‘Upholding academic integrity also key in virtual classrooms’
ALTHOUGH many schools in the Philippines and Southeast Asia have adapted to the new learning environment by introducing new methods of distance learning and blended learning, an official from an educational- software company recently pointed out that educators and students— even parents— need to develop academic integrity to make learning a relevant and substantial undertaking.
“Despite sudden changes in [education deployment] system- wide, academic integrity is still a key concept to discuss and establish with all students,” Turnitin Southeast Asia Head of Business and Partnerships Jack Brazel said.
According to Brazel, educators can start teaching integrity in the syllabus by defining it, while pointing out the consequences of submitting plagiarized work. He said the next step is to continue teaching tangible lessons around it throughout the class.
“Without this critical foundation to empower and encourage learning, students pick up dishonest habits, such as plagiarism and contract cheating, which can be difficult to break beyond the classroom,” Brazel shared.
After building a solid foundation in the academic community complemented with clearly defined expectations for students, the Turnitin executive said educational institutions and teachers need to integrate such into all aspects of the course: from class assignments to assessments.
Brazel added technology could be a great
enabler of academic integrity, as it supports the above- mentioned efforts and addresses emerging trends in academic integrity, allowing educators to detect unoriginal work quickly and turn it into a student learning experience.
“Tools for digital assessment and feedback also empower educators to improve interaction and engagement with students who are adjusting to virtual classrooms as the norm,” he said.
Brazel explained that plagiarism starts from small acts, such as committing an improper citation of a source, or not having the habit of citing sources from the first draft of a writing assignment. Although a minor infraction, he warned this can lead to unethical behavior, if not caught and corrected early. One of the tradeoffs of remote learning, he told, increases the temptation of students to take shortcuts when referencing ideas, or participate in collusion, whereby they get help from family, friends or other contacts to write their work.
Moreover, the Turnitin official said “stressed students can also be more susceptible to engage in cheating online, and this current learning environment is undoubtedly contributing to their stress.” Brazel emphasized the ability to convey original thought and properly attribute the ideas of others are core parts of learning.
He said academic integrity is key to instilling this ability and teaches foundational, lifelong skills that students carry with them long after school, in society, and in the workplace.
Moreover, educational institutions should use this opportunity to reinforce academic integrity as part of their values. This must start in their pre- university years, as students can learn to express original ideas and undertake proper citations. At the same time, education systems and institutions also need to work collectively to identify right solutions to enhance outcomes in blended- learning environments.
He said online learning and virtual classrooms will be a key education module long after the pandemic, and upholding academic integrity is just as important in virtual classrooms as in- person learning environments. These steps ensure that institutions maintain positive reputations, while students continue to receive high- quality education.