The Proposed new course: Cousera Plagiarism Course | Coursera Community
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The Proposed new course: Cousera Plagiarism Course

  • 28 December 2018
  • 10 replies
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Userlevel 3
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Coursera can teach us about so many things -- from the Cosmos to microscopic organisms -- why don't we add a Plagiarism Course to Coursera? This is NOT an official announcement or thread.

This topic was originally posted yesterday, in the Mentors Only section of the Mentor Training Course @: https://www.coursera.org/learn/mentor-community/discussions/all/threads/cRB_oQl5EemNsgqSGaU9BA?utm_medium=email&utm_source=other&utm_campaign=opencourse.discourse.mentor-community~opencourse.discourse.KDbA8hYREeWCWhKuhISYpw.cRB_oQl5EemNsgqSGaU9BA~SyLRzgo4EemS0Q4U5mc4kg -- you need to be enrolled in the Mentor Training course to view the original thread. I am posting my topic in the Community forum [here], for Beta Testers, hoping to get your insight and ideas; and also to get more exposure and support for my idea. Please reply with your feedback [good, bad, or indifferent], it will be very appreciated. Thank you!

""Plagiarism is the "wrongful appropriation" and "stealing and publication" of another author's "language, thoughts, ideas, or expressions" and the representation of them as one's own original work."" -- quote from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plagiarism

From readings, it seems plagiarism continues to be a concern on Coursera; the impacts are obvious to most of us. So I was thinking, Coursera can teach us about so many things; from the Cosmos to microscopic organisms -- why don't we add a Plagiarism Course to Coursera?

This course will be FREE to ALL learners on the platform, and include a certificate of completion.

So, here are some of my ideas of what would be included in the Course:

(1) The definition of what Plagiarism is.
(2) How to identify Plagiarism.
(3) Best practices for reporting Plagiarism.
(4) Use of online Plagiarism Checkers.
(5) Other online resources about and combating Plagiarism.
(6) The Impacts Plagiarism has on education and the sciences.
(7) At least one worst case example of Plagiarism [significant impact].
(8) A couple most-common instances of Plagiarism in the real-world [common cases].
(9) A few examples of Plagiarism found on Coursera; and it's impact on learners, etc…
(10) Examples of reasons/motives for people to use plagiarism. [Idea submitted by: Judith Gutlerner; thank you!]
(11) Cultural considerations when dealing with Plagiarism. [Idea submitted by: Judith Gutlerner; thank you!]

This course would include at least one peer-graded assignment; at least two preferred: (1) one assignment about Plagiarism itself, and how to report it; (2) Peer-graded essay about the impacts of Plagiarism on education and/or the sciences.

The Coursera Plagiarism Course will be a prerequisite for the Coursera Mentor Training course.

In other words, persons interested in being a Mentor, would have to successfully complete the Coursera Plagiarism course PRIOR to enrolling in the Mentor training course; or, the Plagiarism course would become a part of the Mentor training course.

INCENTIVES FOR LEARNERS TO COMPLETE THE PLAGIARISM COURSE:

In my opinion, to help increase participation, it would be helpful if the Coursera Plagiarism Course provided some incentive to all learners. I feel it would be appropriate for Coursera to offer a one-time discount towards the next certificate course on the platform the learners purchases.

In other words: once a learner has completed the Plagiarism Course successfully, they would get a one-time discount towards a certificate course they choose. A learner passes the Plagiarism Course, and they are interested in taking the Social Psychology course, when they enroll, they would get a one-time discount off of the purchase price for that course to get the certificate.

Perhaps learners would get a 25-50% discount, one time, off their next course?

Learner Pledge?
Though Coursera already has the honor code, and code of conduct; I feel a separate pledge specifically about Plagiarism within the Plagiarism Course would be appropriate. From what we learned from the Social Psychology course, this agreement would be a the top [or beginning] of the course and ask the learner to commit NOT to using Plagiarism; within the Coursera platform AND outside of Coursera. Just an idea...

