The Dark Side of the Force: The Issue of Microplagiarism in Microlearning

January 31, 2007 at 7:28 pm | Posted in Austria, Friends, Learning English, Microlearning, Plagiarism, Teaching English | 1 Comment
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Surprise! At the end of the day, I manage to crank out another post, as I, even more surprisingly, managed to crank out a paper before the day ended.

It’s a proposal for the Microlearning conference in Innsbruck this summer. An old school mate pointed me to it, and its going to be nice to attend the conference with him. Provided they accept us.

The last conference (no surprise) was fairly male and age-dominated, even if they managed to push the lady on the left into the frame a couple of times.

Microlearning 2006

Anyhow, here is the abstract of my proposal:

The Dark Side of the Force:
The Issue of Microplagiarism in Microlearning

Based on the analysis of authentic examples of plagiarism in student assignments, this article proposes the term ‘microplagiarism’ to describe a new kind of plagiarism which uses relatively short sections of arbitrary sources and combines them to form a bigger, seemingly unified text. The authors examine to which extent learning through plagiarizing may be an effective strategy in some areas of language learning and discuss the difficulties in separating microlearning from microplagiarism. The current gap between the digital and the academic sphere and their methods of circulating and continuing knowledge is identified as a cause for the increase of plagiarism. While the hope is expressed that the Semantic Web will take care of this issue, it is suggested for the time being to minimize the risk by setting students tasks that don’t encourage plagiarism.

My five favourite Google Earth Oddities

January 31, 2007 at 8:08 am | Posted in Art, Globalization, Google, Web 2.0 | 30 Comments
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I’ve never discovered a Google Earth Oddity myself, and I doubt that I ever will (although I’ve tried): Scanning the surface of the globe for an interesting squaremetre is definitely a too tedious job to be considered a possible path of fame. But I like looking at other people’s discoveries – have a look at my little collection!

EDDIE! FUCK!
I find it difficult to make up my mind, but at least for this brief moment this one is my favourite: Strong language spelled in wheat on a field outside Little Houghton in England.
Eddie
53°32’19.41″N 1°20’47.87″W

THE PINK BUNNY RABBIT
This is the runner-up – an artwork created by Italian (I think) artist Gelitin and captured by Google Earth. I like this in particular because I first saw it in a book (and posted about in October 2006). Even if Gelitin isn’t Italian, the bunny is (or was, but it’s hopefully going to remain on GE).
Pink Rabbit
44°14’39.30″N 7°46’10.98″E

Mantra set in ice
This is particularly neat: A Tibetan mantra (said to mean “om mani peme hung” according to the source forum) carved into the ice of a glacier.
Tibetan Mantra
32°54’36.35″N 97°02’52.00″E

BRUCE AND DAN ARE HAVING A GOOD TIME
Or saying hello, or living here. Proof for the fact that smileys are always endearing. Captured in the USA.
Bruce and Dan
47°14’28.03″N 122°31’46.16″W

M
Whoever or whatever. Also made in the US of A and hopefully not a PR-Stunt – although, even if it were, this is probably nothing more significant than the logo of a local football team.
The M
39°44’41.09″N 105°14’23.95″W

I found all these gems in the fark forum.

If you want to give it a try yourself, download Google Earth (it’s free AND runs on both PC and Mac:-) and enter the coordinates which I’ve specified below each picture.

EDIT: I had another favorite Google Earth oddity but wasn’t able to find the link for some time. I’ve dug it up now, but only to discover that Google Earth itself (i.e. the company) does quite apparently NOT appreciate the idea of Google Earth oddities – they photoshopped that giant bug belonging to the order of Thrysanoptera (vulgo: Thrips) away that was roaming the fields outside Aalen in Germany! That’s surprisingly anti-Web2.0 from them – erasing the traces of users’ discoveries. I managed to find a screen shot of the location from the time when the bug was still there (see below):

Google Earth

But if you have look at the site now (link to location on Google maps online, you might want to zoom out a bit), you’ll find that it’s gone. No more. Dead. You can even see where it was, as the new patch of soil they added does not blend in well – different shades of green. Pffff… I hope they are going to give us our bug back some day!
Google Earth

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