Google launches educational tool to combat plagiarism

Student cheating

“Originality Reports" aims to make grading and feedback processes more efficient for teachers.

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Google for Education announced the launch of a new tool to promote students' originality on homework and projects — which looks more like an anti-plagiarism initiative.

The tool, called “Originality Reports," a new feature included in Google Classroom’s Assignments platform, aims to make grading and feedback processes more efficient for teachers and promote best practices in students when referencing the work of others.

A tool against plagiarism

Google knows that teachers use their search engine to uncover cheating. This common practice involves copying and pasting phrases from students’ homework, and the results reveal possible dishonesty situations. This new tool automates this procedure by comparing students' writings with databases of billions of web pages and millions of books.

This announcement is good news for teachers who will ease some work burden with a simplified method for grading and giving feedback. Also, this tool can be used by students to improve their writing and citing practices.

Concerns about data privacy

Student privacy is critical. As the Washington Post story states, the FBI has scrutinized some companies such as Turnitin, McGraw-Hill, and Pearson, due to the way they use and collect student data. Authorities believe that the unbridled expansion of ed-tech products and services could pose significant risks of having data stolen or monetized without the user’s permission or knowledge.

In this regard, Brian Hendricks, Product Manager of G Suite for Education, said: "Schools can choose to have their own private repository of past student submissions, so instructors can receive originality reports that include student-to-student matches within the same school." It seems Google does not plan to store student's work and only instructors will be able to view their school data.  

Without a doubt, “Originality Reports” represents a notable advance in the analysis of educational content and the optimization of administrative processes of schools. Let's hope educational institutions or Google do not lose, monetize or exploit this data.
If you want to explore Originality Reports, ask to be part of the testing program by completing the form on the official Google for Education website.