List of EXISTING resources on the topic of plagiarism on Coursera: https://learner.coursera.help/hc/en-us/articles/360004031371-Check-your-written-assignments-for-plagiarism https://learner.coursera.help/hc/en-us/articles/209818863-Coursera-Honor-Code

I would appreciate anyone's ideas, suggestions, and/or criticisms. Thank You!

(Moved to Ideation forum by @Laura)

10 replies

Userlevel 7
Hi @Kebin. Thank you for taking the time to share this thoughtful suggestion with the community! As someone who cares deeply about ethics, I really like this idea – and your list of suggested course content. One of the challenges I've encountered re: plagiarism is that there are differing perspectives on what constitutes plagiarism and even whether 'some' plagiarism is acceptable if it's done innocently depending on the educational system/educational culture. I didn't locate the cultural considerations post you tagged @Judith in, but I feel this is a very important area to explore in a plagiarism course.

Today I read this piece: The Future of MOOCs Must Be Decolonized and found it extremely important and compelling. And I mention it here because now I am thinking about the idea of plagiarism and to what extent it is a cultural construct, or a Western-centric idea. I haven't studied the topic of plagiarism and I'm sure there are papers out there that explore this topic in depth. But it seems to be quite possible that plagiarism would be a much greater concern in societies that value individualism, as compared to societies that value collective knowledge. I grew up in Western, individualist-focused countries (the USA and Luxembourg) but as an adult I have lived in countries that are more collectivist in nature, such as South Africa, where the concept of ubuntu is embraced: in short, "I am because you are."

Thank you for sparking this reflection and encouraging a conversation around this topic as a course.
Userlevel 3
Badge +3
Hi Laura,

I am very pleased you shared the URL of the article, I agree with it's conclusions and I hope education sources become more diverse; they sorely need too. That site is also interesting; Thank you!

I just shared that article on my linkedin post. It seems that same site is also a good source of other education related information. Thanks for Sharing!

I appreciate your suggests too! I feel that the idea is worth exploring, turning the topic into a course. I agree, there must be considerations in regards to cultural perspectives; I too embrace Ubuntu--as a concept, and as open-source software.

Actually, I used to use Ubuntu on my computer, but I use Manjaro now.

I love the overall concept of Ubuntu; beyond the software context. It is most interesting.

Thank you Laura, have a great night!

I hope someone at Cousera will consider my proposal. Tnx!
Userlevel 5
Badge +4
Hi @Kebin. Thank you for taking the time to share this thoughtful suggestion with the community! As someone who cares deeply about ethics, I really like this idea – and your list of suggested course content. One of the challenges I've encountered re: plagiarism is that there are differing perspectives on what constitutes plagiarism and even whether 'some' plagiarism is acceptable if it's done innocently depending on the educational system/educational culture. I didn't locate the cultural considerations post you tagged @Judith in, but I feel this is a very important area to explore in a plagiarism course.

Today I read this piece: The Future of MOOCs Must Be Decolonized and found it extremely important and compelling. And I mention it here because now I am thinking about the idea of plagiarism and to what extent it is a cultural construct, or a Western-centric idea. I haven't studied the topic of plagiarism and I'm sure there are papers out there that explore this topic in depth. But it seems to be quite possible that plagiarism would be a much greater concern in societies that value individualism, as compared to societies that value collective knowledge. I grew up in Western, individualist-focused countries (the USA and Luxembourg) but as an adult I have lived in countries that are more collectivist in nature, such as South Africa, where the concept of ubuntu is embraced: in short, "I am because you are."

Thank you for sparking this reflection and encouraging a conversation around this topic as a course.


One of the major critiques of moral relativism is that, if everything is relative, then everything basically boils down to arguments that are, more or less, different versions of "well, like, that's just your opinion, man". Essentially, there is no genuine ethics debate to be had once you accept relativism because by accepting relativism you are unable to make any objective claims; all cultures throughout all of time all demonstrate equally valid ways to live.

If however, we take the opposite view (i.e. claim that there is something objective about ethics), then it necessarily follows that some cultures are just inherently worse than others (worse in so far as they fail to live up to some objective 'moral truth').

