I have just noticed, while grading one of my students wiki projects (they create an entire page dedicated to exploring a literary term), that the entire thing has just been copied and pasted from other places. Wholesale. All plagiarized. When I asked the student (otherwise an excellent writer and a seemingly good student) she admitted that that was really what she had been doing all semester with online assignments, including the informal online discussion blogs assignments. She seemed to not notice there was a problem, as if digital material is all the same -- in one place, out another, who cares, right? Plagiarism is only when you do it in one of your essays, right?
Has anyone else noticed a disconnect in students regarding information they generate in a digital world and that which they generate, still on computers, but turn in on paper? I would have though there was the same risk, but this student makes me question it. She seems fully aware that it is not OK to copy and paste from the internet on papers, but when I ask them to complete an assignment online, she is surprised that the same rules apply--as if perhaps even the JOB was to find answers online and copy them onto your blog post or wiki project, without filtering through your own consciousness, assessing and providing original interpretation, commentary and analysis. Isn't that what the internet is, just data and commentary that has been copied from one place and put somewhere else? Isn't it just accepted that the internet is full of that? If our students are meant to be producing knowledge and commentary, and placing it in that digital world, why, they seem to wonder, do they have to play by different rules? OK, they understand that there are a set of rules and standards governing ESSAYS (something about the MLA police and the Academic Integrity enforcement squad), but the internet is free-play, words are everyone's and no one owns anything, so we can borrow at will -- it's all one big collage.
What is the disconnect and what can we do early in the semester to make them understand that there are different rules for them (as students and as responsible users of the web in training) and for the crazy pajama web users and the 13 year old girls with blogs? I know the issue of the internet and the dangers and minefields of plagiarism inherent there have been discussed for some time, and for the most part students know it's wrong, but what makes them know it is wrong in papers, but not in online discussions and projects? And how do we help them see that there shouldn't be any difference, and not just in school, while a student, but in the future, too?
Also, funny Onion video here:http:// In The Know: Are Tests Biased Against Students Who Don't Give A Shit?