Analyzing Scope Creep

March 3, 2014 Leave a comment

We recently hosted conferences for almost 2,000 individuals without a complete project plan. As a result, the scope grew and so did the price tag. There were travel costs, food, we double booked – and had to pay for audiovisual resources. You name it, we experienced it. However Van Rekom (nd) indicated saying “no” could mitigate creep. Unfortunately I work in a culture where we don’t say no.

Additionally, the objectives for this conference were not commonly agreed upon and there were several suggestions for procedures and activities outside the original objective.

While I agree change control systems can help a project manager monitor scope creep, I also believe beginning with a thorough project plan and constant communication can mitigate scope creep. Additionally, our text indicated project managers should be ready or prepared for changes in project scope. This is true and requires a project manager to be flexible, identify impacts of changes, and communicate the advantages and disadvantages of the change. (Portny, Mantel, Meredith, Shafer, Sutton, & Kramer, 2008) For example, I recently had a request to significantly alter a project. Using lessons from our text, I was able to explain how the change would delay the project, cost more money, and jeopardize an on-time delivery.

Works cited

Portny, S. E., Mantel, S. J., Meredith, J. R., Shafer, S. M., Sutton, M. M., & Kramer, B. E. (2008). Project management: Planning, scheduling, and controlling projects. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Van Rekom, P. (nd). Practitioner Voices: Overcoming ‘Scope Creep. Laureate Education, Inc., Baltimore, MD

Categories: Walden 6145 Tags:

Communicating Effectively

March 3, 2014 Leave a comment

I have a responsibility as a project manager (PM) to try to communicate effectively with various members of my team and key stakeholders. This requires diplomacy. My communications should be concise and focused and they should be influenced by my spirit, attitude, timing, and the personality of recipients.  (Laureate Education, Inc.)

With that said, I’d like to share my reactions to our multimedia presentation on communications that shared the same request for status and deliverables – in three different modalities. They were E-mail, voicemail and face-to-face.

The e-mail message to Mark, while not marked urgent, conveyed a need for an immediate response.

The voicemail message was direct, calm, and offered Mark an e-mail option for sending requested data.

While the face-to-face message was friendly, it did not convey the same level of urgency. It almost seemed Mark’s data was a request rather than a necessity.

Concluding, I believe a PM should communicate with team members to discern their communication preferences. For example, some stakeholders may respond to informal communications, yet pre-planned interactions are required. (Portny, Mantel, Meredith, Shafer, Sutton & Kramer, 2008)

All pre-planned communications should be delivered with a prescribed frequency, an understood time frame for responses, and clear rules of participation. (Laureate Education, Inc.)

Works cited

Portny, S. E., Mantel, S. J., Meredith, J. R., Shafer, S. M., Sutton, M. M., & Kramer, B. E. (2008). Project management: Planning, scheduling, and controlling projects. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Stolovich, H. (nd) Communicating with Stakeholders. Laureate Education, Inc., Baltimore, MD.

 

Categories: Walden 6145

Learning from a Project “ Post-mortem”

February 25, 2014 1 comment

First, I agree with the notion a project “post-mortem” analysis should ideally allow project team members to review the success and failures of a project in a way that improves future methods and practices, rather than point fingers. This sort of analysis is valuable because it can refine practices. (Collier, DeMarco, & Fearey, 1996)

Many organizations are averse to discussing and documenting their failures and areas of improvement. Hence experts recommend team members agree to a defined “post-mortem” process before the project starts. This defined process helps participants interact with and/or develop documented, well-understood procedures, establish communications that expose findings without compromising team members, assure teammates the process is blame free, and connect the “post-mortem” experience to returns on investment of future projects. Finally, “post-mortems” can be therapeutic or cathartic by allowing team members to vent. (Collier et al., 1996)

I’ve never been part of a formal “post-mortem” but I have been in recent meetings where we discussed a project’s shortcomings or challenges. These meetings were face-to-face and did not include a survey element to elicit sensitive comments or feedback from less-vocal team members. (Greer, 2010)

Again, this meeting was not formal but every phase-specific post-mortem review category was addressed. These phases included:

  • Determine Need and Feasibility
  • Create Project Plan
  • Create Specifications for Deliverables
  • Create Deliverables
  • Test and Implement Deliverables (Greer, 2010)

My most recent meeting was about a project deemed unsuccessful because it was not delivered on time. Unfortunately, we realized part of its failure was linked to pressure to adhere to standards not outlined in the original statement of work.

