Google’s new ‘Assignments’ software for teachers helps catch plagiarism
Just in time for the new school year, Google’s educational arm, Google for Education, today announced the launch of new tools aimed at helping teachers fight plagiarism. The company this morning is unveiling Assignments, an updated version of the software previously known as CourseKit, which will ship with new features that help instructors check students’ work to ensure it’s properly cited — not stolen from another source.
Students also can take advantage of the new tools, notes Google, as the feature will allow them to run these “originality reports” up to three times before submitting their final work to their teacher.
This gives students the chance to catch and fix any errors, while also saving the teacher time in grading, the company says.
The updated Google Assignments program does more than help catch cheaters, however.
The software combines aspects of Google Docs, Google Drive and Google Search into a new tool that’s focused on the creation and management of schoolwork, including the collection, grading and feedback process — and now, the ability to check for plagiarism, as well.
Other features include a comment bank to save teachers from typing the same feedback over and over; the ability to assign files to students without having to use the copier; the ability to grade assignments for a class with a student switcher and rubric included, and more.
With the plagiarism checker — the feature called “Originality Reports” — teachers can check for missed citations and other issues. When the work is turned in and locked, the feature will check the student’s text against “hundreds of billions of web pages” and “tens of millions of books,” says Google.
Once the feature is enabled on a given assignment, students can only run the check three times. This allows them the chance to fix oversights, but doesn’t let them abuse the feature to rewrite multiple pieces within a longer report to avoid detection.
Teachers will receive an Originality Report attached to the assignments that details any missed citations and notes the source — like a book or a web page.
“Today’s students face a tricky challenge: In an age when they can explore every idea imaginable on the internet, how do they balance outside inspiration with authenticity in their own work? Students have to learn to navigate the line between other people’s ideas and their own, and how and when to properly cite sources,” explains Brian Hendricks, a product manager for G Suite for Education, in an announcement.
The plagiarism-checking feature is launching into beta testing today, with invites rolling out to schools and teachers over the next few weeks. Assignments is a free addition to G Suite for Education.
The software can be used either as a companion to a school’s Learning Management System (LMS) or a school admin can opt to integrate it with the existing LMS, notes Google.