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21 April, 2020

Digital Media Competency in Reality

How implementing a text-matching software to detect plagiarism prepares pupils for their upcoming way of life.

Urkund, a text-matching software used to safeguard academic integrity, welcomes recent developments. The use of online platforms and technology in K12 education keeps growing continuously. Countries such as Australia, Sweden, the United States and the United Kingdom, amongst others, are seeing the benefits of using software solutions that ensure the quality of education in remote and online learning situations. Using a plagiarism detection software such as Urkund as early as middle or high school sets a crucial moral standard. It lays the groundwork for a successful academic career. 

Urkund also helps to prevent the “copy-paste” culture that often occurs in homework, presentations and exams. The Digitisation of education and the usage of the Internet are deeply ingrained in the curriculum, and the life of students, and have been for a while. That is why Australia, for example, has been adopting online learning methods through platforms such as https://www.scootle.edu.au/ec/p/home or https://education.abc.net.au/home#!/home, which offer thousands of free resources in line with the Australian curriculum. 

Today’s pupils and students are digital natives and well acquainted with the usage of “smart” hardware and “intelligent” software. But what happens to their moral compass and feeling of fairness when billions of resources are available for free and with minimal effort? Studies suggest that students are more prone to take shortcuts and cheat during online classes compared with physical classes, a fact that becomes more relevant in current events. All the while, it gets harder for teachers to detect these shortcuts manually. 

At Urkund, we have understood the need for a solution to this problem, and for 20 years we have been safeguarding academic integrity and correct practice in schools and universities worldwide. Our plagiarism detection software is constantly evolving to match technologies’ newest developments and to fit seamlessly into the learning environments of schools and universities. 

Why start early?

One of the buzz phrases of the Edtech community is “digital media competency”. While most conversations around this topic focus on the ‘if’s’, ‘what’s’ and ‘why’s’ of specific hardware – few mention the ‘how’s’. For us here at Urkund it is equally important to teach students to use technology responsibly and in an academically correct way, as well as advising which technology should be used in the first place. Our advice is to start as early as possible. The longer we wait with teaching correct methods, the harder it will become to have them imprinted in students’ minds. Only when we are sure that technology is used not only in a smart but also in an ethically correct way, can we say we have succeeded with digitisation in schools.  

Schools are responsible for the future of their students

It’s a complex problem that today’s schools need to face: On one hand, copying a text from the Internet without its source might be a simple mistake. On the other hand, it can hint at deeper moral struggles of the student. That can cause severe damage to their future academic career. If overlooked, it can undermine the entire quality of education and foster an environment in which it is acceptable to cheat and take shortcuts, according to McCabe and Trevino. In the end, this penalises everyone. The honest student is treated unfairly and students who plagiarise will not get the chance to develop innovative, critical and original thinking. And it’s the latter of these skills that enables students to pursue their dreams and choose their preferred career. It’s the innovative and original thinkers, engineers, scientists, artists that are the most wanted on the job market.

Of course, it is a bit of a stretch to equalise digital media competency with a plagiarism detection software. But many schools worldwide have recognised that we are an important part of the bigger picture. Only if students realise sooner rather than later that moral integrity is the foundation of their daily work and life, can they use and fulfil their potential later on. 

We at Urkund are happy to be a part of that process. 

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