Archive for August, 2013

Plagiarism Detection and Prevention

What plagiarism detection software is available to online instructors?

Plagiarism detection software comes in different shapes and sizes. Some are targeted to organizations such as faculty in academic institutions; others are targeted to individual users such as students and teachers. I conducted multiple search engine queries to find both free and subscription-based services which can be used by online instructors. The results below appear to be used most often.

  • Turnitin ( is targeted to faculty and administrators in academic institutions through site licenses. It was initially created by four University of California Berkeley graduate students. Turnitin services include “OrginalityCheck, GradeMark, and PeerMark” (Turnitin, 2013). There is a new version available for iPad users.
  • iThenticate ( offers professional plagiarism services for authenticating “faculty research, faculty-authored articles and textbooks, grant proposals, supplemental course materials, and dissertations and theses” (iThenticate, 2013). According to their web site, it was developed by Turnitin. Clients include Central Michigan University, Clemson University, University of Virginia, Texas Tech University, Purdue University, and University of Michigan (iThenticate, 2013).
  • EVE2: Essay Verification Engine ( is another version of plagiarism detection software, available via an individual license or organizational site license (EVE2, 2013).
  • Viper ( promotes itself as being a “free alternative” to Turnitin. Its product is only available for Microsoft Windows users (Viper, 2013) which may be considered a disadvantage for Mac and mobile device users. The site includes “free lesson plans on plagiarism and referencing” (Viper, 2013).
  • WriteCheck ( is a subscription-based service targeted to students which offers plagiarism detection, grammar checking, and writing tutors. It uses the same technology and scans the same databases as Turnitin (WriteCheck, 2013) so it could be used as a resource for teachers and online instructors not having access to other plagiarism detection software through their academic institutions.

How can the design of assessments help prevent academic dishonesty?

Assessing student progress in face-to-face classes has traditionally been done through the use of written assignments and exams. According to Palloff and Pratt, exams do not work well in the online environment and therefore should not be used (Laureate Education, n.d.). While written assignments continue to be used in both face-to-face and online courses as a means of assessing student progress, the availability of essays, written reports, and resources on the Internet from term paper mills and other sources have contributed to increasing incidents of plagiarism among high school and higher education students (Simonson, Smaldino, Albright, & Zvacek, 2012; Larkham & Manns, 2002, Trevino & Butterfield, 2001; as cited in Chao, Wilhelm, & Neureuther, 2009). One way plagiarism is being done is through the deliberate copying and pasting of the thoughts and ideas of other persons without proper citation (Jocoy & DiBiase, 2006).

To help prevent academic dishonesty, assessments should be redesigned using the following strategies:

  • Create assessments which are based on real-life experiences and expectations which cannot be easily duplicated by Internet sites intent on offering plagiarized materials for distribution and sale (Laureate Education, n.d.).
  • Utilize collaboration activities among groups of students for working on assignments and projects (Laureate Education, n.d.).
  • Involve students in assessment and reflection activities to add authenticity to assignments (Bassendowski & Salgado, 2005; as cited in Brown, Jordan, Rubin, & Arome, 2010).
  • Create assignments which encourage students to use critical thinking skills and application to their own lives (Bassendowski & Salgado, 2005, p. 4).
  • Add specific requirements to assignments which cannot be duplicated then change them every semester (Brown, Jordan, Rubin, & Arome, (2010).
  • Create course activities which utilize Internet tools such as blogs, wikis, chats, email, and online discussion boards for examples of each student’s writing style for plagiarism prevention (Baron & Cook, 2005; as cited in Brown et al., 2010, p. 117).
  • Provide learning resources for preventing plagiarism, hands-on practice with appropriate paraphrasing, and correct citation of resources (Chao et al., 2009

What facilitation strategies do you propose to use as a current or future online instructor?

As a future online instructor, it will be in my best interest to utilize facilitation strategies as recommended by Boettcher and Conrad (2010) so that the learner progresses through the four phases of engagement; i.e. “Newcomer, Cooperator, Collaborator, and Initiator or Partner” (Boettcher & Conrad, 2010, p. 97); while at the same time the instructor moves through the four roles of “Social Negotiator, Structural Engineer, Facilitator, and Community Member
or Challenger” (Boettcher & Conrad, 2010, p. 97). Facilitator strategies include the “creation of activities which require small group collaboration, problem solving, and reflecting on experiences through content discussions, role plays, debates, and jigsaws” (Boettcher & Conrad, 2010, p. 97). It is also important as the online instructor, to slowly reduce my presence as the course proceeds through each week so it becomes increasingly learner centered while at the same time becomes less instructor centered, primarily to promote the sense of community among the students enrolled in the course (Boettcher & Conrad, 2010).

