The eLearning Podcast, Episode №6 — Eric Gibbs, Ouriginal

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My guest for today’s episode is Eric Gibbs, who is the President for North America of the company Ouriginal.

When we recorded this interview in early September 2020, Ouriginal (with an “O-U”) is only a few hours old. Ouriginal is the result of a merger of two text-matching and plagiarism prevention companies: Urkund, from Sweden, and PlagScan, from Germany.

In the universe of eLearning technologies, the tools that companies like Ouriginal offer, commonly called “plagiarism detection,” get a bad rap. But in this conversation, Eric breaks down the complexities around detecting plagiarism and, more importantly, verifying authenticity. In short, the true value of originality management technologies lie in understanding how they fit in the relationship between the instructor and their students, as those students learn to use evidence to build strong arguments of their own.

I think you’re going to love this conversation where Eric and I talk about:

  • Why plagiarism detection does not really exist, and why the actual goal of these technologies is to encourage conversations about originality. The most challenging aspect about using these technologies is interpreting the results.
  • The problems that come with not having enough discussions about intellectual property in the classroom, or focusing on the “stick” part of it (penalties and consequences) rather than the “carrot” or original thinking.
  • The complexities of processing millions of student texts, matching them against gigantic databases made of public and private sources, both decades old and constantly updated, and generating a precise assessment that’s useful for teacher and student, all in a matter of seconds and protecting the privacy of all those involved.
  • And finally, why the problem of plagiarism is not binary, and a presumption of guilt can be so detrimental for the student experience. Eric gives advice on the right kind of conversations to have with students and children about the importance of finding their own voice and doing proper research.


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