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Online University Teaching: No Muss, No Fuss.

A student writes in the SUNY Binghamton newspaper:


Academics, you would think, are totally above copying and pasting information from a lowly source such as Wikipedia. However, when I was reviewing a professor’s PowerPoint last week prior to a quiz, I came across something shocking.

It seems that there aren’t as many checks on our educators as we would like.

I briefly thought that my professor had made a mistake, so I consulted Wikipedia to double-check the information. Lo and behold, the text on the PowerPoint slides was identical to the Wikipedia page. I was absolutely dumbfounded. How could someone who took 20 minutes during the first class to warn us of the ramifications of plagiarism actually plagiarize herself?…

It’s such a smooth transaction, and neither student nor teacher needs to move a muscle or learn anything.

The class is entirely composed of text transfer.

She transfers it to a slide; you transfer it from the slide to a paper or an exam. Then she gives you an A.

Margaret Soltan, April 23, 2010 11:52PM
Posted in: PowerPoint Confidential

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2 Responses to “Online University Teaching: No Muss, No Fuss.”

  1. Cassandra Says:

    Whoa…let’s not leap to conclusions.

    Who wrote the Wiki page?

    Perhaps the prof?

    Or perhaps one of the prof’s former students?

    While it is certainly possible that the prof may have copied the Wiki material, a BIG problem with Wikipedia is its authors often copy text without citing sources, which is why so many of us tell our students to STAY AWAY FROM WIKIPEDIA.

    P.S. Ah…I see the first commenter on the original story makes (in part) the same argument as I have made. He also pokes quite a few holes in the author’s flawed opinion piece.

  2. DM Says:

    Once, I attended a conference in astrophysics. When I came back home, I wanted to find additional information on some of the topics. I hit Google then Wikipedia, and found it surprising to find text and images that matched some of the slides.

    I then hit the “history” tab and had a look at some of the user pages of the people who wrote those Wikipedia entry… it turned out that the astrophysicist who gave the conference was one of them.

    I once met a student in geography who had written a Wikipedia entry on a topic. A professor had graded badly an assignment, claiming she had copied from Wikipedia. The thing is, she had copied from the entry she had written herself. She demonstrated to the professor that she could log in to Wikipedia on the user account who wrote the entry. The professor was vexed.

    So, let’s be prudent before jumping to conclusions.

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