Turnitin faces new questions about efficacy of plagiarism detection software | InsideHigherEd

I have long been having controversial feelings and thoughts about plagiarism detection and its place in higher education. Our contention has always been that it’s a tool at best, and a highly imperfect one at that, to help faculty find things in students’ writing. What sort of things exactly? This article brings up what this software (both TurnItIn and SafeAssign, and Google as a separate item altogether!) may do, and what effect using this software has on teaching practice. Some important ethical questions are raised here. This article invites an open discussion, and there are a few comments there already, worth noting, so please comment below here or on the original page as well!

Turnitin faces new questions about efficacy of plagiarism detection software | InsideHigherEd.


Another Safe Source of High Quality Copyright-Free Images



It’s amazing how generous people can be with their creations! Pixabay is a website which hosts and allows you to download high quality images that you can use and reuse any way you want! They don’t even require attribution, although that is always nice to mention. If your students are creating web pages or any other publishable materials, they may want to explore this site. The only caution is that you will also see “sponsored images” – they are clearly marked, have a watermark, and are NOT free, but they already went out of their way to make it very obvious, so there is really no confusing them!

What is Pixabay? Read the FAQ.

And just a nice touch, you can always buy your favorite volunteer photographer a coffee (donate to the site).

I have written about using Google search to find copyright-free images in the past. Remember this blog is filled with invaluable tips, so set aside time to explore it!

Making Friends with Copyright Law

We often view copyright as a nuisance, and it may be in certain instances, but along with protecting the rights of the owners and creators of intellectual property, it provides for rights of users to view, distribute, modify and do other things with certain materials for a fee or free of charge (such as under fair use). Fair Use guidelines start with the premise that materials are used for educational purposes, and then considers several factors to establish whether such use is warranted.

  • Textbooks: Materials that are expected to be used by students are generally to be purchased by them. You may share a chapter or its equivalent from a book containing 10 or more chapters or up to 10% of a book with fewer chapters. It appears that you may continue to use this from semester to semester.
  • Video: Ideally, your institution would have public broadcasting rights. If not, using publicly available videos, as well library services or rental (one night rentals are really cheap), you will be better off. YouTube: if you suspect that a video is improperly posted, or unlawfully obtained, you may not use it in a course. It is a bummer, but doing so would make you an accomplice in stealing intellectual property and that’s not a good thing. Playing a movie you rented or personally own won’t work either. The program needs to own the movie before you can consider showing it to a restricted group of enrolled students.
  • Pictures: Assume that unless explicitly stated so, all resources online are copyright protected, so you may not just grab an image and save it to display in your course. Linking to the image may also be problematic. Try to stick with Creative Commons licenses or your own images and icons. (Try Flickr Creative Commons (remember about attribution or plagiarism is your next concern) or this Iconfinder).
  • Journal Articles: Well, it appears as if articles can be attachments in your course instead of links to Full Text Journals, although the latter provides excellent practice.

Finally, the big disclaimer: this is not legal advice, just some perspective on Fair Use and your expanded rights under Fair Use guidelines to use materials for educational purposes with students in online courses. Please review the UNE Copyright Policy and share it with your students.