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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.

Fun With Formative Assessments

Gauging your students' understanding of the topics you teach is a process that involves discussion, a bit of intuition, and some formative assessment activities. Next Monday afternoon I'm hosting a webinar to introduce you to some fun ways and fun tools to use to conduct formative assessment activities.

In this webinar you will learn how to use free tech tools to create and conduct fun, engaging, and informative formative assessments. Whether you teach elementary school, middle school, or high school, you will come away from this webinar with fun formative assessment activities that you can do the next day.

Fun Formative Assessments addresses the needs of teachers who don't have computers or tablets for every student. And teachers who do have laptops, Chromebooks, or tablets for every student will learn some new ways to have students use those too. Register here.

Five Things You Can Learn In This Webinar:

1. What makes a formative assessment valuable to you while also fun for students.

2. How to create fun formative assessments for classrooms that aren't 1:1.

3. Why you should leverage students' picture-taking habits for formative assessment.

4. Development of engaging formative assessment activities that use a variety of question formats.

5. How to include students in the creation of formative assessments.


The cost of this webinar is $20.

Can't make it to the live webinar? Don't worry because, as long as you register in advance, you can access the recording on-demand the next day.

A note about fees for webinars:
Whenever I advertise a Practical Ed Tech webinar I am asked why they aren't free. There are two reasons. One, hosting professional development events is one of the ways that I am able to keep the lights on at Free Technology for Teachers. Two, while all of the tools featured in my webinars are free to use, my time for teaching about them is not free.

National Mole Day

Mole Day was first celebrated in 1991 by a group of chemistry teachers who wanted to encourage students to see that chemistry is interesting and fun and possibly even consider a career in this field. Mole Day is celebrated from 6:02am to 6:02pm on October 23 to commemorate Avogadro's Number, a basic measuring unit in chemistry.

Here are some resources to help students celebrate Mole Day, which is part of National Chemistry Week.
Check out a couple of additional resources for Mole Day on this previous post.

Play Ball: Teaching Lessons Through Baseball


The World Series begins this week between the Houston Astros and LA Dodgers. This is an exciting time for all baseball fans and there are many different ways to tap into this enthusiasm in your classroom. Baseball can be used to teach different concepts in math and science as well as Language Arts and history. This collection of resources and lesson plans will help you find ways to incorporate America's favorite pastime.

Enjoy this oldie but goodie from Abbot and Costello.