Note to students: what follows is a sample blog entry I wrote as if I was assigned the same prompt you have been assigned. I attempted to answer the same questions asked of you and respond in a way you have been asked to respond. 390 words by the way. Imagine that!
As I thought about a topic to investigate, many ideas crossed my mind. I'm interested in the emerging web 2.0 technology that allows such rich interaction and collaboration via the internet. As I was skimming through some blog posts about using new technology, I found a blog called Students 2.0, which is run by student bloggers, for other students. Sounded kind of interesting. There was this posting on it called Plagiarism: Not Quite As Simple As It Seems by a student from New York. In her posting, she discusses the different challenges that both students and teachers encounter in terms of plagiarism. What struck me is that some of the questions she raised about plagiarism and how to define it are just as difficult for students as they are for teachers. And in many cases, the definition is just plain murky.
The student writes about how she finds herself "staring at the computer screen, unsure on whether I can copy my AP Environmental Science textbook’s definition of biodiversity or if I needed to paraphrase. Do I even know how to paraphrase that term when the textbook’s definition seems to leave no room for a more direct explanation? Teachers always tell students to reword things they write, but what if the student can’t think of another way to reword what they want to say? In this incidence, sheer laziness isn’t the factor behind it."
She goes on to say that copying word for word is inexcusable - as all students should know - and that both teachers and students should know that "technology works both ways." Teachers can use online plagiarism software or even just Google as easy as kids can cut and paste from the internet. I know I have regularly used Turnitin.com to detect plagiarism. With so much information available, what exactly is the best way to deal with it?
Anyway, her ideas got me thinking about the topic, and I think I'd like to write my paper on plagiarism. How has the internet altered the way plagiarism is detected? What are current plagiarism policies at colleges and what other issues have arisen with the new technology? I thought I had heard about a student suing a school over using Turnitin.com, so maybe there are some court cases or other information I could pursue.