Plagiarism – I Can Google That!



How many times during your undergraduate years did you find yourself pulling an all-righter to finish a paper the night before it was due? How much content from those papers that you wrote do you still remember and use in the real-world today? Plagiarism is about having behavioral standards about the work that you do and citing the work of others that you use properly (College of Agricultural Sciences, 2005). Back in 1997 when I graduated, AltaVista was the major search engine in use at the time. According to Wikipedia (2016), Google had not formally been incorporated until 1998. So during my time as an undergraduate, you did your research in the library, took materials home with you and wrote your paper using a Word processor. Back then, the means of determining plagiarism was done by manually comparing papers by hand. Today, there is a vast amount of resources available online that make it easier to copy and paste from websites and the potential to claim that verbiage as your own. However, search engines such as Google allow facilitators to track down copied phrases with commercially available plagiarism detection software and online services such as EVE and to compare individual student papers to Web documents and/or essay databases to find and report instances of matching text (Jocoy & DiBiase, 2006). As a facilitator, I agree with Dr. Pratt in his approach toward making assessments that would mirror real-life expectations (Laureate Education, 2010). If I were to conduct a class on Shakespeare, I believe the likelihood of receiving papers on the interpretation of passages that might be plagiarize could be greater than if I was to give an assignment based upon how a student would approach a situation in the real world. Real-world examples can have many variables and students have different life-experiences that could lead them to different solutions to a situation. This consideration would make it less likely to plagiarize someone else’s work and claim it as your own. It would require a deeper understanding and method of producing a trouble-shooting workflow that can vary between individuals. By changing the scenario and altering a few variables to the situation, the student is put into a position of having to prepare a head of time for the situation and come up with original thoughts to demonstrate an understanding of the material, like Star Fleet Academy cadets would have to in the fictional TV show scenario of Star Trek’s Kobayashi Maru.


Jocoy, C., & DiBiase, D. (2006). Plagiarism by adult learners online: A case study in detection and remediation. International Review of Research in Open & Distance Learning, 7(1), 1-15. Retrieved from the Walden Library using the Education Research Complete database

Laureate Education (Producer). (2010). Plagiarism and cheating [Video file]. Retrieved from

Ready to Engage


As a classroom instructor transitioning into the role of an online facilitator, there are a lot of considerations to be made before the launch of that first class. There are a number of learning management systems (LMS) available on the market from open-source to fee-based services. A facilitator’s choice may depend on the technical prowess and available time commitment to set up and manage the LMS if an administrator is not available to assist with this task. Open-source LMS systems require a considerable amount of time to manage installation, setup and maintenance with unknown variables that can add to the technical side and take away from the instructional development side with little to no support. Depending upon an institution’s choice for a LMS, with all of the features a learning management system can offer, the best approach for teaching the first online course is to keep it simple and only consider the technology tools that are necessary for student engagement (Boettcher & Conrad, 2010, p. 57). With an online course, the objective is to move the focus from passive teaching to active learning by exploiting many of the same technologies used every day to connect and collaborate with others (Aldridge, 2013)

Since the most important initial goal within the first weeks of the course is to get acquainted with the learners, establish trust and to launch the learning community (Boettcher & Conrad, 2010, p. 56), the easier it is to do this without getting bogged down with a steep technology learning curve for the student or the facilitator, the better. Being able to use audio and video technology to bridge the distance between the instructor and learners can have a benefit as well as a smoother transition into the next phases of a course that can impact the outcome of the learning goals.

There are a number of technological resources that can assist a facilitator such as audio recordings using Audacity for a class introduction or a video introduction using iMovie on an iPad a well as Adobe Captivate. Regardless of the technology a facilitator decides to use, the most important consideration should be how easy it is for the learner to access the technology and the applicability of the resource to the learning. Students in an online course have the advantage of gaining access to learning resources that can connect them to recognized industry experts and engage in an active exchange of information regardless of where they live (Aldridge, 2013). With this availability to resources, an instructor must consider the type of technology they chose to include in a course so that any student, even those living in rural areas or those not so savvy with technology have the opportunity to use the technology without hindrance and focus on the learning, not the technology.

The online environment offers a great opportunity for people from all over the world to come together and meet that would not normally have the opportunity to and share thoughts and perspectives on an intellectual level. As an online facilitator, I believe it is important for the students to engage in meaningful dialog with one another and share perspectives so the tools I use will have that focus in mind. I will be incorporating video into my introduction as a means of connecting with my students on a personal level and have them do the same in a multimedia format to include audio and/or video. I will also use discussion boards as a driving force to engage students in a way that causes learning to occur and change in perspective, thus building a better understanding of the world around us. What I think will also be helpful to incorporate in an online environment is to offer open office hours during crunch times in the course where students will have access to the facilitator and can ask questions in a chat session or through Google Hangouts. By establishing a foundation of effective tools that allow for student engagement, as time moves and technology advances, other more advanced tools may become available, but as a facilitator, one should always remember that as technology changes, it is merely an inevitable tool that is in place to assist with communicating, interacting and finding a means of constructing new knowledge for the student.


Aldridge, S. (2013). 3 Ways Technology-Enhanced Courses Benefit Learners. Retrieved from

Boettcher, J. V., & Conrad, R. (2010). The online teaching survival guide: Simple and practical pedagogical tips. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.