Plagiarism has grown exponentially since the Internet became available to students. All authors can be plagued by it, either because they have confiscated someone else?s words, or someone else has stolen theirs.

A software system, Turnitin (say it slowly) is used by many universities around the world, including the US and UK to catch cheaters. It looks at the student?s work for similar material on the Internet, or even between students. It is not a small endeavor ? they claim to check around 8 million student papers this year in the UK alone.

But that scrutiny was interrupted for at least two days by a service disruption announced by the cheater-checking company. As a result, some students got a reprieve and were given a two day grace period for turning in their assignments.

Students have historically found ways to circumvent being caught during exams. Notes on the palm of the hand or cheat sheets hidden in the sleeve of their shirt. On-line courses pose new problems for the teacher. These courses that take advantage of the newest technologies have become increasingly popular saving time for both student and instructor. Such classes often cost less than those requiring attendance at a brick and mortar facility.

On-line courses have become popular, but pose new challenges for the scholastic community

Peter Taylor, chair of the UK Open University’s academic conduct group posed a rhetorical question to the BBC?How do you know that the individual taking the [online] exam is the right person?" With keystroke recording becoming common and cameras sending images of the user across the air, measuring those keystrokes and even iris recognition could verify a student’s identity. That future is not so far away.

In addition to assisting teachers catch plagiarism, Turnitin offers WriteCheck to students. It acts as a tutor, helping them with such testy problems as grammar.

Turnitin is based in Oakland, California with offices also in the UK. They also have software that verifies the originality of materials prospective students submit with an admissions application. So not only do current college students need to adhere to a homework habit based on the honor system, high schoolers attempting to gain acceptance to college should aim at an ?A? in honesty at the git-go.