YESTERDAY, PROFESSOR WILLIAM DAVIES discussed plagiarism, identifying such literary treachery with TurnItIn software, and obscuring it by means of Artificial Intelligence. Today, his article in London Review of Books continues to enlighten and entertain. (As is typical of articles in LRB; check out the article’s accompanying Letters as well.)
Saying It Differently (Or Better?) Davies cites some students who “seem conscientious yet intimidated by secondary texts: presumably they won’t be able to improve on them, so why bother?”
Here at SimanaitisSays, sources are identified with quotes and citations. Being the editor I am, I may occasionally fool with syntax, but, if so, will have that portion sans quote marks.
Take-away Lecturers. Davies notes, “Typically, online lectures are not broadcast live. Instead, to maximise accessibility, a common protocol is to record them and then upload the video files using software such as the fearsomely named Panopto.”
Take-away Students. Davies cites Gen Z Explained: the Art of Living in a Digital Age, by Roberta Katz, et al: “Gen Z Explained reports cases of students watching lectures at triple speed, with captions switched on to aid their concentration and help them glean the ‘relevant’ information as swiftly as possible.”
Davies continues, “One of the strangest plagiarism hearings I have had to deal with since the pandemic began involved a student who had apparently transcribed a lecturer’s spoken words (perhaps with the aid of automatic captioning) and copied large chunks straight into their essay.”
Take-away Evaluations. Davies writes, “This generation, the first not to have known life before the internet, has acquired a battery of skills in navigating digital environments, but it isn’t clear how well those skills line up with the ones traditionally accredited by universities.”
Nor is it clear how best to assess levels of achievement. As an example, there’s ClassDojo, which Wikipediia says “connects primary school teachers, students and families through communication features, such as a feed for photos and videos from the school day…. According to ClassDojo, its app is used by teachers, children and families in 95% of pre-kindergarten through eighth grade schools in the United States, as well in a further 180 countries.”
Davies writes, “ClassDojo features a scoring system in which teachers award points to pupils for anything from giving correct answers to punctuality or general bonhomie. The ostensible idea is to motivate children and create transparency around school activities (parents can log in to see how their child is doing), but software of this sort also fuels competitiveness and can make children anxious.”
I’m reminded of traditional report cards that rated “Attitude” as well as “Competency.” Smart alecks among us strived for an A in the latter and D in the former.
Literacy, Pedagogy, and Technology. Davies summarizes matters: “There’s no question that literacy and pedagogy must evolve alongside technology. It’s possible to recognise this while also defending an educational humanism – with a small ‘h’ – that values the time and space given to a young person to mess around, try things out, make mistakes, have a say, and not immediately find out what score they’ve got as a result. It has become clear, as we witness the advance of Panopto, Class Dojo and the rest of the EdTech industry, that one of the great things about an old-fashioned classroom is the facilitation of unrecorded, unaudited speech, and of uninterrupted reading and writing.”