We’d contracted with a vendor to build an eight-module course related to leadership competencies. Not only was the January 16 deadline missed – we are still waiting on the deliverable.

We had conference call to review the status and a few interesting aspects surfaced from both client and vendor regarding project artifacts and activities that might have made the project more successful. Unfortunately, there were several constraints.

First, we experienced delays with the approval of the statement of work (SOW). This delayed our start date.

Second, our project plan or blueprint was broad and we never had a kickoff meeting of all key team members.

Third, we (the client) and the vendor, both succumbed to the pitfall of backing in to the schedule. We were both given a due date from our operational manager/project champion and were expected to identify activities and estimate their durations. We focused more on the time constraint than the required work. (Portny, Mantel, Meredith, Shafer, Sutton, & Kramer, 2008)

Fourth, we never did any “Phase 1” research or polling as recommended by Greer (2010) to determine how our constituents would benefit from the course.

As we progressed, we received early-warning signs our product would not be delivered on time when our vendor did not send an e-mail or call on an expected “milestone” date. Additionally, the vendor e-mailed a link to the course draft to our operational manager. Our operational manager was on the road and tied to use their iPad to view the course was not able to. While we’d discussed creating an adaptive tablet version, this was scheduled for “phase 2.” Our operational manager, after that experience, demanded we design for tablets including iOS. This was not in our original scope of work. Our vendor is now updating the course specifications to be amenable to tablets and Macintosh operating systems. This requires more time. We gave our operations manager a copy of the SOW that listed tablet adaptation for “Phase 2,” however in the future, we will require her written signature of acknowledgement.

responsive-design-alone-not-mobile-seo
(Martin, 2012)

Another issue that hampered this project and contributed to our delay was our learning management software cannot accommodate Flash or FLV files. This was not specified in our requirements but is necessary for broad content delivery. Our vendor now is converting all FLV files to MPEG 4 video to accommodate a broad range of access.

Finally, this project fell victim to a lack of administrative considerations. We needed to film several individuals for the course. We allotted two days for filming, yet we did not consider the time it would take to schedule each person. They had to clear their schedules, check personal and professional commitments, and then fly into our location. Our project schedule also landed across the Thanksgiving holiday weekend when many project team members were unavailable.

Concluding, I’d say a lack of management understanding of the SOW that yielded last-minute changes in requirements and our underestimation of the value and time required by administrative tasks resulted in the failure of this project.

Works cited:

Collier, B., DeMarco, T., & Fearey, P., (1996). Defined Process for Project Postmortem Review. IEEE Software. Retrieved from http://www.csee.umbc.edu/courses/undergraduate/345/spring12/mitchell/readings/aDefinedProcessForProjectPostMortemReview.pdf

Greer, M. (2010). The Project Management Minimalist: Just enough PM to rock your projects! Laureate Custom ed. Baltimore: Laureate Education, Inc.

Martin, M. (2012). Responsive Design Alone Is Not Mobile SEO. Search Engine Land. [Illustration] Retrieved from http://searchengineland.com/responsive-design-alone-is-not-mobile-seo-124202

Portny, S. E., Mantel, S. J., Meredith, J. R., Shafer, S. M., Sutton, M. M., & Kramer, B. E. (2008). Project management: Planning, scheduling, and controlling projects. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Categories: Walden 6145

Reflection: Learning Theories in Education

July 1, 2013 Leave a comment

I’d like to reflect on what I have learned and how I can apply it as an instructional designer.

This course focused on learning theories. Regardless of their names, all theories serve as frameworks for conducting research, organizing specific pieces of information, demonstrating the complexity and subtly of events, and finally bringing new insights to situations. (Ormrod, Schunk & Gredler, 2009)

Based on what we’ve studied, I’ve come to believe learning theories are connected in three ways.

  1. They all are formally considered theories when they specifically illustrate the theorist’s basic beliefs, explicitly define key terms, and provide assumptions that can be tested via research.  (Ormrod, Schunk & Gredler, 2009)
  2. The can morph or support subsequent theories and generalizations (Ormrod, Schunk & Gredler, 2009)
  3. They can guide, based on the content and delivery, an instructional designers approach to teaching and learning (Kerr, 2009)

I’ve also learned there is no “one-size-fits-all” reference for learning theories. While outdated, I believe theories like behaviorism can be applicable. For example, telling my child to say, “You’re Welcome” after someone says, “Thank you.”

