SafeAssign – A free anti-plagiarism tool for Blackboard

Announced at the corporate keynote at BbWorld07, SafeAssign is a plagiarism prevention service integrated with the LMS that attempt to uncover and/or deter plagiarism while educating the campus community about what plagiarism is. Leveraging a dedicated assignment tool, assignments are uploaded to a central service which compares the submission against their databases and other submitted works held in the Global Reference Database. Any institution running any of the newer Blackboard Learning Systems is eligible to download and install the PowerLink/Building Block for their campus free of charge. Future platform deliveries will have this service embedded and will not require separate installation.

SafeAssign checks submitted papers (Word, RTF, PDF, TXT, HTML and ZIP packages of these) against the Internet using Windows Live Search technology. Blackboard has partnered with ProQuest ABI/Inform and searches against their 2.5 million articles database. SafeAssign also checks against a local institutional database of locally submitted work, as well as a Global Reference Database which is comprised of submissions volunteered by students from SafeAssign campuses. Obviously this database is expected to grow over time as the SafeAssign system is adopted by Blackboard institutions. It is important to note that the Global Reference Database is an opt-in service that students may elect to take advantage of in order to protect their own work.

Beyond the course integration aspect, SafeAssign also boasts a Direct Submit feature that allows faculty (not students as of the current release) to check documents on a “one-off” basis if they receive work that triggers their “spidey-sense.”

Gradebook integration is not yet available for CE/Vista campuses meaning that after the creation of the assignment, the faculty member will also need to create a new grading column in order to provide a grade value. It is expected that a patch will be issued that will provide this service in the coming months.

General Counsel Matthew Small noted that this new service will in no way affect the PowerLink or Building Block servicing TurnItIn, and the general flavor is that TurnItIn is still considered a strong corporate partner. Greg Ritter pointed out that those institutions currently employing TurnItIn may be loath to move away and abandon the student submissions collected through their use of the TurnItIn service.

[tags]blackboard, bbworld07, safeassign, turnitin, plagiarism[/tags]

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