Lesson Plan: Workplace Plagiarism


  • Students will understand the evolving meaning of plagiarism and be able to provide examples of it. New terms/concepts: collusion vs. collaboration; Creative Commons; open-source.
  • Students will be able to see the real world consequences of plagiarism in the workplace.
  • Students will be able to identify motivators for plagiarism and suggest ways to limit their own risk, temptation to plagiarize.
  • Students will practice using digital presentation tools to enhance their oral communication development.


  • An effective communicator who speaks, writes, and listens honestly and sensitively, responding critically in light of gospel values.
  • A collaborative contributor who respects the rights, responsibilities and contributions of self and others.

MINDS’ ON: Students are to complete the following Minds’ On Survey. Results will be projected and a brief overview of each question’s correct response will follow with opportunities for student feedback, discussion.

Screenshot (20)

The Minds’ On activity is created and shared through Office 365’s Survey feature. Students can view peer responses on the screen as classmates complete the survey.

ACTION:  In groups, students will review one of the following news articles dealing with workplace instances of plagiarism (most are from Ontario).

Their understanding of the article will be guided by the following three questions. Answers to these questions should be presented using a modern web 2.0 communication tool (PowToon, Prezi, PowerPoint, iMovie, MovieMaker, Sway, etc.)  to the class after approximately 25 min of in class preparation:

  1. What is the individual accused of plagiarizing? Be specific.
  2. What do you think motivated the individual to plagiarize? The article may not give specific reasons so, feel free to speculate. Suggest at least three motivations for the plagiarism.
  3. What were the consequences of the plagiarism?

CONSOLODATION: In an informal class discussion, ask students to reflect on commonalities in each of the case studies.

  • Did any of these individuals think that they would get caught?
  • What were some common motivators: stress; time crunch; pressure to preform? Are these similar to student experiences when tempted to plagiarize?

ASSESSMENT FOR LEARNING: ask each group: How many student groups actually cited the article in their creative presentation of the probing questions? If they did not, then there’s still room for more consideration of this issue.

NEXT LESSON: Learning more about Turnitin.com. Students will create a student account and submit an intentionally plagiarized test paragraph in the authenticity checker.

REFLECTION: I am always surprised at how often students do not cite the article in their presentations of the workplace plagiarism case studies. Even after considerable time is spend reviewing the importance of academic integrity and the serious consequences that can result, the informal nature of our learning seems to trump the required formal citation. Is my assessment for student learning in this lesson flawed?


When Teachers Are Afraid to Learn, Who Fails?

There has been a lot of changes in publicly funded education recently. In our Board, the biggest change has been the introduction of virtual learning environments (VLEs) like Desire2Learn and Office365 into instructional pedagogy. Some teachers are seeing the value in extending the learning experience beyond their classrooms. Teachers who have been quick to take up VLEs into their instructional style generally report the following experiences:

1. They stop tanning by the photocopier. They learn to upload.

2. They are quick to add discussion boards. They ask students probing questions.

3. They change their lessons. They flip it. They add video. They ask students to embed and to share.

4. They may even change their assessments. They start asking students to publish instead of to submit.

There are a lot of reasons why teachers deliberately opt out of this learning however. Just like our students, the reasons teachers may have not to learn new ways of teaching are legitimate and real. But, what happens when there’s never any evidence of growth and professional development over time? Can teachers fail teaching? Or, do they just fail our students?

Using an VLE for a Paper and Pencil OSSLTest?

Last year (2013-14), our school’s Literacy PLT set out to offer our After School Literacy preparation course as a blended learning one. Each of the eight face-to-face lessons were supported with online content for those students either needing a refresher or for those unable to attend the after-school extra help classes. We hoped that parents might also be encouraged to review class content and thereby partner with us in the preparation of their students for this large scale assessment.

What did we find? Teachers liked it. Students liked it. Parents liked it. There was one problem, however. We were adopting a 21st century learning model to prepare students for an antiquated test blueprint. We were giving our students a fabulous new virtual learning environment that they enjoyed and then, on the day of the high stakes test, EQAO was asking them to sharpen their pencils.