When she was younger, it was a response. As she became older should could cognitively process the logic behind the exchange and subsequently initiate the phrase “Thank you.”

I also believe social learning theory and connectivism are buoys for – and buoyed by — online learning environments. They promote fast-changing networks of information that are evolving with the shortest half-lives we’ve seen in decades. (Davis, Edmunds, Kelly-Bateman) Half-life has not shrunk in all areas but Milton (2013) wrote learners are most competitive when they have the most valid knowledge. Hanging on to old knowledge or information past its half-life is potentially dangerous.

What I found most striking as I studied these theories was the amazing body of work focusing on how people think. We spent an entire eight weeks steeped in metacognition or thinking about thinking. (Laureate Education, Inc., n.d.)

The chapter on neuroscience was fascinating.  I thought it was particularly interesting that declaring something simple and singular as my home address or phone number could simultaneously involve information retrieval from multiple areas of my brain. (Ormrod, Schunk & Gredler, 2009)

Also during this course, I realized my personal learning process had been formed by factors that were environmental, social, cultural – even biological. (Ormrod, Schunk & Gredler, 2009)

Learning about Howard Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences has helped me to appreciate the cognitive strengths or acumens of humans and understand the positive or negative impacts of physical and social environments to support or curtail them.

Concluding, as I move forward in my career as an instructional designer I fully intend to:

Design all instruction based on my knowledge of learning theories. Additionally, I will be cognizant of how the brain works to acquire, store, and retrieve information. I will couple the former with sensitivity to humans’ multiple intelligences.

It is my intention moving forward to apply the best practices for engaging and motivating students to successfully acquire new knowledge or behaviors.

References

Armstrong, T. (2009). Multiple intelligences in the classroom (3rd ed.). Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

Davis, C., Edmunds, E., & Kelly-Bateman, V. (2008). Connectivism. In M. Orey (Ed.), Emerging perspectives on learning, teaching, and technology. Retrieved from http://projects.coe.uga.edu/epltt/index.php?title=Connectivism

Kerr, B. (2007, January 1). _isms as filter, not blinker. [Blog]. Retrieved from http://billkerr2.blogspot.com/2007/01/isms-as-filter-not-blinker.html

Milton, N. (2013, January 14) The shrinking half-life of knowledge. Knocko Stories: From the Knowledge Management Front Line. [Weblog]. Retrieved from http://www.nickmilton.com/2013/01/the-shrinking-half-life-of-knowledge.html

Ormrod, J. (nd). Information Processing and Problem Solving. Laureate Education, Inc., Baltimore, MD.

Ormrod, J., Schunk, D., & Gredler, M. (2009). Learning theories and instruction (Laureate custom edition). New York: Pearson.

Categories: Walden 6115

Fitting the Pieces Together

June 28, 2013 Leave a comment

I initially wrote my learning style reflected behaviorist, cognitive, and constructivist theories. I have a deeper understanding of each of the afore-mentioned theories, however, I don’t think my core styles have changed.

In fact I believe Bill Kerr (2007) supported my notion of subscribing to multiple theories when he said learning theories or “isms” evolve. They don’t stand still. Ideally, people grow and expand also.

Finally, I still believe learning objectives can help instructional designers determine the best applied theory to guide instruction.

I mentioned earlier that my understanding of learning theories and styles had grown over the past seven weeks. When it comes to my personal learning preferences, I must say I was surprised when realized I respond to connectivism and embraced adult learning theory. For example, I’m an introvert. I am reluctant to chat with peers in face-to-face environments. Yet, my education online is facilitated by technology and social networks. (Laureate Education, Inc., n.d.) I’d like to share a true scenario of connectivist learning. My textbooks for another Walden course have not arrived. I reached out to the professor for advice. She said, I shouldn’t wait for the books to be delivered. Instead she suggested I contact other students in the lounge and ask them to copy the chapter and send it to me or better yet, we could read it together via Skype or Google Hang Out. Again, I want to emphasize the speed. Fed Ex can deliver my learning materials quickly, but today’s technology is even more agile and flexible. (Laureate Education, Inc., n.d.)

As an adult learner, I appreciate activities that require us to share our actual experiences as they relate to instruction. (Conlan, Grabowski & Smith, 2008)

Concluding, I’d like to discuss technology’s impact on my overall learning. I mentioned technology above with regard to connectivism but the pace of this course and the amount of data we received forced me to embrace technology in new ways. (Laureate Education, Inc., n.d.) I will outline two.

