Today's lesson in irony

Is a story like this and the fact that college students use wikipedia as a reference source, a scary trend in US education?

SAN ANTONIO – University of Texas at San Antonio students wanted to draft an honor code that discouraged cheating and plagiarizing.

Unfortunately, it appears they copied Brigham Young University’s code without proper attribution.

The student in charge of drafting the code said it was an oversight, but cheating experts say it illustrates a sloppiness among Internet-era students who don’t know how to cite sources properly and think of their computers as cut-and-paste machines.

“That’s the consequence of the Internet and the availability of things,” said Daniel Wueste, director of the Rutland Center for Ethics at Clemson University. “It doesn’t feel like what would be in a book. You Google it and here it comes.”

Akshay Thusu said he took over the project a month ago and inherited a draft from students who came before him. He said he discovered that a group of students attended a conference five years ago put on by Clemson’s Center for Academic Integrity.

Materials from the conference, which are used by many universities, were probably the main source of UTSA’s code, Thusu said. That’s why parts of the UTSA draft match word-for-word the online version of BYU’s code.

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About 30 percent of papers are “less than original,” Barrie said. About half of the cheating hits come from the Internet and the other half from student papers. A fraction come from library sources, he said.

Barrie said the No. 1 source is Wikipedia.org, where any user can write and edit entries.
“You tell me, is that a scary trend?” Barrie said.

I do think its a scary trend.

The student at The University of Texas at San Antonio reminds me of the Japanese college professor last year who plagiarized most of a paper on copyrights. What are schools coming to these days? What is happening may be as simple as students and educators not knowing what is right and wrong and the failure of public schools to either teach morals or give enough time to their teaching. I guess whatever awareness week or month it is at any current time is more important to educators. Just tells you why most of the US school system is so screwed up at present.

Update: A e-mailer informs us that Melissa Ludwig of the San Antonio Express-News originally broke this story, which the AP is now running in a slightly modified version (like the one we linked to and these other examples [1, 2, 3]) without any author attribution. Perhaps that’s lesson two in irony…

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