DIY Alternatives to Turnitin for Written Tests

By Jim Shimabukuro

A memo was circulated today by Maria Bautista, our Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs1, re “Assessment During Remote Delivery of Spring 2020 Courses or Proctored Tests Alternatives and Information Sharing.” In response, Guy Kellogg posted a comment about using Turnitin. In response to Guy’s comment, I posted the following reply:

There are also DIY means to discourage plagiarism as well as ghostwriting2:

1. One is to assign unique topics — as opposed to generic. To make a topic unique, here are some possibilities:

  • Require the inclusion of quotes from specific or nonmainstream readings, videos, or class lectures. The more specific or atypical, the better.
  • Require the inclusion of quotes from classmates in online discussions or from a personal interview.
  • Require the inclusion of a firsthand experience or observation, i.e., a paragraph or more of personal narrative — to support the student’s thesis.
  • Require the application of specific critical thinking tools — e.g., logical fallacies, SMELL, Henry, or Davis Oldham’s “Evidence” (Shoreline CC) — for the purpose of analysis.
  • Other: _______. Once you begin thinking in terms of unconventional writing assignments that are unique to your course, many other possibilities will spring to mind.

2. Acquire a sense of each student’s writing style through online class discussions and email. This isn’t as esoteric as it sounds. You’ll do it naturally as you read their email and discussion posts. It automatically becomes a part of their identity, like their unique names. Even when you don’t “see” them, you’ll develop a sense of their “voice.”3 When this voice is suddenly absent from parts or the whole of a paper, an alarm will sound in your mind, and a simple test is to extract an especially unusual line and google it with quotes. If you don’t get any hits, then do it a couple more times with similar lines. This can be done in a few minutes.

3. If possible and time permits, ask students to submit both a preliminary and final draft. The preliminary draft could include peer feedback with suggestions for improvement. The final draft should show signs of responsiveness to the feedback.

4. Other: __________. I’m sure you and others can think of many more ways to discourage cheating.

Related article: Essays or Projects Instead of Proctored Exams: A COVID-19 Response, 18 March 2020.

1 At the University of Hawai’i – Kapi’olani CC.
2 Re ghostwriting: Most ghostwriters, either paid or sympathetic, are willing to collude if the writing task is generic and doesn’t include considerable time investment on their part. The more unique your prompt or assignment, the less inclined they’ll be to assist.
3 Encourage the use of photos or avatars in discussions to get a better sense of their identities.

What’s Going On As School-age Children Are Staying at Home?

Lynn ZimmermannBy Lynn Zimmerman
Associate Editor
Editor, Teacher Education

As an educator who is not currently involved in classroom teaching, I have been curious about what’s going on as school-age children are staying at home. On March 21, 2020, Frank Stasio, host of The State of Things, presented a program called “Pandemic Parenting: Tips, Tricks and Advice from the Experts.” The State of Things, produced by WUNC, focuses on what’s happening in North Carolina, but many topics, like this one, are of general interest.

Frank Stasio, host of The State of Things.

Duke University psychologist and professor, Robin Gurwitch, and eighth-grade English teacher, Amy Scott, were Stasio’s guests on the show. He and the guests talked with parents and caregivers about everything from how to talk to your child about coronavirus to realistic expectations of a stay-at-home-education routine for all children, including those with special needs and (gasp) teenagers.

I’d like to hear from K-12 teachers and parents of K-12 students. What is working for you? What lessons have you learned? What do you wish you had?

Berliner Philharmoniker Digital Concert Hall Free for a Month

By Satoru Shinagawa

Berliner Philharmoniker is giving access to their Digital Concert Hall free for a month. I’ve just redeemed a voucher. I can listen to one of the best orchestras at home.

Overview of Berliner Philharmoniker’s Digital Concert Hall

Click on the link below to redeem a voucher.

Continue reading

My Life in LA County During COVID-19: March 29

Harry Keller 80By Harry Keller
Former ETCJ Science Editor
& President of SmartScience

Are we about to enter a new world, and how brave will it be? -HK

Mar 29, 2020 at 9:30 AM: I absolutely must give a huge shout-out to the doctors, nurses, and health care workers risking their lives under sometimes impossible situations to save lives. All of the support personnel in our hospitals, from janitors to pharmacists, also deserve our thanks for entering buildings under these conditions that threaten their lives and those that they live with. It is beyond unfortunate that we did not respond more rapidly to the wake-up call from China.

Yesterday was a great day for me because I had visits from both of my children and a walk with my wife.

It began with my son calling to say he was dropping by. He said that his 14-day quarantine was over. He arrived with his wife and an Indian lunch for us all to share. We still did not approach each other too closely. It seems that you cannot take too much care these days.  Continue reading

How to Share AAPPL Material with Your Students

By Satoru Shinagawa

I introduced ACTFL (American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Language) AAPPL as an asynchronous oral online testing tool a few days ago. (See “Free Asynchronous Oral Testing Service from ACTFL: A COVID-19 Response,” ETCJ, 3/22/20.)

Some people asked me to make a tutorial video of how to share AAPPL material they made with their students.

Click image to watch the video.

This is the video I made. The video length is about 3:40.

Basically, this is the procedure:

1) Students make their own accounts (free) with AAPPL.
2) Instructors send a class code to students.
3) Students log in to AAPLE and use the class code to access the shared material.

My Life in LA County During COVID-19: March 27

Harry Keller 80By Harry Keller
Former ETCJ Science Editor
& President of SmartScience

My daughter also informs me that her son’s elementary school principal has the virus now. -HK

Mar 27, 2020 at 2:01 PM: My wife and I continue in good health. We are now being more careful in what we do. We have found a local restaurant that is offering home delivery of boxes of fruits and vegetables in place of meals. My daughter has had one delivery and says it looks good. We may give them a try soon. She also found a restaurant that should meet our needs when we choose not to cook. I should say when I choose not to cook because I do all of the cooking.

Our beaches, bike paths, piers, and bathrooms have been shut down now. -HK

When you receive a box, it could be contaminated with the virus. It’s not likely, but it can happen because not every infected person has symptoms. You should put the box in the sunlight if possible. Ultraviolet light is very good at destroying viruses. Open it outdoors if you can. Some apartment dwellers do not have that option. Do not bring the empty box indoors. Recycle it outside.  Continue reading

My First Week Teaching Online During the COVID-19 Shutdown

By Guy Kellogg

For what it’s worth, here is a description of the past week, during which nearly all in-person courses were moved online in response to COVID-19. I wrote it to Sam, the volunteer campus gardener.

In your email, Sam, you asked: “How do you conduct your online instruction?”

I would rephrase the question and ask, “How do you conduct your instruction online?”

It’s a big challenge, but I have good students. I’ve taught online before, but since none of my current students signed up for an online class, I took spring break to up my skills, thanks to the indefatigable support of professional staff and volunteer peers, and I now offer a distance education class.

The best [Zoom] view to start with is like the old Hollywood Squares TV quiz show, but with 5×4 (20) students. -GK

Here’s how it works: We use a videoconferencing app (Zoom) to all meet. The best view to start with is like the old Hollywood Squares TV quiz show, but with 5×4 (20) students. We are all in our little boxes or windows, and we can all “see” each other and talk to each other that way. The students are now on two continents, but we all meet twice a week, and I have two classes like that.  Continue reading