For once, getting an 8 percent on your assignment is a good thing. That is, if you’re using North Toronto’s new experiment: Turn It In. Turn It In is a program designed to help teachers determine how much content form your essay is similar to content from a different source.
The program is being trial tested in NT’s eleventh grade students. Yet, some have concerns. Eva Mitre, an eleventh grade student says “I’m worried about my essays coming back to haunt me later on… what if I write something inflammatory now and its found by my employer later on”. Eva’s concerns have been echoed among many of the student population.
Chris Harddick, Vice President of Media at Turn It In says that the program was originally designed as a peer review program for students at Berkeley University in California when some professors began to notice the high amount of plagiarism by and between students.
Turn it in was then created. The program was introduced nationwide across America; it has entered into Canada as well. The program uses a massive database to store sources from around the web and submitted essays. You simply enroll in a class and press submit.
Your essay is filtered through the database and it selects and highlights passages that show a high level of similarity from their web sources. Mr. Hardicck says “it wasn’t designed to police students. It’s purely a program to help students and educators collaborate to ensure that all work is original. It’s not meant to get you in trouble…we encourage editing, and allow you to resubmit your essay once it is free of similar content”
The program has been brought to NT by librarians Mr. Small and Ms. Harvey who received a free trial from TDSB. It is now being tested across the entire eleventh grade.
Students are still concerned that the aspect of program that saves essays will be used to exploit them in the future. However, Mr. Harddick says that “the privacy has been preserved totally. Your name is stripped from it and all that will remain is the name of the organization that you submitted it under”.
Yet, in an era where privacy is willingly traded for Facebook likes and twitter re-tweets, are our essays the next step on the over sharing trend?
Turn it in emphasizes that it is only an editing tool, yet, the idea of our work saved in an online data base has left some feeling uneasy. The benefits are plenty however, and the opportunity to ensure that all student work is honest is definitely important. We as students need to be sure to get below a 10 percent.