Collaboration or Plagiarism

One of the most important things I have learned so far in this course is the value of collaboration. Working together facilitates the sharing of skills and resources and provides support and encouragement which increases creativity and productivity. We’re a very interesting bunch of people doing this course. Working together is stimulating, stretching and fun.

Doing It Differently and the value of collaboration – that’s what I’m taking so far as the key to Digital Arts and Humanities.

But yet we are doing this is an institution which, like so many higher education institutions, is often uncomfortable with doing things differently and where there is an inherent distrust of collaboration amongst students. In some circles within this institution, collaboration and plagiarism are seen as synonymous, as one and the same thing. If two students are to work together on a project this is seen as cheating or, or at the very least, as of significantly less value than individual work done in isolation and secrecy.

So I have had the experience where I am being actively encouraged to collaborate with my classmates in DAH and I am seeing huge benefits from the sharing of skills, experiences and perspectives. Yet in one of our optional courses such collaboration is actively discouraged. When it became clear that two of us in the class were interested in working on a similar area for our class assignment, we were basically told not to work together and not to share resources. It was implied that we should effectively avoid one another until after the individual projects were submitted so as to avoid any allegations of plagiarism!

Mixed messages or what!

Perhaps one of the challenges for DAH is to not only encourage collaboration within its courses but to also try to encourage colleagues in other departments to see the value of collaboration and to not be so fearful of students working together.

After all, collaboration and plagiarism are not the same thing!

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