Do anti-plagiarism apps work?

They do, when properly used. Or when users temper their expectations. Consider moodLearning’s anti-plagiarism (mLaP) service, for instance. Like other anti-plagiarism services (including Turnitin), mLaP enables users to upload their articles or assignments, needless to say with no little prodding from instructors. Off they go! One might be forgiven to think that the results of the submission would say, “Oh, plagiarists!” Or, “Oh, congratulations! Not a single plagiarist bone in your body.” The reality, however, is more complicated than that. What the app returns are just similarity results in percentages. Meaning, how your document, or parts of it, resemble with certain documents or parts elsewhere or from the submissions of our your own peers.

So the challenge now is: which percentage would count as definitive in determining plagiarism? Of course there are the obvious ones: 100%, 90%, 80%, and so on. But what about single digits? Or even 11%? The rater, who hopefully knows what he’s doing, would have to go in and take a closer look at the passages or lines concerned.

How much of the similarities could be attributed to deliberate copying? Or to just carelessness?

Top 5 Benefits of a Blended Learning Platform*

Blended learning (BL) seeks to combine the best of face-to-face instruction and online learning. Arguably it’s the best there is in state-of-the-art education! “…[In] studies contrasting blends of online and face-to-face instruction with conventional face-to-face classes, blended instruction has been more effective” (US Dept of Education, 2010).

A platform for BL provides the necessary tools to engage learners, boosting teaching efficiency. Students and teachers will benefit from using such platform. How?

1. learning anywhere, anytime

Unlike purely face-to-face training or instruction, blended learning takes place without having to haul people into one hall and keep them there for a long time. That works specially well for companies with personnel all over the country whose time is limited and will have to “mind the store” just the same. Or even if your staff are all in close locations in a region, you’ll have to contend with non-learning matters like traffic jams and being away from family for an extended period. Think of loss of productivity, just for the commute or for your employees to wade through traffic.

learning anytime, anywhere

While some trainers maintain that face-to-face communication has no replacement yet, blended learning simply optimizes communication and learning–online and offline. It helps overcome the limits of geography and time, reaching trainees who otherwise cannot partipate. Blended learning provides the flexibility necessary for participants to learn, when and where they are ready to learn.

blended learning means flexibility

The choice is not between work and learning; both are inextricably linked. A blended learning platform affords people to accomodate both, at times of a learner’s choosing. All these are happening in one virtual place (accessible from virtually anywhere): a blended learning platform.

2. increased learner engagement

With all distractions online and offline, engaging learners and trainees can be a major challenge. But coordinating learning from a single platform and incorporating otherwise distracting channels into the course could well increase learner engagement. A blended learning platform enables teachers and trainers to direct trainees into a continuous loop of activities, feedback, interaction–using course materials and activities in ways that otherwise may not be possible in a purely face-to-face learning environment.

Blended learning is aimed at keeping trainees and students engaged and away from distractions. Therefore, it is to be done on a platform where trainers and students can lessen “multitasking” where and when they have to. For certain learning tasks, students have to remain engaged, so as not to reduce their ability to filter out interferences (Ophir et al, 2009).

For learning to take place, you have to be in the mood for it and be engaged on the levels of both the intellect and the affect.

3. tools galore

For educators and trainers seduced by technology, you’d feel at home in a blended learning platform like Blearn that enables you to have a commanding view of your training. If you’re not into technology (yet!), yield to a little tech temptation.

tools from where you are!

In such tech platform, you have access to a variety of tools for communication, interaction, monitoring, testing, evaluation, grading. In blended learning, efficiency is the game. That’s why you’d want a platform that’s a one-stop shop for all your instructional “tricks.”

tools galore!

4. outcomes, outcomes, outcomes!

If your training boss keeps badgering you about training outcomes, nothing can be more facilitative of having good training outcomes than a blended learning platform. It can help you “mix and match” training materials and activities, engage learners across communication channels, and deploy appropriate assessment tools.

Blended learning is planned, deliberate, scheduled, monitored, designed, pedagogy-based program with measurable outcomes.

Don't just stand there
Most of all, it makes learning ACTIVE! By that I mean, in most cases, the use of group activities that reinforce learner initiatives and foreground the “game” and fun aspects of learning. Group activities done through a blended learning platform can highlight simultaneously the cooperative and competitive spirits of student peers.

Let me just reproduce here a single graph from a study that shows active learning increases student performance:

Kernel density plots of failure rates under active learning and under lectures. Mean failure rates under each classroom type--21.8% and 33.8%--are shown by dashed vertical lines.
Clearly active learning keeps students engaged, at least among the STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) crowd. Its advantage over mere lecturing (in terms of pass/fail outcome) is at least 10 per cent! Complementing learning with online activities through a platform is a logical extension in making learning “active.”

