It is a reality that not every learning task is taken upon by students with their sheer desire to get better at it. Skeptic about its value, but interested in its rewards, they will try to game the system. So plagiarism exists.
Moodle offers several plagiarism checkers. Their role is clearly defined, which is why they don’t tend to have a lot of functional distinctions. Which means other factors are in consideration when it’s time to choose a winner. Ease of use, integration to the grading workflow, and structure are some examples. But the key feature is the quality of the detection progress. This depends on the algorithms and the size of the comparable stock of data it can get access to.
The value of these tools for the learning experience is a matter of ongoing discussion. The most popular and robust tools available are commercial solutions. For them to work, the company uploads student work into their private repository. Then they perform comparisons. Once they produce an assessment of similarities, they may keep the student work. They can use it to compare against future submissions. In this scenario, the checkers are technically profiting off student intellectual property.
Before we review some of the popular tools, here is a list of factors to consider when for choosing your checker:
- Fees: What are the subscription fees and usage rates?
- Workflow integration: Basically, how many clicks does it add to the grading process?
- Sources: How large is the contrasting dataset, and where does it feed from? Some also have the ability to check against a dataset from your institution
- Up-to-date: Is the plugin in ongoing development? Does it support your institution’s Moodle site version?
The most popular plagiarism plugin for Moodle is Turnitin. Rather than one plugin, the Turnitin family has a checker and an interface, but they must be installed together. A non-rigorous survey of satisfaction seems positive for Turnitin, though not without the occassional support and pricing complain. As reported by Digital Pedagogy Lab, accepting Turnitin’s terms of services grants lifetime rights to student submissions.
The addition of a third plugin, Turnitin Direct V2 Assignment, received compliments. This tool checks submissions automatically as students upload them. But this service costs extra. Moodler John Provasnik reports it costs $1 USD per student, plus the regular Turnitin license fee. It also allows you to connect to Turnitin’s other services.
Often thought of as a stripped-down version of Turnitin, PlagScan is cheaper. The plugin page offers a free trial and boasts the sophistication of its “advanced two-step algorithm.”
One issue with the PlagScan plugin is its lack of compliance with Moodle coding guidelines in its available versions. According to a statement by PlagScan’s Cati Mayer, the company is working on meeting the guidelines and also making the API faster. In the meantime, it offers a special discount for Turnitin users looking to switch checkers. Mayer claims none of the customers who’ve done that have looked back.
Yet another checker, this one is working to increase its market share. VeriCite is offering a 60-day free trial that can be fully incorporated into the Moodle workflow. It promises LTI compatibility, a high level of support, and a fraction of the cost of its competitors.
A previous version of this plugin compared submissions with text on the web as well as sn institution’s dataset, but commercial search engines today charge users for accessing their API. The free version offers a limited number of checks.
See more plagiarism checker type plugins for Moodle here, where you can sort them by users, fans, and last updated date.
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