Our story begins in a Swedish classroom during the late 90s. Sweden has been at the forefront of digitalisation which begins to affect education. As Paul Krugman once said, “everything that can be digitised, will be digitised – making intellectual property ever easier to copy”. (Paul Krugman, 2008) The Internet starts to make it easier to copy-paste texts for assignments and teachers feel increasingly frustrated over the fact that too much time is spent on manually catching or dismissing plagiarism. Time that could be better spent on helping students, preparing lectures, or doing research.
This leads to an interesting thought. If we are so good at creating the tools for plagiarising, surely we should be able to use the same technological advancements to help find and prevent it.
The alternative, to not take plagiarism seriously, was never an option. Regardless if plagiarising happened deliberately or not, it affected each individuals’ education and development in a negative way.
So, the team of teachers and developers got together and just as we entered the new millennium, created what today is known as Urkund – an automated system that checks if a text potentially contains plagiarism.
Now, two decades later, this system is aiding teachers across the globe to prevent plagiarism in a pedagogical way. It helps students to learn how to work with references, research correctly, and to develop their own thinking – rather than copying others. Going back to the original challenge, it lets teachers teach by doing a part of the work for them. At Urkund, we want to see the best in people and we strongly believe in an approach that coaches rather than punishes students in order to prevent plagiarism. We want to contribute to a more original and innovative world.
Along the way, we have learned that not every text-matching tool is benevolent, many can even be put to use by rogue players looking for short-cuts. However, our approach stayed the same. We want to be the coach teachers and students need. A coach that help teachers teach and students learn. A coach that can help researchers push the envelope. A coach that celebrates academic integrity and pushes original thinking forward