5. convenience – posting, sharing, monitoring, grading, enlisting help

A corollary point to having a variety of instructional, learning, and assessment tools is the convenience of deploying them from a blended learning platform like Blearn. Already instructors or trainers are saddled with mixed concerns (learning-related or otherwise). They cannot be expected to “hug it all.” Hence, what you need is a platform that consolidates the delivery of lessons, sharing them accross channels, monitoring students’ use of course materials and participation in various training activities, and assessing students. Such platform lightens otherwise burdensome tasks of teaching and mentoring.

get help!
You don’t have to do it all. A good blended learning platform also enables you to enlist the help of teaching assistants, course managers, co-faculty, mentors. You define the terms of engagements for these folks and, viola!, you’re set!

Originally posted at

eCoaching made easy

moodLearning eCoach is a specialized platform for running eCoaching programs. It’s a layer on moodLearning-powered learning management system (LMS).

With mL eCoach, certain users can be assigned as coaches or mentors who can be given access to progress reports (like grades, submissions, feedback, etc.) on their mentees. These mentees can be tracked across courses on the LMS.

Notifications can also be set for certain indicators (for instance, if the mentee has not logged in 5 days).

mL eCoach may be used for Sales Coaching, recording role plays, simulating sales scenarios, skills demo, sales call tag-alongs, sales on-boarding.

More info:

Learning Management System Security

For most uses of a learning management system (LMS), security is a moderate concern. However, for certain moodLearning partners, security is of prime value.

Here are some of the security measures that may be put in place on moodLearning-powered LMS:

Most of all, moodLearning makes it a mission to stay updated with the latest security vulnerabilities in order to ensure that its partners’ risks are managed proactively.

moodLearning-powered LMS is for the security and safety conscious.

* originally published at

Online Course Development

Unlike traditional face-to-face courses in physical classrooms, online courses entail labor-intensive development processes. Online course development is a collaborative enterprise among various talents (e.g., content providers, course developers, learning managers, videographers, graphic artists, illustrators, analysts). Team members must be in constant communication throughout the whole process to keep them on the same page. To help your team get to that page, here’s a workflow consisting of six simple steps to guide you in developing an online course.

1. Design/Plan

Planning or designing the course is perhaps the most crucial step in developing an online course. In planning the course, you must first begin with an end in mind. What do you want the students to learn at the end of the course? Create a big picture of your online course, then break it down into smaller chunks or modules. Arrange the modules according to your chosen instructional strategy and determine how long each module should take. Include in your plans an overview of all the activities in the course. By this time, you should already have an idea about the kind of audience you intend to reach. So you know how to pace the course well and improve on its “digestibility”. Put together such plan and design in the form of a comprehensive course blueprint (sample here).

2. Module Scripts

Content providers can start writing the scripts of specific modules after creating the course blueprint. As you write the learning objectives for each module, indicate how you want your students to demonstrate competence based on specific learning objectives. Doing so communicates to the students what they should expect in the course. The modules must be readable, easily understandable; the relationship across modules also be made clear. A high quality online course would consider substantive interaction between students and teachers. A student might feel distant or unmotivated if the teacher’s presence isn’t felt throughout the course. Phrase module content such that it is interactive and motivational to encourage your students to participate. So your scripts must have these things well considered.

3. Lesson and Module Development

This is where developers have to focus on transforming the scripts and storyboards into media-rich lessons and modules. Having a good course blueprint is one thing. But without the actual skilled people who can wield “magic” on the materials and render them LMS-ready and fit for online consumption, your labors would be for naught. These lessons and modules have to be integrated into standards-based elearning packages as well that you can deploy to different learning management systems (LMS).

4. Quizzes and Evaluation

In some other workflow, you’ll see this part being subsumed in the “development” stage. But I feel that this should be a stage on its own. This is the part wherein the teacher evaluates students’ mastery of the course. The evaluation part of the course is essential to assess its effectiveness. Exercises may be simple question-and-answers (Q&As), discussion prompts, essays, student presentations, etc. Make sure that the quizzes and other assessment exercises are consistent with the course objectives and the overall course design. You may provide incentives to students when they finish a quiz or an evaluation activity.

5. Testing

Before deployment, you will have to make sure that your product works perfectly well. Conduct a pilot test of the online course among the development team, consultants and beta testers (preferably students with similar or the same profile as those of the target audience). Test the product’s usability and its functionality on different browsers. Run a survey or a focus group discussion with your beta testers, and quiz them about the site’s ease-of-use, the course’s accessibility, its materials’ readability. Make the necessary adjustments according to the comments of your testers.

6. Deployment and Monitoring

Once everything gets tested and ready, the course can finally be deployed to intended audience or students. Make room for improvements and be alert to student feedback on usability and revise the course elements accordingly. Direct solicitation of user feedbacks can be done. You may also monitor learning management system logs and activity reports. Set up discussion forums and survey form in the package to hear comments directly from the students themselves.

The line you see in the workflow illustration above is just made up for simplicity. In reality, there’s no linear path to creating an online course. The steps are all inter-connected. A step tends to loop back to earlier steps. Complex the process may be, it’s definitely not an impossible task. Talk to us at moodLearning. We’ll help you get started with your online course.

* originally published at