Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Use Mahara Journal for Students to Show-Your-Work?

Is anyone using Mahara Journals for students to provide evidence of having work over days or weeks? Robert Lyon hinted at this, when he wrote: 

"It appears to me that students can "game" assignment deadlines by creating incomplete Journal entries before the assignment deadline, then editing them after the deadline, since the Journal entry time stamps don't update after editing..." From forum:

This was later fixed with each journal entry displayed showing both a "Posted on" and "Last updated" timestamp. I tried this out on Mahara and it seems to work. But is anyone using this? In practice, do students understand what to do and in particular not to make updates to journal entries (so it looks like they did all the work just before the deadline).

STEM professionals and in many other disciplines are expected to keep detailed records of their work. This is for intellectual property protection, accountability, and well as normal management of activities. Occasionally I am asked to be an expert witness for a court case when a computer project fails. I trawl through all these records to see what when wrong, and importantly, when. Some disciplines have specialized tools, such as Git for computing and Electronic lab notebooks, such as SciNote for medical research.

So it would be reasonable to require students to keep records, as part of projects and assignments. This should not require additional work for the students as they should be doing this as part of their normal work. If students are not doing this they are not doing their work professionally and so can expect a lower grade (all the way down to zero). This is apart from any penalty if it is shown the work submitted was not their own.

For students not using specialized tools, e-portfolios may be sufficient, such as Mahara Journals. It would still be possible for a student to contract cheat, by having someone else prepare the journal entries for them to post. However, this would require a level of forethought and planning. The student could also provide their password to the contractor to make the entries, but that would open the student and contractor to charges of criminal conspiracy, as well as misuse of a computer system. This would be in addition to legal penalties for the contract cheating.

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