Friday, January 11, 2013

Buddy the Elf, Internet Free Candy, and Plagiarism

If saw "Elf" over the holidays, then you will remember this scene - Buddy the Elf is preparing to go to New York City to find his father when Santa offers him some advice, including the following:

"Well, there are some things you should know.
First off, you see gum on The street,
Leave it there. It's not free candy."


Of course, when Buddy arrives in NYC, he can't resist the "free candy" on the streets, the handrails, etc...Funny!
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If you've taught a class that involves research, you will remember this scene - Students are preparing to complete a class to earn their degrees, and we offer them advice, including the following:

"To do good research, you should know some things.
First off, just because you can cut and paste something,
that doesn't mean it is good information.
Find reputable sources and cite them."

Of course, when your students actually get to writing the paper, they sometimes find random "free candy" on the internet to be irresistible. Not so funny.
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I ran across an informative, if less-than-encouraging, article titled "The Top 10 Internet Sources College Students Us May Discourage You."  Oh, yeah, it does discourage us - especially after we've introduced them to the wealth of scholarly online resources that are available through our college or university libraries. I mean - millions of dollars worth of resources at their finger tips, peer-reviewed articles from the most erudite experts in every subject, ground-breaking studies in every field, and they "Google" for info on "steroids?"

(Thankfully, there are no sharp objects nearby as I write this. Anyway - take deep breaths and remain calm, Randy...)

So, I remind myself - and if it helps, you can remind yourself, too - our students are sort of like Buddy - this is their first trip to the big academic city. I will try to help them understand research and intellectual integrity from a broad view that deals with credibility, critical thinking, ethos, and what it means to be a "collegial" member of their new academic community. I will use a variety of approaches ranging from our official plagiarism statements to the story of Buddy the Elf. And I will keep telling myself that it's a process, and that it is my job to help my students (and colleagues) to develop an integrated approach to 21st-century digital literacy.

And I may or may not pass along this tidbit shared with me on Facebook recently:


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