course. In addition, online instructors must incorporate such academic policies into each online course. To reiterate the importance of this, schools can add electronic consent forms that require students to agree to not plagiarize any resources that they use for their courses” (McHugh, 2010).
I believe that providing training and instruction to the online instructors on the benefits of using plagiarism detection tools, and how to effectively use them can potentially make them more apt in using the tools. As I stated above I also believe that educating the students about plagiarism and also providing the APA guidelines will also reduce plagiarism in online learning institutions.
Brown, V., Jordan, R., Rubin, N., & Arome, G. (2010). Strengths and weaknesses of plagiarism detection software. Journal of Literacy and Technology, 11(1/2), 110-131.
Chao, C., Wilhelm, W., & Neureuther, B. (2009). A study of electronic detection and pedagogical approaches for reducing plagiarism. Delta Pi Epsilon Journal, 51(1), 31-42.
McHugh, Nathan (2010). Academic Plagiarism. The Online Learning Curve. Retrieved from http://www.learninghouse.com/blog/consulting/academic-plagiarism
Pappas, Christopher (2013). Top 10 Free Plagiarism Detection Tools. eLearning Industry. Retrieved from https://elearningindustry.com/top-10-free-plagiarism-detection-tools-for-teachers