Monday, September 1, 2014

The Sting: Old School Academic Policies in a Digital World

We are setting up our students to fail, to cheat, and to steal when we pretend the Internet does not exist.

Plagiarism in a world of remix, sampling, remakes, and Wikipedia can be confusing to children to say the least. They are digital natives. We are not.

I can write another long post, or share another anecdote, but recently I have curated content that I must share...

1. To begin, Flipboard should be shared with all teachers - more on that later. I curated a magazine on Flipboard about Plagiarism and found Beg, Borrow, Steal by Marcelle McGhee - and more!

2. Take the time to listen to NPR's TED Radio Hour "What Is Original?

3. From PBS: Published on Oct 3, 2013
Creativity has always been essential for our cultural growth, but there are still many misconceptions about this elusive process. Not the left-brain/right-brain binary that we've come to believe, being creative is considerably more complex, and requires a nuanced understanding of ourself and others. Being a powerful creative person involves letting go of preconceived notions of what an artist is, and discovering and inventing new processes that yield great ideas. Most importantly, creators must push forward, whether the light bulb illuminates or not.

4. From NYTimes via Brainpickings plus more Brainpickings on Mark Twain:

5. When academic policies are debated, I wondered what my alma mater does...and I found a pdf version of Andover's Blue Book. What I like most is the tone by beginning with expectations - and how honesty is foundational to a community; then, the policy acknowledges: 
"All scholarship builds upon the ideas and information of others; the honest person makes clear in written work exactly what the source of any borrowed information or idea is, whether it be library materials, the Internet, classmates, or family members." 
There is no scholarship without reading the ideas of others. It doesn't say don't use the Internet. 
It doesn't mention reading guides. It doesn't say be original. It doesn't don't talk to anyone. It simply says honesty is vital and the honest person gives proper credit where credit is due. 

In my opinion, reading guides are much ado about nothing. They give the basics. Most students would rather read the book, if they have time. They can help weaker students and he/she need not feel shame about using them. And when you say DON'T - some students will read them for the sake of rebellion. 

We should focus on teaching the importance of honesty, and how to become digital citizens (proper citation in a digital world, the consequences of plagiarism, etc). 

While students may be digital natives, they must learn digital citizenship. Where else are they going to learn these lessons? College is too late.

At the very least, we must end the denial about the Internet and let go of the nostalgia for the primacy of physical books (and that's really tough for me to write as a self-confessed hoarder of books). 

Then, both teacher and student can learn in an environment of integrity.

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