What additional considerations for online teaching should be made to help detect or prevent cheating and plagiarism?

Plagiarism detection and prevention strategies must include the use of plagiarism detection software. Researchers in Brown et al. (2010) indicated the number of documents manually scanned for positive evidence of plagiarism was lower than the number of documents electronically scanned for positive evidence of plagiarism. In contrast, it is well known, software such as Turnitin produces false positives, reporting “frequently used content-related phrases as non-original and website content changing from the time of submission to the verification of plagiarism by the faculty member” (Brown et al., 2010, p. 119). These false positives can unfairly penalize a good student through no fault of their own. It is therefore the responsibility of the instructor to contact the student to investigate the situation and determine if there indeed is a true positive case of plagiarism.

What did you learn that would help you implement effective online instructional strategies in the future?

Through course readings, supplemental resources, and writing for this blog assignment, I learned the importance of being proactive when it comes to detecting and preventing plagiarism.


Bassendowski, S. L., & Salgado, A. J. (2005). Is plagiarism creating an opportunity for the development of new assessment strategies? International Journal of Nursing Education Scholarship, 2(1), 0-13. Retrieved from

Boettcher, J. V., & Conrad, R. (2010). The online teaching survival guide: Simple and practical pedagogical tips. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Brown, V., Jordan, R., Rubin, N., & Arome, G. (2010). Strengths and weaknesses of plagiarism detection software. Journal of Literacy and Technology, 11(1/2), 110-131. Retrieved from

Chao, C., Wilhelm, W., & Neureuther, B. (2009). A study of electronic detection and pedagogical approaches for reducing plagiarism. Delta Pi Epsilon Journal, 51(1), 31-42. Retrieved from

EVE2 (2013, August 8). What is EVE2? Retrieved from

iThenticate (2013, August 8). About ithenticate: plagiarism detection software. Retrieved from

Jocoy, C., & DiBiase, D. (2006). Plagiarism by adult learners online: A case study in detection and remediation. International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning, 7(1), 1-15. Retrieved from

Laureate Education Inc. (Producer). (n.d.). Plagiarism and cheating [Video]. With Dr. Rena Palloff and Dr. Keith Pratt.

Simonson, M., Smaldino, S., Albright, M., & Zvacek, S. (2012). Teaching and learning at a distance: Foundations of distance education (5th ed.). Boston, MA: Pearson Education.

Turnitin (2013, August 8). Turnitin features. Retrieved from

Viper (2013, August 8). Viper’s features. Retrieved from

WriteCheck (2013, August 8). Features: Why you’ll love writecheck. Retrieved from

Impact of Technology and Multimedia

What impact does technology and multimedia have on online learning environments?

Learning environments, including face-to-face, blended, and online, are undergoing metamorphoses, driven by the changing demographics, experiences, and technology skills of its learners; the rapid rise of new technologies and new environments; and demands from learners of all ages, including those from the digital generation who prefer active learning instead of passive learning (Boettcher & Conrad, 2010). The ever changing face of technology provides instructors and learners with an eclectic assortment of tools for facilitating learning across the constructionist continuum, forever impacting the ways in which students learn and teachers teach. Web 2.0 and 3.0 technology tools including, but not limited to blogs, wikis, RSS feeds, web applications, mobile devices, flash, course management systems, video and picture sharing applications, clouds, social networking sites, twitter, web conferencing, and open source applications make it possible for students like me to construct knowledge from many sources. Many of these technology tools have become mainstays of course management systems such as instant messaging, email, discussion boards, blogs, and wikis (Simonson, Smaldino, Albright, & Zvacek, 2012; Boettcher & Conrad, 2010).

Multimedia with its rich assortment of “visual forms of presentation” (Mayer, 1999, in press; Sweller, 1999; as cited in Mayer & Moreno, 2002, p. 88) including graphics, photo images, animation, audio, video, and text resources is greatly impacting the online environment. Through the use of these objects, students can be actively engaged in meeting their own learning needs in the online learning environment (Buckley & Smith, 2008). It is important to note, “Multimedia instructional environments are widely recognized to hold great potential for improving the way people learn” (Mayer, 1999, in press; Sweller, 1999; van Merrienboer, 1997; as cited in Mayer & Moreno, 2002, p. 87). In addition, the use of multimedia is known to be beneficial to people with different learning styles including visual, aural, and kinesthetic learners (Birch & Sankey, 2008).

