Tip of the Week: SafeAssign

Screenshot 2014-01-31 11.36.32Plagiarism is a cruel reality that educators have to deal with and this is because it can be done with or without intent of the students. In the last decade the problem has even multiplied because the resources for students to gather information has increased as the internet continues to grow. Usually teachers will remind students to not use websites but some will do this and then it becomes a growing problem to figure out if a website was blatantly used by a student to finish their essay.



For that reason today we will be looking at a software tool inside Blackboard called SafeAssign. With SafeAssign teachers can setup assignments through Blackboard by making an assessment using the SafeAssignment tool. It will function much like any other assignment with the given benefit of having SafeAssign run the papers through SafeAssign’s database of plagiarized material which includes Google searches, and academic journals.

Screenshot 2014-01-31 11.24.08Even if you don’t make your assignments using SafeAssignment you can upload them using the SafeAssign tool that can be found in the Course Tools. Select DirectSubmit to individually upload the documents. After you upload the files SafeAssign will take some time to sort through all the content in the document and check to see if any of it has been said word for word.

You can then check to see if it is a simple coincidence or if there was some definite plagiarism in the document. It will give you read outs letting you know what percentage of the highlighted passages match the sources that SafeAssign found and links to the articles so you can review if the system made the right judgement. This tool saves a lot of headache trying to figure if an paper written by a student is truly legitimate and can spend more time working on planning new exciting course material to help the students learn.

Screenshot 2014-01-31 11.32.00

If you have any questions or would like to let us know about apps you think would be worth sharing please leave us a response in the comments below.

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Create narratives for your class with iFake Text

iFaketextBeing a teacher doesn’t mean you have to use material from some publishing house to engage your students. Narratives often can be made by you to help you engage with the students you worth with every day. For today I’ve found a tool that you can use to create fake text messages to look real. The beauty is that you can make stories that can be funny and constructive to class discussion or even useful in a quiz.

The tool is iFake Text, and it is a simple web app that lets you create all sorts of conversation starters. While the conversation is fake the framing of a text message can add a sense of reality to that standard word problems can’t convey.

To use the tool you need to go to the linked page and give a character name to the title at the top much like you would have the name of friend or relative at the top if this were a real message. Then you need to use alternating names or numbers to differentiate between the messages so the system can tell them apart, and example of a text will be below.

1: I think my computer is broken
2: Ok what seems to be the problem?
1: The screen is dark and when I turn the power button it just says its going to power save? Why won’t it turn on?
2: Is there a big box near by?
1: Yeah but what does a CD player have to do with my computer?

Try this template out and change the discussion and imagine ways you can make conversations that will help you create stories that can both entertain and teach your students.

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Watch what you post online

Today while doing research on tech trends in Educational Technology this article came up: Be Careful What You Post Online. Now that we live in a time where so many aspiring college students can share their thoughts it is worth reading. The internet is a public setting regardless of the social media. Think about how what you post on social media can be used as your first impression to a college or a job.

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Happy Thanksgiving

As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.

John F. Kennedy

Read more at http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/j/johnfkenn105511.html#xWD4XUvDhyi31WQd.99

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Digital Storytelling Tools

Photostory3So it is coming to that time of year when students will need to prepare presentations for class. Now depending on the layer of detail you need this can be a very simple process of using popular tools like Prezi or PowerPoint. Both are good options and have a lot of depth, but some classes may want to focus on imagery and audio hoping to avoid all the extra tools that make other programs somewhat cumbersome.

First I will recommend reading this blog over at EdTechTeacher.org which provides a useful set of tools that you can rummage through to find a solution that meets your needs.

Digital Storytelling Tools

For myself I’m going to talk about a very straight forward tool in the ones listed and that is PhotoStory 3 which is a free program that you can download to any Windows system. This tool has just a few simple settings to it that allow you to take photos and add audio or music to create a WMV file that you can use in class. The main highlight is both cost and ease of use, which can be very useful for ESL teachers that need to find tools that are both powerful and easy to explain to students.

If you have any questions or would like help learning how to use PhotoStory 3 you can always contact me at jhuntsinger@nvcc.edu for support.

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