What does this have to do with plagiarism? The connection I'm making is probably not obvious. But there it is; although I think its perfectly acceptable (desirable, even) to consider the culture of other people sometimes we run the risk of going a bit too far end up leaving ourselves with the inability to say or do anything. Or alternatively we accept that "all cultures are valid" on an intellectual level but end up enforcing our own values anyway (In this particular case notice that Coursera already has taken a stance on plagiarism).

Adding a new course explaining what (the western definition) of plagiarism isn't to take a new stance; it would just be continuing the status quo. In short; a 'eurocentric dogma' is already in place and so its not clear to me how a course explaining plagiarism adds to the discrimination.
Userlevel 7
Interesting points, @hamster. Thanks for taking the time to share your perspective. I suppose my thinking is that covering cultural considerations would enrich understanding of the topic.
Userlevel 5
Badge +4
@Laura

To make the point a bit stronger...

I think I explained the problem with relativism above but I did really hammer home the consequences of taking an objective stance. I'll do that now...

As I stated above, if we take an objective stance, then if follows that some cultures are worse than others. So if claim that "Good people do not cheat" is morally objectively true then it follows that culture X (where few people cheat) is objectively better than Culture Y (where lots of people cheat).

Paul Collier in his book 'exodus' makes the broad point that when people choose to migrate from poor countries, its actually their own culture that they are trying to escape from!

Nigerians cannot get life insurance, for example. The reason being that the level of distrust/corruption in that society means that you can "easily obtain a death certificate without the inconvenience of dying" (page 65). Basically, Nigeria lucks the social structure that an industry such as life insurance actually requires in order to work. In short, the argument is, broadly speaking, one of the reasons Nigeria is so poor is because of the high level of distrust in their society makes them less economically productive than the west. Now, this isn't the only reason Nigeria struggles. And moreover, if we dig a little deeper and ask why there is so much distrust in Nigerian society the answer is largely due to the slave trade and how western powers arbitrarily carved up land with complete disregard of local tribal/cultural boundaries.

Now if we take a relativistic stance then all we can say about Nigeria is that "their culture is just different to ours". But, if we take an objective viewpoint I can say this:

  • It is objectively true that societies with high levels of mutual regard (i.e. trust) are preferable.
  • Nigeria has lower levels of trust than Sweden.
  • Therefore, we should prefer Swedish culture.
I realise that saying stuff like this is not 'politically correct' but I think the logic is clear; the moment you define ideals you can rank countries and cultures by their accordance with those stated ideals. And by virtue of comparison it transpires some are going to be worse than others. We can, of course, debate what the objective standards are/ought to be.

----

Now, with regard to plagiarism, if I make the claim "Good students do not cheat" then societies where more students fall foul of this rule and be said to worse than those societies where students generally abide by the rule. And now we are just a few small steps from the conclusion:

  1. "Good students do not cheat"
  2. We should encourage all of the worlds citizens to live up rule (1)
  3. Plagiarism is cheating
  4. Good students do not therefore plagiarise work
  5. Therefore, we should encourage students to submit their own work.
Now all of these premises can be challenged. You might say for instance "plagiarism isn't considered cheating in culture X therefore these students are doing nothing wrong" and so therefore this list ethnocentric.

Under cultural relativism my only reason would have to be "well, we shall just have to agree to disagree".

But, if we believe that there is something objectively true about rule (1), then I can simply reply: "Culture X is (as measured against this particular metric) is just bad. Instead of respecting culture differences, we should instead aim to teach them to live and learn according to rule (1)".

Notice also that Residents of Culture X could construct a similar argument with the exact opposite conclusion. And should they do that the debate then centres around the idea of what is "objectively true" about education; both parties implicitly agree that a 'gold standard' exists, we just disagree on what that standard actually is.

To summarise two posts my overall conclusion is that:

  1. Coursera has already taken a stance on plagiarism. An explanatory course does not add to the 'cultural discrimination'.
  2. There are objective ideals which we should all aspire to. We should not dismiss or downplay these ideals because some other cultures out there like to do things differently. And by "differently", I actually mean "wrongly".
Userlevel 3
Badge +3
Hello hamster,

I agree with some of your points; however, I was not intending to evaluate the concept of plagiarism with an international context to condemn cultures who embrace.

