I thought my idea of making all of my old student sites Editor’s Only in order to avoid kids trying to plagiarize from old assignments would work until I realized that our good friend Google not only points to pages, it also caches them.
I just know that this is going to be an issue at some point if it isn’t already. It’s not going to be that hard for one of my students to search for key words from an assignment and come across the answers posted by one of my students earlier in the year. Even though the site itself may not be accessible, Google will oblige by displaying the page as it was created, with all of the key search terms highlighted. Nice.
I don’t have many good options here, I think. I could change every assignment every time, but some assignments really can’t be changed in any appreciable way because of the content involved. I could do a Google search of one line from the answer to every assignment to see if there are any hits, but that would be far too time consuming. I could have kids hand in some assignments on paper and only do their reporting and beat work online, but that kind of defeats the purpose, at least in the way I envisioned this. I know I’m talking about maybe only 20% of what I do, but it’s still enough to get me thinking. (BTW, my original thoughts on this here.)
Publishing is a wonderful thing, but it also opens up many new doors for abuse. I’d love to say that it’s nothing to worry about, but it is. Right now, for many of the kind of read and answer questions types of assignments I give, I can’t be 100% sure that a student’s work is his own. Thoughts or ideas welcomed as always.