What are the most important considerations an online instructor should make before implementing technology?

I wrote this statement in a previous blog, but it bears repeating because of its relevance to this question, “From my professional experience of 17 years teaching face-to-face classes for various computer applications; I have learned the value of knowing the technology for which I am teaching” (Baker, 2013, p. 1). At a minimum, the online instructor should be very confident with using essential tools built into the course management system. Since discussions are a primary means for creating a sense of community and bonding among learners (Boettcher & Conrad, 2010), the online instructor should plan on utilizing the discussion board to its fullest capability. Boettcher and Conrad (2010) recommend an incentive be attached to discussion board activities to encourage participation. For example, assigning a percentage of the total course grade, as is the practice at Walden University, is a motivating factor for students to participate in discussions. The online instructor should also be familiar with email, announcements, and using the grade book.

What implications do usability and accessibility of technology tools have for online teaching?

When I think of usability, the first question which comes to my mind is, “How user friendly is the course site?” But, according to Cooper, Colwell, and Jelfs (2007), the definition of usability goes much deeper; in an e-learning environment; usability refers to the “effectiveness, efficiency and satisfaction with which users can achieve specified learning goals” (Cooper et al., 2007, p. 232). A second question, and probably more important in regards to usability is, “How can the technology tool be utilized by the student to complete learning assignments, projects, or discussions”?

In contrast, accessibility is the “ability of the learning environment to adjust to the needs of all learners” (IMS Global Learning Consortium, 2002; as cited in Cooper et al., 2007, p. 232). The question here is, “Is the course management system flexible”? A second question, “Is the learning resource capable of meeting the needs and preferences of all users”? According to Cooper et al., “accessibility and usability are intrinsically linked; the lower the level of accessibility of a resource for an individual, the less usable it will be for them” (2007, p. 232). Obviously, the online instructor and instructional designer designing the course need to make every effort possible to maintain a high level of usability and accessibility for the technology tools and learning resources.

What technology tools are most appealing to you for online teaching as you move forward in your career in instructional design?

If I have the opportunity to be an instructor for an online course delivered through a course management system, I will quickly become proficient in using all of its built-in technology tools including the use of the discussion board, blog, uploading course assignments, and instant messaging. In addition, I anticipate quickly becoming proficient with the course management system’s instructor tools including the grade book, discussion analysis tool, announcements, grading rubrics, and other instructor components of the system. I understand the benefits of utilizing the discussion board, though one strategy I would consider using is providing opportunities for students to create their own discussion topics and questions based on the learning goals to be achieved for that week.

What did you learn that would help you implement effective online instructional strategies in the future?

In the course readings for this week and this blog assignment, I learned about the online activities occurring in the “early middle weeks” (Boettcher & Conrad, 2010, p. 100) of the course. I also learned strategies for promoting a teaching presence; expanding my teaching tool set; nurturing the content and learning community, and pedagogical uses for technology tools most beneficial in this phase of the course.

Baker, P. (2013). Setting up an online experience. [Blog]. Unpublished document.

Birch, D., & Sankey, M. D. (2008). Drivers for and obstacles to the development of interactive multimodal technology-mediated distance higher education courses. International Journal of Education and Development using Information and Communication Technology (IJEDICT), 4(1), 66-79. Retrieved from

Boettcher, J. V., & Conrad, R. (2010). The online teaching survival guide: Simple and practical pedagogical tips. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Buckley, W., & Smith, A. (2007). Application of multimedia technologies to enhance distance learning. Heldref Publications, 39(2), 57-65. Retrieved from

Cooper, M., Colwell, C., & Jelfs, A. (2007). Embedding accessibility and usability: Considerations for e-learning research and development projects. Research in Learning Technology, 15(3), 231-245. DOI: 10.1080/09687760701673659

Mayer, R. E., & Moreno, R. (2002). Animation as an aid to multimedia learning. Educational Psychology Review, 14(1), 87-99. Retrieved from

Simonson, M., Smaldino, S., Albright, M., & Zvacek, S. (2012). Teaching and learning at a distance: Foundations of distance education (5th ed.). Boston, MA: Pearson Education.