Rather than fund a whole army of ‘Plagiarism Consultants’ and associated conferences why not re-engineer towards authentic forms of assessment – deal with the root of the problem rather than tinker with the flawed approach of the essay!
Universities review plagiarism policies to catch Facebook cheats:
Universities are reviewing their plagiarism policies to clamp down on students who use Facebook to cheat.
Plagiarism experts have warned universities and colleges to be aware of students copying from each other when discussing coursework on social networking sites.
Gill Rowell, from the consultancy Plagiarism Advice, said universities needed to rework their plagiarism policies with “internet working in mind” but insisted institutions were taking cheating seriously enough.
The warning comes after almost one in two Cambridge University students in a poll of 1,000 admitted to cheating in their studies.
Student newspaper, Varsity, found 49% of undergraduates who anonymously took part in their poll confessed to passing off other people’s work as their own.
One anonymous student said: “Sometimes, when I am really fed up, I Google the essay title, copy and throw everything on to a blank word document and jiggle the order a bit. They usually end up being the best essays.”
Just 5% of the students admitted they had been caught.
“It is a depressing set of statistics,” Robert Foley, a professor in Biological Anthropology at King’s College, Cambridge, said.
University plagiarism experts will discuss cheating with Universities UK, the umbrella group for vice-chancellors, on November 19.”
Should e-learning policies be written to empower staff and students to abandon institutional provision?
Two weeks into the semester proper the 7 student researchers recruited for the first cohort are all engaging with the first module.
Forced to work outside of the UoB learning platforms (administrative issues), we have concentrated our communications around our WordPress.com site and Google Docs for formal support (negotiation of learning contracts), with the more informal aspects catered for by blog aggregation through YahooPipes, synchronous text chats & oral communication through skype, and some exploration of twitter and a beta beta IEC Statusometer (developed by Sam) – there are probably also things happening that I don’t know about.
Next week we will finally start our Hotseat with Oleg Liber and that will also use wordpress.com.
Thus far there is no compelling reason to use institutional technology at all. A little more thought on my part on setting-up of the wordpress blogs would, however, have enhanced the experience for student researchers. For example, choosing at the point of making posts visible to allow comments or not as we currently have too many places where these can be left – turning this function off retrospectively hides comments already made.
Another issue is that of privacy as the model of learning we have developed requires the discussion of work issues that it may not be suitable to be aired publicly, but again with a little more thought up-front this could easily be catered for.
Chapter 2, Understanding the Curriculum in Engaging the Curriculum in Higher Education (2005, Barnett and Coate) is a useful starting point for considering curriculum design in HE.
This is complex area, and the slide below summarises seven notions of what might influence the development of curricula. Arguably an eigth dimension could now be added in the light of the Leitch Review (2006) and Foundation Degrees, namely that of ‘Employer Defined Curriculum’ whereby the government seeks to coerce employers into funding HE with the inducement of having a large say in the design of programmes.
Running through these notions Barnett & Coate identify three ideas that are essential in trying to understand contemporary curricula:
- the influence of the social context in the shaping of curricula
- hidden curricula processes
- the power of knowledge fields/discipline groups
A bit of a déjà vu feeling with this one. It is a racing certainty that institutions like mine will have to increasingly meet the needs of students who are not the ‘traditional’ 18 year undergraduate. They will want to study increasing amounts of CPD (short courses), will study entirely online and won’t wish to come to the institution at all, and will want to student when they need to or find the opportunity to do so – this may mean deciding they want to enrol one week and starting the next.
Institutional systems and practices cannot adequately cope with these demands (despite the good will of those trying to deliver) and will have to change. The experience of the new Masters course will inform the identification of what needs to change, but making those changes will require a systemic intervention – far more difficult to achieve.
I started this Pattern Language project last February with Ian Tindal and Richard Millwood and have been making intermittent progress since then. It is based upon the Ultraversity project and aims to capture the key elements of the approach developed for a degree programme based on action research methodology supported entirely through online communities of inquiry.
An enthusiast when I started, I am now more circumspect about the approach has anything fundamental to offer other than as a presentation framework.