A Guide for Resisting EdTech: The Case Against Turnitin

Sean Michael Morris, Jesse Stommel, Digital Pedagogy Lab, Jun 16, 2017
Commentary by Stephen Downes

"While students who use Turnitin are discouraged from copying other work," write the authors, "the company itself can strip mine and sell student work for profit." This has been true for some time, and has been tested in court. But the point of this article is to argue that, in general, "we participate in a digital culture owned and operated by others who have come to understand how easily they can harvest our intellectual property, data, and the minute details of our lives." We need to be aware of this and address this, but enacting agency, as Tim Amidon writes, iscomplex work "… [that] requires an increasingly sophisticated array of multiliteracies." The auithors offer a short rubric for evaluating these technologies, looking at who owns the tool, what data we have to provide to use the tool, and how the tool mediates pedagogy. And it is on these grounds - not merely legal grounds - where Tuirnitin is found wanting. They: “undermine students’ authority over their own work; place students in a role of needing to be policed; create a hostile environment; supplant good teaching with the use of inferior technology; and violate student privacy."

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