Online Web apps and responsibility

Right now there is a slew of web apps. From onlinespreadsheets to word processors and scrapbooks.  When I was still in school, collaborating with groupmates who had different schedules was done through passing on files on diskettes and also via email.  We didn’t IM much because our schedules were that disjoint.  Nowadays, there are online word processors that allow sharing of files and editing as well – akin to the wiki, but not quite.

The academic year will begin again this June and maybe there are already a number of students who are using these tools to work on their group reports.  But here’s the thing that get me: if these apps could be used for collaboration in terms of making group reports and papers easier, it could also lead to an easy way of massive copying of papers and all that.   Imagine having just one person with a shared document viewable to the public.

I realized that some of the defaults on these collaborative tools is that the files are publicly visible instea of private then choose how you would share them.  Nothing would stop people from plagiarizing, if they really want to do that.  But of course, it just made me think that a lot of the times it boils down our individual use of technology.  I forgot how many articles I have read blaming technology for some evil things but tools at the hands of people could be used for good or for evil.

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  • So teachers must be more vigilant for these new threats. Check out this proof of concept Anti-Plagiarism Tool.

  • Back when I was in the States, the teacher encourages, no wait.. requires us to turn in our paper over at .

    The teacher then retrieves the files on the website. One great thing I know that the website can do is that it can automatically detect plagiarism in the student’s document by searching all throughout the world wide web for similar texts.

  • Btw, it only accepts text files for now. It should not be hard to modify it to use other formats. Also, the threshold is tweakable to get better results.

  • What about copyscape?

  • hip2b2, any plans of releasing the code you’ve got?

  • year 2004 when I published answers on questions given to me by some students for their assignments specially on Math. And they all copied my answers.

  • h2b2: Yes. There’s not only that issue that teachers should be vigilant about these matters. Also, what I think would be important is that the sense of learning be imparted to students. I think that maybe if students find meaning in school stuff, they would not cheat their way through it. I hope that teachers wouldn’t get too paranoid either, to the point of banning too many things.

    banksxs: Whoa. Didn’t know about that til today 🙂 Thanks for the link.

    Anyhow, my point here is that, it is actually beyond copying from content that is publicly available. For all we know some students have email groups sharing homework already. Hahaha. The thing is that teachers are smarter in detecting these activities that involve plagiarism. I am all for learning and community efforts but only if not done for cheating’s sake 🙂

  • Incidentally, I also read this article about cheating in NY Times just this morning.