Monday, October 23, 2017

How to Prevent Plagiarism in Online Learning: Unicheck and Google Classroom

This blog post is sponsored by Unicheck.

The reputation and credibility of the educational institution directly depend on academic conduct policies and measures taken to prevent plagiarism. It is equally relevant for online and offline academic institutions.

The problem is plagiarism has never ceased to exist. According to the University of Adelaide survey, 90% of students said they were aware of plagiarism policies and possible cheating consequences. Surprisingly, two thirds of students claimed to be unsure about referencing and quoting issues and didn’t know plagiarism checkers were used at all.

These astonishing figures are rather discouraging. If it is so common for brick-and-mortar institutions, so how about online learning then?

Let’s dig deeper and see how the issue is tackled there.

Preventing plagiarism in online learning

In online education, writing assignments are required quite frequently. They shouldn’t be plagiarized or recycled. The value of each assignment is defined by its originality rate and ideas outlined.

So far the most widespread methods to help students avoid plagiarism are prevention and detection.

Briefly, prevention comprises explaining what sources to use, how to write originally, and what plagiarism consequences might be. Detection is usually done by means of plagiarism checkers.

Used widely for online and offline learning, LMSs like Canvas, Schoology, and Moodle have long had these tools accessible for educators and students. Integrated as apps or plugins, plagiarism checkers help detect matching content by comparing papers with online sources or academic databases.

Running plagiarism checks in Google Classroom

Google Classroom has recently joined the list of online learning platforms having plagiarism detection apps. Its integration with Unicheck makes paper checking process run automatically.

Having Google Classroom and Unicheck accounts are enough for integrating the checker. It’s possible to configure its settings anytime (either for a particular course or all courses at once).

Teachers get reports sent to their email accounts. These reports brief teachers about each checked student submission showing percentage of matches detected, submission dates, student names and emails. What is more, teachers can choose what way they want to receive reports: as soon as papers are submitted, or on the due date of the assignment when all papers have been submitted.

By clicking the View report button, a teacher is taken to the full report page. Here, the teacher will be able to see all potential plagiarism highlighted in the text, as well as correctly formatted citations and references. Each sentence with found similarity is provided with a link to the source it might have been copied from. Teachers can exclude sources that they feel should not be included in the report and can change search settings to skip sources that have insignificant matches.

Unicheck identifies suspicious character substitutions and supports almost all text file formats, including .doc, .docx, .rtf, .odt, .html, .pdf, .ppt, .pptx. As the checker is specially tailored for education, it identifies references and citations in MLA, APA, Turabian and other academic writing styles. Recognized citations contribute to the lower similarity score. Teachers can manually exclude citations at their judgement and include them in search results, thus influencing similarity score.

Extra bonuses for smarter working

Shareability. With Unicheck at hand no minute is wasted; each report can be shared right from teachers’ Gmail accounts. This may be done either by sharing a link to the report or forwarding Unicheck’s email.

Advanced search. By default, all papers are checked against internal Library and Internet. Unicheck compares each paper with the internet and open access databases in real time. Thus, no outdated sources get into the report. All submissions and files previously uploaded in the Library will automatically be checked against the new submissions.

Better customization. Customization settings allow tuning up each search for matches and selecting courses to be checked with Unicheck. Besides, no old submissions will be checked. Unicheck will start checking new student submissions from the day it is integrated into your Google Classroom, leaving all previous submissions unchecked.

In conclusion

Simple, yet very efficient Google Classroom is getting even more powerful with Unicheck integration. From now on, teachers can keep track student writing without checking each work for plagiarism manually. It is also good news for students, as they can use Unicheck on their own to check their papers before teachers see them.

Unicheck is likely to make teacher-student workflow way easier and effective. Hopefully, more useful apps will be part of Google Classroom soon.