Rise of Edu-Tech Startups Can Increase Content Plagiarism Issues


Byju’s, Cuemath, and Khan Academy are some examples of how edu-tech startups are rising and becoming prominent in the Internet ecosystem. In the 2017 Online Education Trends report, it was found that on-campus enrollments are shrinking while there is a steep growth in online education and related career opportunities. The report found 72% students in preference of online education as they want to focus on job opportunities and uncharted career options.

A by-product of this trend is an increase in educational content plagiarism. Plagiarism is rife in academic pursuits and in the online education model, it is sometimes hard for educators to detect copied content. While the online ecosystem has truly simplified education, it has definitely led to an increase in content plagiarism issues. What measures can educators, edu-tech startups and online course providers can take to ensure they are evaluating and grading the paper accurately?

Here are some methods.

#1 Using a Plagiarism Checking Software

Before beginning the manual editing process, the educator or the person-in-charge should pass the submitted text through a reputed academic plagiarism checking tool, Plagiarism Check. The tool makes uses of AI and advanced technology scanning tools to scan any submitted document from possible plagiarism issues. Started in 2011, Plagiarism Check is used by over 77,000 users. The tool is prominently used by journalists, educators, edu-tech startups, and students. All you need to do is simply upload the text file, run the plagiarism check, and download the report. It highlights all possible instances of plagiarism. You can share this report with the students for modification. You don’t need to download and install this software. Just log in, upload and check.

#2 Discourage Use of Essay Mills

Essay mills are thriving in countries like the USA, UK, New Zealand and Australia. While online education aims to simplify the education process, the Internet ecosystem has also led to the creation of essay mills that target students to sign up with them, pay a certain amount, and get the academic essays written from their pool of writers. While these essays may be perfect in every respect, they don’t help the student to gain knowledge. Such services promote cheating. As edu-tech startup owners, it is your responsibility to educate the students against using such essay mills as it could severely jeopardize their career.

#3 Signed Declarations

Before signing up students on the edu-tech platform, ask the new students to sign a declaration that they are aware of what is plagiarism all about and if they engage in it, they will be liable for its consequences. The official declaration will discourage students against plagiarism. A 2011 Pew Research report published findings on how there is a huge increase in content plagiarism since the last decade. Educators believe that the Internet and the web are responsible for this trend. As the provost of Brevard Community College put it succinctly: “...we are in an era of cut and paste”. It is the duty of new age educators and edu-tech startups to make students realize that submitting plagiarized work won’t benefit their careers.

#4 Stringent Checking

While plagiarism checking tools do help to curb the menace, edu-tech startups can take it a notch higher by creating a team of academicians and editors who would be responsible for evaluating the submitted papers after it goes through the plagiarism detector check. As an added measure, the students should be asked to submit the citations and references separately and identifying what all they researched. If students are using essay mills, they are very unlikely to pass this test successfully. Again, content from essay mills isn't unique. Essays are rehashed to make it seem unique and passed on to the students. If a bunch of students are submitting similar essays, you know they are in trouble.

Why do Students Plagiarize?

Let’s see what the prominent reasons are:

  • Not knowing how to cite resources
  • Not knowing how to do academic research
  • Not being aware that appropriating content constitutes ‘plagiarism.’
  • Being unaware of the goals of education
  • Peer pressure/cheating culture

Copying uncited text from both printed source and Internet source is the top two kinds of plagiarism, following by writing a fake bibliography and submitting an uncited large chunk of texts.

If students aren’t made aware of their fallacy in resorting to plagiarism, it not only hampers their career growth but can often lead to legal and academic repercussions. As such, a solution to this problem is to enforce educational standards and evaluation practices and mentor the students to make them understand the impact of plagiarism on their career.

Image via Shutterstuck

About the Author

Chitraparna Sinha

Chitraparna Sinha is the Founder and Director of Esmee Network. She's also a guest contributor for ChamberofCommerce.com

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