Friday, December 27, 2013

Catching Cheating Using Technology

I like to think that when I teach I am embarking on an adventure with my students, but kids are kids and there are lots of pressures they feel from trying to impress their friends, pleasing their parents and, in some cases, not even being aware of cheating (plagiarism) - or rather never have been called on it.  There are lots of ways kids can cheat, but with technology it has also become easier to catch.

  1. Copying from the Internet remains the most prevalent cheating and the easiest to catch.  As I tell my students, most of them are paid to write and so as nicely as some of them can write, any time I suspect copying from the Internet (PowerPoints seem to be the place most likely to do this), I just paste in a line into Google and up it pops.  Usually if there is more than a line, I don't accept the assignment.
  2. Copying from friends is harder to catch, but using Google Drive there are several ways to catch offenders:
    • For each set of assignments, create a folder and drag in each assignment.  At the same time, right click on your "shared with me" stream and "remove."  The assignments will still remain in your folder.  
    • If you think you've seen a line in an assignment more than once then go to the search engine for the assignment folder (see above) any type in the "offending language."  As with searching the Internet any copied language will appear and instantly you can see where it originated.  If you partner with other students, have them create a similar folder and you can exchange lines.
  3. Use "revision history" by going to "file" and then "revision history."  
    • This will allow you to see how much your students have been working on a project which will appear on the right side under "revision history."  If there is only one entry either your students wrote it in Microsoft Word (and there you will have to decide if you want to "ban" using this or they copied it.  Either way it is a huge flag to tell that you need to copy a strand of the language into the search engine and see what you get.  
    • You can also see what time the kids were at work.
  4. If you are like me catching students is no fun and detracts from the team aspect of learning that we try to build in our classrooms.  On the other hand, make a point of nicely telling your kids how many kids have been caught.  Usually catching a few early in the year detracts from cheating the rest of the year and leads to better learning the rest of it.  Of course how you deal with cheaters is up to you and your school.  Here's to hoping these tricks detract from cheating. When my book comes out in the late spring I'll have more on these techniques, but more on that later. 

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