First, I’ve had to expand my personal knowledge of learning possibilities and technology tools. I had never heard of an “eBrary” and experienced the concept of borrowing books for eReaders prior to studying at Walden.

Second, I had one course application that allowed students to use a range of tools e.g. PowerPoint or Flash to create a product. I used the tools I knew, but the exercise of having to review the products of my peers exposed me even more. The process also expanded my zone of proximal developments – whereas I knew how to create a PowerPoint, but my more technically-savvy peers showed me how to put the PowerPoint on YouTube.

Works cited:

Conlan, J., Grabowski, S., & Smith, K. (2003). Adult learning. In M. Orey (Ed.), Emerging perspectives on learning, teaching, and technology. Retrieved from http://projects.coe.uga.edu/epltt/index.php?title=Adult_Learning

Kerr, B. (2007, January 1). _isms as filter, not blinker. [Blog]. Retrieved from http://billkerr2.blogspot.com/2007/01/isms-as-filter-not-blinker.html

Siemens, G. (nd) Connectivism.” Laureate Inc. Baltimore, MD

Categories: Walden 6115

Connectivism

June 11, 2013 Leave a comment

Sheala Durant
EDUC 6115-1

Connectivism: Mapping Your Learning Connections

The theory of connectivism combines chaos theory, learning networks, and self organization. (Davis, Edmunds, Kelly-Bateman, 2008)

According to connectivist theorists such as George Siemens, Ph.D., learning resides in:

  • Acceptance of diverse opinions
  • Connection of specialized information sources
  • Use of electronic tools
  • Knowledge that learners have to capacity to know more that they are currently exposed to
  • Maintenance of connections for continued learning
  • Accuracy and currency of content and learning activities

Behaviorism, cognitivism, and constructivism were fine models for understanding how humans acquired knowledge and behaviors. However recent technological advances have forced learners to process and apply knowledge in new ways. This knowledge must be processed quickly and must be fluid. For example, the right answer today may change tomorrow based on the climate affecting decisions. (DEK, 2008)

George Siemens, PhD., in a resource video indicated technologies such as social media would fuel the acceptance of distance learning (Laureate Education, Inc., n.d.)

I support his notion because today’s learner has practical experience with new tools, growing comfort with online discourse, and the ability to communicate with diverse global groups. (Laureate Education, Inc., n.d.) We are able to learn via our connections. They represent a nexus of our prior knowledge and experience as well as our perception and reality. (DEK, 2008)

For example,

I rely on my social networks for acquiring new personal and professional skills. I also use these dialogue with new with subject matter experts.

These networks include e-newsletters such as IconLogic (http://www.iconlogic.com/), DC Web Women (http://www.dcwebwomen.com) and eLearning Guild (http://www.elearningguild.com). My network also supports topic-specific groups on Yahoo, GroupSites, Yammer, LinkedIn, and Facebook. For example, I belong to a Yahoo group on digital journalism, a GroupSite for local women entrepreneurs, a Yammer site for my workplace, several LinkedIn groups including industry and alumni affiliations, and a Facebook group or minority adoptees. I also rely on blogs for personal support examples include D.C. Thrifty Mom and A Parent in Silver Spring.

Each of these groups allows me to ask a specific question and receive answers and support from peers who may know more about the topic than I. This expands my zone of proximal development.

Finally, Siemens in a resource video, also mentioned the importance of visualization. It allows learners to see levels of connection and map concepts. I’ve inserted a “mind map” below that outlines my learning network.

20130610_1jdcj6my

Works cited:

Conlan, J., Grabowski, S., & Smith, K (2003). Adult learning. In M. Orey (Ed.), Emerging perspectives on learning, teaching, and technology. Retrieved from http://projects.coe.uga.edu/epitt/index.php?title=Adult_Learning

Siemens, G. (2010). The Future of Distance Education. Laureate Education, Inc., Baltimore, MD

Siemens, G. (nd). Connectivism. Laureate Education, Inc., Baltimore, MD

Categories: Walden 6115

Evaluating and identifying Online Resources

May 20, 2013 Leave a comment

Luckily, neither the University library system nor popular Internet search engines lacked published materials on the brain and learning and problem-solving methods.

I chose two articles to discuss. One dealt with brain-based learning. The other outlined processes for problem solving.

