Tuesday 30 June 2015

Detecting plagiarism with Unplag

Plagiarism has become an increasingly significant issue with the increase of online information and the ease with which it can be copied. It is an issue in the classroom for students and educators, but it’s also an issue for writers, bloggers and journalists.

Of course plagiarism is nothing new. Students and writers have been copying each others work or copying from books for centuries, but perhaps what is different now is the ease with which you can actually detect plagiarism and identify the original sources of the content.

This is where Unplag can help. Unplag is a professional tool for detecting plagiarism. Unplag works in a number of ways.
  • You can use it to create your own library of content built up of student work and then check to see if they are plagiarising from each other.
  • You can use it to search billions of webpages to see if students are plagiarising from the internet.
  • You can run a comparison check between two files to see what similarities there are.

When you check a file against the internet for plagiarism you can also generate a report which includes links to the specific pages where the content originated and clicking through to those pages Unplag highlights the precise piece of text that has been plagiarised.

Unplag also creates a PDF report that you can download or email to someone else. The report contains statistics about the percentages of content that are similar as well as the links to the original sources. 

This makes reporting on plagiarism during meetings or tutorials much more effective as you can have the information you need printed up and share a copy with whoever needs to see it.

As a writer or blogger Unplag can be incredibly useful to help you protect your intellectual property. After creating each publication you can upload a copy to Unplag and then run regular checks on your texts to find out if and where your content has been taken. Once again, having a PDF report to use can make dealing with content theft that much more effective.

You can try Unplag for free, though it will only scan through the first 20% of any document you want to check. If plagiarism is something that is a regular problem you need to deal with then you can subscribe for as little as $4.99 a month.

Of course it is possible to run parts of your documents through Google or another search engine to check whether the content is plagiarised, but this isn’t very efficient and can take up a lot of your time, so in the long run, having a service like Unplag can save you both time and money.

I found Unplag really quick to register on and very quick and simple to use. Just click the icon to upload your document, then choose the type of check you want. 
Unplag takes around 4 seconds to check a document and then shows you the report on the sidebar. You click through to the sources and check what they are. Unplag also has the ability to separate out references from the main text content, so this is great for checking academic articles. 

You can then either click the icon to download the report or you can click on the share icon to email the report to someone else.

I hope you find it useful.

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Nik Peachey

Saturday 20 June 2015

Using the TeamUp calendar to schedule learning

One of the greatest challenges to effective study and teaching is organising and managing time efficiently. This becomes even more of a challenge if you want to get your students working in a collaborative way and blending their classroom activity with online activities and projects.

This ability to manage work and collaborative interaction is, however, becoming an increasingly important digital literacy skill for the work place and helping students to manage their collaboration can have a significant impact on their potential to be successful.

TeamUp is a really useful and versatile tool for enabling teachers to do this.

TeamUp is basically an online shareable calendar tool but with some unique features. One of the first and most important for teachers is that you don’t have to register and create passwords. This can make it much simpler to use with groups of students, especially younger or older ones who are prone to loosing or forgetting passwords.

Creating a calendar on TeamUp couldn’t be simpler, just go to the site and click on ‘Create a free calendar’.

You can then give the calendar a name and if you want to you can add your email address. Adding your email address is optional, but if you do add it you’ll be able to get notifications and save access details.

The calendar is then created instantly and then you can either use it privately or share the link with students to allow them to edit it.

There are a number of ways we could use this with our students.
  • Each student could have their own calendar that they use to schedule homework and project due dates etc.
  • You could have a group calendar based around a project and students could access and up date it collaboratively as they schedule their contribution to the project.
  • You could use it to get students setting aims and goals by entering things they want to achieve over the coming year/ course. For example they can write in ‘By this date I would like to be able to …” Or “By this date I will have finished …”  Then they will get a reminder to check that they have achieved their goals.
  • You could use it in a similar way to get students revising vocabulary so that when they learn new words they schedule times to revise the words at intervals of a number of days, weeks or months. They just need to add repeats to events when they add them.
  • Students can use the calendar to keep a blog type learning journal after each lesson to record what they learned from the lesson and then look back and review it.
  • You could also ask students to use it for short daily writing tasks so that they have a theme set up for each day and each student has to write a short text about the topic of that day.
  • TeamUp can also be integrated into Facebook http://calendar.teamup.com/kb/add-teamup-calendar-facebook-profile/ , so if you have a Facebook group that you use with students you can add a calendar to it and enable greater functionality to the group.

For more detailed instructions on how to use the calendar have a look at the getting started guide.

You can also try a live demo of some of the calendars here.

I hope you find TeamUp useful and try it with your students.

Related links:

Nik Peachey