After migrating to the Canvas LMS, academic institutions are often puzzled with a question what plagiarism detection tool to choose. Unlike Blackboard, Canvas has no built-in checker accessible to its users for free. For now all the apps are paid and can be integrated as external tools via LTI or/and API. The full list of checkers is given in the Edu App Centre.
Why only paid checkers are offered? Briefly, free tools fail to deliver precise comparison results simply because they have primitive parsing systems using cached data instead of real-time web index (which is rather costly). Outdated information, broken links to original sources – that’s what makes their work really bad. Not to mention seamless integration, search through open access databases, safety, usability, instant support, and more.
Lately, institution administrators as well as educators ask the Canvas community to suggest a worthy alternative to the tool they’ve been using. The reasons to look for other reliable services are numerous. Bugs caused by the switchover from API to LTI integration, inability to quickly fix them, too slow support feedback, too high price tag, etc.
One of the recommended solutions that is often mentioned in the Canvas community threads is Unplag. Many wonder if it is able to work efficiently and simplify the workflow. So, read on to find the answers and explore its key features, and upcoming updates.
What Unplag is all about
Rolled out in 2014, Unplag claims to offer a smart plagiarism detection technology to higher educational institutions, K-12 and individuals. It boasts of having an in-house team of software developers, designers, and even researchers specializing in machine learning. This enables the Unplag team quickly get the idea of what users need and implement it within tight time frames.
The Unplag plans for 2017 are quite ambitious. Working jointly with the Canvas engineers, Unplag is developing a new integration framework that will facilitate the workflow. Namely, it will support Crocodoc in Canvas assignments, more SpeedGrader features including grading by rubric.
What sources Unplag checks
Sources checked, accuracy and speed of search are fundamental characteristics for every plagiarism finder and that’s what Unplag has.
Unlike its competitors, Unplag allows scanning through the live web index. That is, if a student steals a passage from the article posted only an hour ago, Unplag detects it and includes the link in the report. That is to say, it returns accurate data.
Unplag can also check against the archive of student submissions (in academic institution’s database) or newly submitted papers. Besides, Unplag asserts that it doesn’t share access to the submitted files with anybody unless a user decides to enable the sharing option.
Additionally, the tool lets educators run checks across all the documents previously checked or uploaded to Unplag accounts at unplag.com.
Scanning papers through open access repositories and journals is partially available for now, because as Unplag states only 60% of the paid repositories index is in open access. Still, the repositories and journals index will go live in 2017 and Unplag will keep on increasing the database.
User flexibility at Unplag
Yes. Whenever an educator is creating a new assignment, he is free to choose different search settings. It’s possible to automatically skip citations and references (in MLA, APA, Chicago, Turabian, Harvard), change similarity search type, enable draft submissions for students, exclude similarity sources with minor matches, hide similarity search results from students.
Once a student submits an assignment or paper, Unplag automatically delivers a similarity search report. It immediately becomes available to an educator with both similarity and originality scores for each submission. Unplag highlights text matches, citations and references in different colors to easily navigate the report.
There’s also a list of links to matching sources. Each is provided with a similarity percentage too. By clicking the link, the original source page is opened with matching piece spotted.
Omitting a source or correctly cited material manually is also possible. If student work needs some recommendations or corrections, an educator can make use of the commenting tool.
How Unplag integrates with Canvas
Unplag integrates with Canvas via standard Canvas functionality called “External tools”, i.e. LTI app. The Unplag app can be installed by administrator as a tool available for the whole campus or just for a particular course. Administrator can do this either via the Canvas LTI app centre or manually.
The good news is that once the app is installed no further setup or maintenance is required. The Unplag app is a cloud-based tool, therefore all the system updates and features become accessible right after the launch.
By the way, as it was said, Unplag teams up with Canvas to release a new integration framework that will allow users to add the tool simply via a check box.
What makes Unplag stand out
One of its prominent features is that newly released updates are available for free to all current users. They won’t need extra setup, the magic happens thanks to cloud technologies Unplag uses.
For those who don’t need to use a plagiarism checker within the whole campus and overpay for that, Unplag suggests using it for one or more departments instead.
It is also possible to request some customization, so that educators and students can get maximum benefit when using the tool daily.
Unplag allows for storing huge amount of student submissions thanks to its big server capacities, which is definitely a great bonus for the institution.
What is more, Unplag takes care of its users by allowing them to check numerous submissions without actually creating an assignment in Canvas. These are so-called ‘on-demand’ checks. This feature is provided to instructors for free. They can run the checks by signing in to their individual accounts in the standalone version of Unplag.
To foster academic integrity principles across the globe, Unplag willingly takes part in creating educational materials to motivate students to be original.
For more info Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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