Eric Jensen (2000) strongly cautioned educators against strictly following brain-based research. He said it could lead to bad teaching. This article outlined several myths about brain-based learning and offered tangible advice for applying brain research in the classroom.

One of the myths was brain-based research could be used to justify good teaching strategies. Jensen (2000) said good teaching was a combination — not of research — but of basic psychology, common sense, and trial and error.

Brain-based research was acceptable to Jensen (2000) only if it  was used to help educators make intentional teaching decisions, not run schools based solely the brain’s biology.

Another article I found helpful was the University of Pennsylvania’s (n.d.) Seven Steps to Problem Solving. The seven steps included:

  1. Defining the problem
  2. Analyzing the problem
  3. Identifying possible solutions
  4. Selecting optimal solutions
  5. Evaluating solutions
  6. Developing action plans
  7. Implementing solutions

This article was helpful because it outlined techniques for performing each of the problem-solving tasks above. For example, when defining a problem, a learner must first be able to understand the difference between hard and soft data or facts vs. opinions. (University of Pennsylvania, n.d.)

When it came to analysis, learners were encouraged to view problems from several viewpoints.

The article also identified strategies for identifying solutions that included brainstorming, focus groups, nominal groups, and application of Delphi methods.

Additionally, learners were given methods for evaluating solutions. These options included t-charts that measured pros and cons as well as weighing and prioritizing criteria.

Implementation was the final step in the process. However strict monitoring of the implementation process and contingency plans were recommended. (University of Pennsylvania, n.d.)

Works cited

Jensen, E. (2000). Brain-Based Learning: A Reality Check. Educational Leadership, 57(7), 76.

University of Pennsylvania. (nd). Seven Steps to Problem Solving. Retrieved from http://www.pitt.edu/~groups/probsolv.html

Categories: Walden 6115

The Doorway to Professional Learning Communities

May 13, 2013 Leave a comment

Sheala Durant
EDUC-6115-1

I will briefly outline three e-Learning blogs and explain why Instructional Design students might find them helpful.

The Rapid E-Learning blog
http://www.articulate.com/rapid-elearning/

This blog is written by Tom Kuhlmann for members of the Articulate-user community. However, his choice of topics is germane to all instructional designers regardless of software. For example recent posts included ways to improve instructional design skills, debates on whether instructional design degrees were helpful, and ways to create eLearning templates. Finally, Kuhlmann’s blog had distinct categories including:

  • Scenarios for E-Learning
  • Project management for E-Learning
  • Graphic Design and Visuals, and
  • Audio. (Kuhlmann, 2013)

The eLearning Coach
http://theelearningcoach.com/

This e-Learning blog is written by Connie Malamed. She offers practical tips for instructional designers on a range of topics. For example, she recently covered tools for capturing knowledge from subject matter experts, ways to gather visual ideas, and how to adapt in-person trainings into virtual ones. Additionally, Malamed offers “freebies” that include storyboard templates, glossaries, and even a listing of Master’s degree programs in Instructional Design. Walden’s program was on her list. (Malamed, 2013)

E-Learning 24/7
http://elearninfo247.com/

Craig Weiss’ blog is different from the previous two. He focuses on product trends and industry forecasts. He presents regularly at international conferences.  According to his own blog entry, his projections have been more than 90 percent accurate. Many of his recent posts were focused on Learning Management Systems. He discussed LMS user complaints, LMS “ecosystems,” and LMS communities. (Weiss, 2013)

Works cited:

Kuhlmann, T. (2013). The Rapid E-Learning Blog [Blog]. Retrieved from http://www.articulate.com/rapid-elearning/

Malamed, C. (2013). The eLearning Coach [Blog]. Retrieved from http://theelearningcoach.com/

Weiss, C. (2013). E-Learning 24/7 [Blog]. Retrieved from http://elearninfo247.com/

Categories: Walden 6115

Engaging The Passive Learner Online

October 18, 2012 2 comments

Collaborative learning environments help students expand and deepen their knowledge. In fact, our resources indicate several approaches to community creation and outline distinct stages of learner interaction. We also know from our resources there are challenges to creating online communities that students perceive as trusting and active. Simply assigning students a collaborative activity such as an online discussion or placing them in a group does not guarantee all will participate.

