Academic integrity can now digitally enhanced

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    THE Internet provided students with an immense, almost infinite number of sources of information.

    Search engines have made visits to the library almost obsolete and information is accessed without the need for a card catalog.

    But online sources have also spawned a new kind of problem in the academic community—plagiarism, contract cheating, online-sourced essays and thesis factories—are all direct results of the ease of getting information online combined with the copy-paste command.

    According to Turnitin.com, the incidences for massive cheating or simple copying of sources without attribution stems not only from the ease of getting information, which may have produced different attitudes towards research work.

    Turnitin.com is a technology company that is committed to ensure integrity in the academe, specifically for global education and research. In the intimate media session, Jack Brazel head of business partnerships for Southeast Asia, explained that though their business mission is assisted by digital technologies, their ultimate mission is to create what he calls “citizens of integrity.”

    He said that students of integrity—more than just those who do not simply copy and paste—are those who are able to understand what they read, absorb it and develop it to spawn other, possibly better ideas that are their own. This is aligned with what most educators think about student’s submissions or coursework—that original and well-written essay or thesis that reflects subject knowledge and understanding.

    More than just students, Turnitin want to focus its efforts on instructors and educator and enhance their skills in ensuring credibility, accountability, responsibility of their students. Using the platform, which is compatible with many learning management systems, academicians are ensured they can systematically develop these “citizens of integrity” with the least amount of effort.

    “We want to actually empower Filipino instructors to actually create more learning opportunities. And we really believe that our technology ensures academic integrity. And if we give student skills for original thinking, we are actually going to contribute to society.

    Turnitin.com has over 15,000 customers (naturally mostly universities and schools) worldwide and has served over 34,000,000 students in 140 countries. The company came into existence almost at the same time as the Internet.

    Founder John Barrie, a biophysics graduate of Berkeley University developed the technology, foreseeing how the Internet, as an information carrier, keeper and portal will create many new problems—some of them not even digital but ethical.

    “Barrie was not interested in plagiarism prevention or detecting cheating. He was interested in using the power of the web to get students engaged with each other, the core concepts in a course and their instructor. This was back in 1994—long before the web’s widespread use in education or the use of “social networking” as we know it today,” Chris Caren, President and CEO of Turnitin said in an interview by Ed Tech Digest. (https://edtechdigest.blog)

    “He (John Barrie) saw the Internet as posing a challenge, and that he had to do something about it,” Brazel said.

    Three key points that Turnitin can do for the academe is to improve and ensure teaching integrity, quickly deploy a fair evaluation of the work of students and provide personalized feedback.

    “In light of the recent COVID environment, this is going to be more important and also more challenging for all institutions, because everyone will be forced to go online,”

    As educators around the world are preparing to teach in new learning environments—mostly outside their preferred classroom environments to adhere to social distancing requirements, or be it a hybrid system or fully online, the changes and unknowns associated with preparing a classroom during this challenging time also requires educators to focus on the emotional, social and even mental needs of their students.

    A digital platform like Turnitin.com with its many automated tasks can make life much easier for students and educators alike.

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