Only to discuss the topic in a way to help prevent people from getting into trouble for using it in the countries that look down on it.

Regardless of my personal philosophies, I do not have a problem with other cultures who embrace plagiarism; as I understand it, in some cultures it's considered flattering to have someone 'copy' your work.

I do appreciate the deep philosophical perspective that you presented.

It will do nothing but add to the discussion; which is intended. Thank you!
Userlevel 5
Badge +4
[...] Only to discuss the topic in a way to help prevent people from getting into trouble for using it in the countries that look down on it.

Regardless of my personal philosophies, I do not have a problem with other cultures who embrace plagiarism; as I understand it, in some cultures it's considered flattering to have someone 'copy' your work.


Regarding your first paragraph. I genuinely think a plagiarism course could be useful to a wide number of "western" students. Indeed, lots of universities teach this sort of stuff in the first year because its a common problem. So if there was the purported aim of the course I'd fully support it.

Regarding your second paragraph this is where things get a bit murky. On the one hand I suspect that most students that do plagiarise work probably do not consider their actions to be immortal or cheating. So, for that reason, the solution is probably education and awareness.

But again, the problem with a global platform is that we cannot really cater for everyone; if Coursera is lenient with regards to blatant plagiarism then the platform struggles to "sell" the merit of courses (especially certification) to employer's and universities (e.g if it is easy to cheat, then universities are less likely to offer credit for coursera courses).But if the platform enforces western academic standards and ideals then the risk is alienating a large proportion users across the globe. I do not offer a solution.

Anyway, long story short I think a plagiarism course is a good idea and if we want to be sensitive to others cultures the lecturer could easily add a video about "global attitudes toward plagiarism". I'd wager that's a compromise that could make everyone happy.
Badge +1

I agree. We need such a course 

Badge +1

I believe not to beat the dead horse on this topic of plagiarism, an culture is what people do based on their country’s history, customs, etc. And I believe Coursera has adults learning and people can read the Coursera Honor Code and ask questions if they need clarifications, which people can read in the forums. It’s not like students do not cheat in the U.S. in other ways including plagiarism since they have learned from the adults to wing stuff without putting time and effort to do the real work, etc. People should learn according to their level, etc. Think indirectly/directly. They can cheat online easily by just contacting each other to collaborate on whatever they want in private. How do you know? There’s no way you can just repeat a dirty list of examples and people would do over and over again if they do not get caught. And people know about these issues because they go online and take these courses that have these kinds of Honor Code, etc. in addition to their own countries’ Honor Code, which are similar in terms of academics, etc. But if leadership does not practic what they say, you cannot expect others to follow. And we also have our own issues with “ethic or moral issues" in this country with favoritism/gaming th system and failure of leadership. Bs admin work is also dependent and not like Jane Eyre who actually studied studiously with research and writing her own writings, etc. Like somehow, women with more women lawyers, more women’s center in academia and non-profits, etc. there’s still prostitution in NYC, massage pallors in Florida scandal, etc. And somehow, sexual harassment has been swept under the rug in Hollywood, corporate America, etc. like Eyes Wide Shut until I wrote those essays in 2017. Also, issues like mass killing, opioids, etc. that are created by society in this age of modern wonderful democracy of ours in a civil society with rule of law. And also killing people softly/hardly, etc.

 

I do not need to take a course like this. It’s not a good use of my time. If you work in th sciences, they also tell you specificallly related to them. And these people ar educated with their advanced science degrees so they should know better, etc. No issues so it’s just another course for people who really have been living under a rock. Or young people who should not been learning on online places like Coursera with other well-trained and well-educated instructors. Everyone knows that you should write your code or paper for submission, which is clearly written in the Honor Code. Jane Austen knew this back then too, etc. That’s why people ask for proof of work, concept, etc. for more difficult stuff in non-online situations. Since it’s online, there’s no way you can verify everyone, etc. but they all have to accept to the Honor Code. It’s like beating the horse to death.

Badge +2

Coursera can teach us about so many things -- from the Cosmos to microscopic organisms -- why don't we add a Plagiarism Course to Coursera? This is NOT an official announcement or thread.