We had not made a mistake. We did the right thing. We had flipped our lessons: provided instructional videos, animations, immediate response feedback on grammar-focused multiple-choice questions and threaded discussions and then, on the day of the test, if our equity and accountability office (EQAO) was going to expect our learners to unplug and to power down, then they had failed; not us.

We knew this would be the case but we did it any way because, for most every teacher I know, the OSSLT is not a valid or authentic assessment of any modern literacy construct. At its best, it’s a pretext for using school and board resources to allow teachers to learn. I know I learned a lot. We put into place our varied departmental theories of action by creating three-part lessons using our school’s tried and true reading and writing strategies. We set learning goals, co-constructed success criteria; used exit tickets to check for learning. We expanded our repertoire of instructional strategies.

This year EQAO is piloting a fully online OSSLT experience. I’m very curious to see if the medium will effect the message. Will question formats in particular and the test blueprint in general change or will they simply serve up a 15 year old test on a shinny new plate?

Desire2Learn or Microsoft Office365?

D2L Image O365 image

At the outset, let me say that this is a nice problem to have. Listening to teachers talk about which blended learning platform works best for their disciplines and their students is certainly the prettiest picture I’ve seen in education in a long while. It means that a lot of things have gone right: in training, access, policies and mind shifts. Obviously, there is no real answer to this question other than that both are needed; both are necessary. Some comparison of D2L and Office365, however, may be helpful to teachers wondering where to start.

Teachers using D2L seem to enjoy the “Management” in this VLE. The system integration with Trillium; the imbedded Turnitin “authenticity check” (and the electronic form of descriptive feedback that such a built-in provides) and the auto correct assessment feature, are the top three reasons why teachers like using our Board’s version of D2L. As far as management and/or tracking of or assessment of student work is concerned, D2L is a far superior teacher tool than is O365. Personally, I enjoy the blogging feature of D2L because it connects learners in our entire Board across panels and families of schools. As teachers begin to discover this feature, I’m certain that it will connect our Board’s learners in the same way that public micro-blogging sites like Twitter have connected other communities. It’s also nice knowing that our student blogging is protected within our learning “cove,” allowing both teachers and students the freedom to make mistakes, or just to think out loud, within a safe and somewhat private offline/online space. Office365 also allows for student blogging and class wikies but D2L is connected Board-wide and there’s value in that.

Microsoft Office365 users enjoy the inherently collaborative learning model supported by Microsoft application features. Allowing students to work collaboratively, remotely and in real time on the entire suite of Microsoft applications (Word, PowerPoint, Excel) certainly makes authentic student collaboration possible in a way that we never could before. This platform provides each of our students with their own Board email and a ton of cloud-based storage as well. Both very necessary in supporting student learning and growth. Not to mention that this platform has the most value when considering the development of student employability skills. Our learners are much more likely to use Mircrosoft Office applications in their future workplace settings than they are D2L after all.

It’s not possible to talk about Office365 without making some mention of its calendar feature. I’m hoping that it could one day, make our student agenda books obsolete. Certainly an online agenda/calendar could more effectively encourage the meta-cognition and self-management skills we are trying to foster in our learners than could our current coil-bound agenda books.

This platform also beats out our Board’s version of D2L on styling, if nothing else. Office365 presents as polished, modern and clean while D2L reads as a Texas Instruments calculator of old. While this may sound like a minor criticism, it’s really not. Interface matters to students and therefore it’s got to matter to teachers as well.

Which ever platform the new blended learning teacher starts with, they shouldn’t stay there for long. The quicker the teacher adopts multiple virtual learning management systems/environments, the sooner they realize that they’re not married to the technology or the platform. They are instead able to see that they can take advantage of the best of what each online environment has to offer their students and them. More importantly, they realize a few key things: first and foremost, they understand that they can’t become stagnant within a platform. Eventually, that platform will collapse and they will need to know that they can adopt a new and better one. Second, and perhaps most important, they realize that the technology is not replacing their teaching. After all, good teaching in the classroom isn’t much different than good teaching online.