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Running Head: ETHICAL USE




                            Ethical Student Use of the Web

                                Lucy Ann McLaughlin

                                  Walden University

                6664: Integrating Technology in the Curriculum Part II

                                    Rebecca Yard

                                    March 2, 2008
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                                 Ethical Student Use of the Web

       Ethical student use of information has long been an issue of concern to educators. The

plagiarism of old, whose trademark was mostly the use of improperly cited and false sources to

disguise it, and totally pilfered papers handed in as one’s own, has morphed into a more

sophisticated level of crime with unlimited web and multimedia resources available to copy and

easily reproduce. Once just the realm of the librarian and English instructor, research instruction

and activities must now be shared by all content area instructors to meet the varied challenges of

information and technology literacy, and to assure our students are capable and ethical

information users. Targeted instruction through Collaborative planning, curriculum reform, and

early intervention is needed to cope with this vast problem, as well as sound computer use

policies consistently and fairly reinforced by school administration.

       Collaborative efforts that share the expertise of content area instructors and the research

expertise of library media specialists and technology coaches in planning curriculum to meet

information and technology standards is one method of addressing plagiarism and ethical use

issues. Collaboration calls for a shift in both instructional methods and content as educators join

forces to facilitate student centered authentic learning experiences that move totally away the

type of assignment that merely requires a student to find and report common knowledge and

factual information, to an assignment that requires students to generate their own information

and insights based on research and essential questioning. In his article, The New Plagiarism:

Seven Antidotes to prevent Highway Robbery in an Electronic Age, Jamie McKenzie,

reminiscent of Art Costa’s Three Story Intellect Model, distinguishes three levels of research,

relating them to Bloom’s Taxonomy scale, and advocating for research questions that fit the top

of the scale. McKenzie states, “ When we require fresh thinking, we stand the least risk of
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suborning plagiarism. If students cannot find the answers, but make the answers, they are less apt

to pass off other’s ideas as their own. The secret is to pose questions that have never been

adequately answered (McKenzie, 1998, p. 3). McKenzie also emphases the nature of essential

inquiry and upper level research takes a good deal of time. This too has implications for the

average research school research project, which, in my opinion is generally rushed.

       Just like McKenzie, many librarians, including myself, provide instruction and models to

help students record, organize, and cite their information properly and ethically. The Big6

information literacy and problem solving software walks students step by step through the

research process (“What Is the Big6,” 2007). NoodleTools software similarly walks students

through the citation process (“NoodleTools,” 2008). McKenzie and other instructors teach

students to use different colors of ink when note- taking and storing information to help them

differentiate ideas and make sure proper credit is given to other’s work. For instance, black ink is

used for other’s ideas, green ink is used for fresh ideas generated by the student (McKenzie,

1998, p. 8). Some instructors have their students use black ink for quoted materials and red ink

for paraphrased material. The same ideas can be carried over to concept mapping with

Inspiration software.

       Spending more time with specific skills like paraphrasing and summarizing will also help

alleviate the plagiarism tendencies. Just recently, for my collaborative action research project I

had the opportunity to spend two full weeks instructing these two skills with my target group,

and the results were very good. There is also interactive software that helps build and reinforce

these skills while keeping the learning engaging and fun. Many students are intimidated by the

well-expressed and experienced ideas of others. One can see it in their hesitation to express and

write their own ideas. One can also see this lack of confidence in the plagiarized documents that
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some hand in. Students need time and practice to confidently extract meaning and re-state

information. This skill will lead to more confident self- expression as well.as reinforce ethical

use.

       As most of us agree, students need to think critically and form essential questions. The

search for new information can go far in eliminating the tendency to plagiarize. Facilitating

research within the support of cooperative groups can help students generate and expand

thoughts that may inspire original research and insights. Group work would be an excellent way

to teach and reinforce several ethical and fair use concepts. As there are several issues to address,

each group could research copyright violations and remediate a fair use issue. For instance,

students could write companies for permission to use graphics, clip art, and sound clips. Students

could also research and present sites that offer free multimedia for student projects. Being

actively involved in discovering, discerning, and remediating ethical issues will not only

reinforce ethical use, but also may heighten student awareness of other potential unethical

situations, and give students the skills to address them.

       As evidenced in my reading, the posts in the forum, and my school experience, there is a

mix of pro-active and re-active strategies employed to combat plagiarism. Several educators are

using “Turnitin” or “ Safe Assignment” to catch cheaters in the act, and several of us limit the

number and use of online resources to monitor abuse. Internet Workshops, Internet Inquiries, and

WebQuests fill both the role of limiting resources and offering authentic learning experiences.

Lastly, rules and policies are often used to curb unethical use, but I believe if we are mainly

using our computer use policies to handle technology abuse, we are not properly serving our

students. Policies and rules have their place, and certainly students need to be accountable for

behavior and be clearly informed they will suffer consequences for violations. Policies should be
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part of a multi-pronged strategic approach that for the most part, in my opinion, should be pro-

active in nature.

       One of my favorite readings on the topic of ethical use comes from the very positive and

pro-active, Greg Van Belle, English instructor at Edmonds Community College. In his article,

How Cheating Helps Drive Better Instruction, Van Belle positively reacts to the cheating frenzy

by challenging himself (and all of us) to totally re-think curriculum and create “cheat-proof

course materials”(Van Belle, 1997-2001). He offers a number of strategies that are easy to enact

regarding curbing plagiarism. For example, rotating the curriculum we repeatedly teach

throughout the year and adding new and unique elements different from previous assignments

can discourage plagiarizing and also keep your teaching exciting. He also suggests simply having

students show their resources as they progress with the assignment, and monitor their writing in

class. Most instructors hand out a list of cheating sites on a syllabus, he also shows his students

the ten most popular cheating sites on the web, letting them know he is fully aware of the

possibilities for cheating (Van Belle, 1997-2001).

       Parental involvement is key to the success of all educational endeavors. Our school

district introduces technology resources for parents, the computer use policy, and the online

resources available through the library media center to parents at the beginning of the school

year at a special open house. Ethical issues are mentioned, but it would be best to do a separate

workshop. Our school also provided an Internet safety program this fall for parents. The chief

presenter was an FBI agent who heads the Internet crime unit regarding children. He presented

some horrible, frightening, and tragic cases from all over the states, as well as, to everyone's

surprise, cases from our immediate area and neighboring counties. . It truly affected the entire

audience. He also showed parents what to look for in chat rooms regarding language, texting,
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and hidden meanings. Clearly, we need to offer parents more of these types of presentations

where they can receive useful guidelines to help monitor student use to prevent safety and ethical

issues, as well as hands-on practical computer experience accessing the school’s online resources

and how to cite them.
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                                          References

McKenzie, J. (1998, May). The new plagiarism: Seven antidotes to prevent highway robbery in
     an electric age. In From now on the educational technology journal. Retrieved February
     21, 2008, from fno.org Web site: http://fno.org/may98/cov98may.html

NoodleTools. (2008). Retrieved March 2, 2008, from NoodleTools database:
      http://www.noodletools.com/noodlebib/defineEntryAPA.php

Van Belle, G. (1997-2001). How cheating helps drive better instruction. In Plagiarized.com:The
      definitive guide to internet plagiarism. Retrieved February 22, 2008, from
      http://www.plagiarized.com/vanb.html

What is the Big6. (2007, October 17). The Big6 information skills for student achievement.
       Retrieved January 18, 2008, from Big6 Associates, LLC. Web site: http://www.big6.com
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