By Tuesday:

  • Explain why each student’s participation is important to the online learning community.
  • Describe techniques or strategies an instructor could employ to engage students who lurk in discussions or do not participate in collaborative projects/teams?
  • Recount how you were affected by a peer’s lack of participation within a learning community.

Be sure to cite information from the Learning Resources to support your comments.

By Saturday:

Read through your peers’ posts and respond to at least two. Your response should expand on something a peer said, explain a divergent point of view, ask a question, or offer a personal experience.

Return to this discussion periodically to read responses to your initial posting. Think about what you learned in this discussion.

Additional resource:

An, H. Kim, S., & Kim, B. (2008) Teacher Perspectives on Online Collaborative Learning: Factors Perceived as Facilitating and Impeding Successful Online Group Work. Contemporary Issues in Technology and Teacher Education, 8(1), 65-83. Retrieved from http://www.editlib.org/p/24290/article_24290.pdf&sa=X&scisig=AAGBfm2K9eBrKGUVmhv0j6PFxB5rbhc0OQ&oi=scholarr

The following rubric will be used to assess your submissions.

Criteria for Evaluating Discussion Board Assignments

Quality standards Exemplary  = 3  Good = 2 Needs Improvement = 1
Contributions to the Learning Community The learner’s contribution meets all assigned criteria and frequently expands the discussion topic.The learner takes an active role in discussions. The learner’s contribution satisfactorily meets the assigned criteria for contributions to the discussion topic.The learner interacts frequently within the community. The learner makes minimal or no contribution to the discussion topic.The learner makes occasional or no comments.
Initial Posting: Critical Analysis of Issues Demonstrates critical thinking to analyze and relate key points.Supports content with required readings or course materials, and other creditable sources. Relates to the assigned discussion topic with satisfactory evidence of critical thinking.Summarizes and supports content using information from required readings and course materials. Summarizes or restates discussion topic components with minimal evidence of critical thinking skills.Post has minimal or no connection to course materials.
Responses: Quality of Learning for Colleagues and Self Provides specific, constructive, and supportive feedback to extend colleagues’ thinking.Offers additional resources or experiences. Provides constructive and supportive feedback to colleagues.Refer to sources from required readings and course materials. Provides general feedback with minimal or no connection to required readings or course materials.Demonstrate minimal evidence of personal learning as a result of interaction with colleagues.
Expression Provides clear, concise opinions and ideas effectively written in Standard Edited English.Includes appropriate APA-formatted citations and reference list. Provides clear opinions and ideas written in Standard Edited English.Includes satisfactory APA-formatted citations and reference list. Expression is unclear or interrupted by errors.Includes minimal or no APA-formatted citations and reference list.
Categories: WALDEN 6511

Plagiarism Detection and Prevention

August 14, 2012 Leave a comment

Plagiarism involves students deliberately using another’s prose, ideas, or other materials without acknowledgement. Many times, the student’s intent is to present these works or parts of them as their own original material. Contingencies for measuring plagiarism include degree of culpability and intentionality. (Jocoy, C. & DiBiase, D. 2006) Some students based on their moral values will cheat if they don’t think they will be caught or reprimanded. Dr. Rena Palloff, in our course video, indicated other students may not understand their behavior is plagiaristic. (Paloff, R. & Pratt, K. n.d.) The former students may need consistent review and policy enforcement. The latter students may simply need to be educated. I’ll discuss both aspects as part of this post. Additionally, I’ll examine modern methods for detecting plagiarism strategies for mitigating it.

While the Internet has made it easier for students to commit cut-and-paste plagiarism, software seems to have caught up. For example, the Essay Verification Engine can compare student papers to essay databases and find matching passages. Turnitin, used here at Walden, is a subscription-based online detection service. Finally, free search engines including Google or Yahoo can also be used to detect plagiarism. (Jocoy & DiBiase, 2006)

Researchers Jacoy & DiBiase (2006) found some tools inconsistent in their results reporting – even of the same/resubmitted document. Turnitin for example analyzes papers and calculates the percentage of copied material. The caveat is that Turnitin cannot distinguish between plagiarized text and properly-cited quotations and references. While not perfect, Jocoy and DiBiase (2006) contend these tools are still better than manual detection especially for copy-and-paste forms of plagiarism.