This topic was originally posted yesterday, in the Mentors Only section of the Mentor Training Course @: https://www.coursera.org/learn/mentor-community/discussions/all/threads/cRB_oQl5EemNsgqSGaU9BA?utm_medium=email&utm_source=other&utm_campaign=opencourse.discourse.mentor-community~opencourse.discourse.KDbA8hYREeWCWhKuhISYpw.cRB_oQl5EemNsgqSGaU9BA~SyLRzgo4EemS0Q4U5mc4kg -- you need to be enrolled in the Mentor Training course to view the original thread. I am posting my topic in the Community forum [here], for Beta Testers, hoping to get your insight and ideas; and also to get more exposure and support for my idea. Please reply with your feedback [good, bad, or indifferent], it will be very appreciated. Thank you!

""Plagiarism is the "wrongful appropriation" and "stealing and publication" of another author's "language, thoughts, ideas, or expressions" and the representation of them as one's own original work."" -- quote from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plagiarism

From readings, it seems plagiarism continues to be a concern on Coursera; the impacts are obvious to most of us. So I was thinking, Coursera can teach us about so many things; from the Cosmos to microscopic organisms -- why don't we add a Plagiarism Course to Coursera?

This course will be FREE to ALL learners on the platform, and include a certificate of completion.

So, here are some of my ideas of what would be included in the Course:

(1) The definition of what Plagiarism is.
(2) How to identify Plagiarism.
(3) Best practices for reporting Plagiarism.
(4) Use of online Plagiarism Checkers.
(5) Other online resources about and combating Plagiarism.
(6) The Impacts Plagiarism has on education and the sciences.
(7) At least one worst case example of Plagiarism [significant impact].
(8) A couple most-common instances of Plagiarism in the real-world [common cases].
(9) A few examples of Plagiarism found on Coursera; and it's impact on learners, etc…
(10) Examples of reasons/motives for people to use plagiarism. [Idea submitted by: Judith Gutlerner; thank you!]
(11) Cultural considerations when dealing with Plagiarism. [Idea submitted by: Judith Gutlerner; thank you!]

This course would include at least one peer-graded assignment; at least two preferred: (1) one assignment about Plagiarism itself, and how to report it; (2) Peer-graded essay about the impacts of Plagiarism on education and/or the sciences.

The Coursera Plagiarism Course will be a prerequisite for the Coursera Mentor Training course.

In other words, persons interested in being a Mentor, would have to successfully complete the Coursera Plagiarism course PRIOR to enrolling in the Mentor training course; or, the Plagiarism course would become a part of the Mentor training course.

INCENTIVES FOR LEARNERS TO COMPLETE THE PLAGIARISM COURSE:

In my opinion, to help increase participation, it would be helpful if the Coursera Plagiarism Course provided some incentive to all learners. I feel it would be appropriate for Coursera to offer a one-time discount towards the next certificate course on the platform the learners purchases.

In other words: once a learner has completed the Plagiarism Course successfully, they would get a one-time discount towards a certificate course they choose. A learner passes the Plagiarism Course, and they are interested in taking the Social Psychology course, when they enroll, they would get a one-time discount off of the purchase price for that course to get the certificate.

Perhaps learners would get a 25-50% discount, one time, off their next course?

Learner Pledge?
Though Coursera already has the honor code, and code of conduct; I feel a separate pledge specifically about Plagiarism within the Plagiarism Course would be appropriate. From what we learned from the Social Psychology course, this agreement would be a the top [or beginning] of the course and ask the learner to commit NOT to using Plagiarism; within the Coursera platform AND outside of Coursera. Just an idea...

List of EXISTING resources on the topic of plagiarism on Coursera: https://learner.coursera.help/hc/en-us/articles/360004031371-Check-your-written-assignments-for-plagiarism https://learner.coursera.help/hc/en-us/articles/209818863-Coursera-Honor-Code

I would appreciate anyone's ideas, suggestions, and/or criticisms. Thank You!

(Moved to Ideation forum by@Laura)

Hi, Wish if you could share the link for enrolling into this course/program. Thanks & Regards

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