Friday, May 05, 2006

Marginal Revolution: The economics of plagiarism

I am not sure if I plagiarized this :) but Tyler Cowen at marginal (Marginal Revolution: The economics of plagiarism) writes on the changing economics of plagiarism. I like his list and makes me think of both the increased ease of doing it as well as the increased ease of finding it. My child in his high school has to submit all his work to and the teacher gets a great report showing what parts are not properly cited. I wish my University would license this product, but has decided not to use any technology to make more efficient the professor in catching students plagiarising, while the students have no barriers to their efficient searching of the literature.

While denying the professor the opportunity to use my university does suggest we can take the time consuming process of Googling each and every suspicious bit of writing. The reason my university denies our use of is that they believe that the student has a copywrite in their own papers and then the paper will be stored in a database at and violates their copywrite. Specifically, "(o)nce submitted, the papers are considered proprietary property of the software vendors and are used as comparative data for future submissions and analysis, totally disregarding any intellectual property rights of the students. It is a lawsuit waiting to happen! (reference)", not surprisingly has a very different view and backs it up (see here).

Geoff and Sosin have a section in their paper, which I have previously cited, on plagiarism that is worth a re-read. They start their section with survey results (not theirs) that 82 percent of students admit to cheating and while not all cheating is plagiarism, this raises a fairly serious alarm. They point our the limitations of Googling for discovery and seem to support products like

So try this.. google my phrase above, 82 percent of students admit to cheating and while not all cheating is plagiarism, and see the number of links that point out the seriousness of the problem. I am amazed at the seriousness of the problem, but I do not find the source where I stole that phrase (Geoff and Sosin) until page three of the Google listing. I did substitute 'while' for 'although,' and used 'not all cheating' instead of 'not plagiarism' and left out a citation, but it was taken directly. I think Goeff and Sosin would agree: Google checking is very inefficient and not reliable. Can't we just have

I have long maintained we should not use a technology unless we believe it increases student learning and makes the professor more efficient. could make us more efficient, especially more efficient than endless Googling of phrases, and student learning is always enhanced when they are doing their own work and not stealing the ideas of others.

(And yes I did post this while wading through
student end of term papers).

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Aplia Blogs for Classroom Content

For the last six months, the folks at Aplia have contributed great current event content for the economics course. Every few days another posting brings the same formula of a essay, linked to more indepth readings or "research" that the students may do, and a few questions at the end for class discussion or assignment.

The ones I have read are extremely well done. I would only worry that they won't archive well since, even if Aplia will continue to provide these free, the links to readings are at the originators discretion. You can subscribe via RSS through Feedburner and have all of them sent to your reader (I use My Yahoo for that).

Try Aplia's "economic news blog, a place to explore current events that relate to your econ classes. (They're) currently beta testing this idea, so (they would) love to hear your comments. ... at

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Tablet PC Research

Tablet PCs can improve Education! This is the message of papers available online now and to be delivered at Purdue University. Sponsored in part by Microsoft Reearch, and others, the workshop promises to deliver examples and research to help support the claims of we who believe that Tablet PC offer the greatest value in education today.

WIPTE 2006: "The First Workshop on the Impact of Pen-based Technology on Education will be held on the Purdue University campus in West Lafayette, Indiana on April 6 and 7, 2006. WIPTE is open to anyone with an interest in instructional technology. A wide variety of disciplines are embracing Tablet PC's and similar pen-based devices as tools for the radical enhancement of teaching and learning."