We know software can detect plagiarism, however, Drs. Palloff and Pratt in a course video said online environments were not the best places to administer tests. Instead, they suggested ways to design assessments that reduce or deter plagiarism. Course projects and assignments that mirrored the real work world and required students to chat with peers or look up references were preferred. (Palloff & Pratt, n.d.) Researchers found open book tests and teamwork did not automatically reduce the effectiveness of exams or applications. In fact they demonstrated a student’s mastery of a concept and its application. Dr. Keith Pratt reiterated “real life situations often require research.” (Palloff & Pratt, n.d.)

As an instructor, I would address facilitation in the manner of a well-trained police officer during a routine traffic stop.  Many will start their interrogation with a phrase such as “Ma’am do you know why I stopped you?” This is usually followed by their explanation of the violation. This scenario also reminds me of the approach outlined by (Jocoy & DiBiase, 2006). They said it was helpful for students to receive feedback on their infraction. Therefore, if I were facilitating as a future instructor, I would help students who plagiarized on their first assignment by explaining the violation. I’d include links to the source(s) of their copied passage as recommended by our resource and I’d allow them to revise and resubmit their work. I would not penalize them. (Jocoy & DiBiase, 2006)

I’ve been both sides of the plagiarism “fence” so I believe I have sensitivity to the issue and can offer specific considerations based on my experiences. I’ll outline two real-life scenarios followed by my recommendations as a future online instructor.

I had taken an economics class as a junior at my university. The instructor was handing out graded papers. I approached her to take mine and noticed two grades written at the top “A/F.” I asked, “What does this mean? “ She replied “This is an “A” paper, but there’s no way someone from your socio-economic background could have written it. I was 19 years old. I left the building and walked across campus wondering, “Who does she think wrote this paper?” “She doesn’t know me. Why should she make assumptions about my ability based on my background?” My final and catalytic thought was “She’s got to be kidding me.” I explained my situation to my academic advisor who sent me to the head of the department. I arrived at my appointment with several dozen 3×5 note cards (We didn’t have Zotero then), each containing a point, or thought, and relevant citations. Additionally, I brought marked-up rough drafts of the original paper.  Within a week, I received an “A” grade.

Years later I found myself in the opposite situation. I was teaching a junior level course at a state university. The assigned topic was around an aspect of typography. The student turned in a paper but large portions were inconsistent and changed “tone.”  The Internet was relatively new then. Yahoo may have been the main player among search engines. I started to look up passages from her paper and found them on the Internet. Students had to sign the school’s academic integrity policy. Based on the policy, I was supposed to report her, but I tacitly got permission from a department official to take a sort of “don’t ask, don’t tell” approach. Similar to Dr. Rena Palloff’s suggestion, I confronted her “offline” or privately. (Palloff & Pratt, n.d.) I told the student I knew the work wasn’t hers and she would receive no credit for this paper in exchange for my not reporting the incident. She never marched back into my office with note cards or drafts – and I never noticed any evidence of plagiarism in her subsequent work.

Finally, as an online instructor, I would require that all students review their institution’s academic integrity policy. Additionally, I believe students need to hear definitions of plagiarism and see examples. A quiz would be a fun, interactive way to approach this. I would also create or refer students to a Web page similar to Walden’s (Walden University, 2012) or the University of Maryland’s (University of Maryland, n.d.) that succinctly outlines university policy.

I recognize some students, for varying reasons, might feel pressure to cheat. However, I would try to discourage this by emphasizing the need to uphold and respect the hard work and research of others. I would do this with the understanding that while setting expectations is a good practice, it does not typically reduce incidents of plagiarism.  (Jocoy & DiBiase, 2006) I also agree with Jocoy & DiBiase (2006) that institutions with atmospheres lacking respect should resort to consistently enforcing academic integrity. In closing, I would remind students about institutional resources they could consult to help them make positive distinctions. These would include librarians and writing assistants.

Works cited:

Jocoy, C., & DiBiase, D. (2006). Plagiarism by adult learners online: A case study in detection and remediation. International Review of Research in Open & Distance Learning, 7(1), 1-15.

Palloff, R & Pratt, K. (nd) Plagiarism and Cheating. Laureate Inc. Baltimore, MD

University of Maryland, University College (nd). Copyright and Fair Use in the UMUC Online or Face-to-Face Classroom. Retrieved August 9, 2012 from http://www.umuc.edu/library/libhow/copyright.cfm

Walden University Student Handbook (June 2012). Code of Conduct. Retrieved August 9, 2012 from http://catalog.waldenu.edu/content.php?catoid=41&navoid=5129

Categories: Walden 6510