The number of schools using plagiarism-detecting software to catch students cheating in their coursework has doubled in the last two years, pertaining to the increase in the number of incidents of plagiarism.
As many as 90 schools and 130 colleges are using the Turnitin database to cross check children's work with online material.
AdvertisementBarry Calvert, of nLearning, which provides the software, said that the youngsters need to be sensitised about the use of the online material and also how to formally credit and reference sources, rather than just picking chunks of text from the internet and passing it off as their own.
"Although the sample of students is small, the results are indicative, statistically robust and rather disturbing," the Guardian quoted Dan Rigby, an economics lecturer at Manchester University as saying.
Rigby also found that 45 percent of students were certain a peer had cheated during an essay, report, test or exam in the past year.
Students received more than 4,400 penalties in 2009, and the number handed out by staff was up 29 percent.
"We need to get students to understand that the internet is not just some kind of information smorgasbord you can turn to - it's actually somebody's work that needs to be credited and sourced in the same way as you would other sources," Calvert said.
But the Internet also has a positive effect on learning, Calvert added.
"When I was a child our local library used to be sick of the sight of us saying 'has that book come back yet?' because there was only one book on the Vikings or the Romans. So on the one hand the internet has opened up a greater opportunity for everybody to learn, but on the other it's created that opportunity for people to just cut and paste," he said.
The figures come at the beginning of a three-day international conference into plagiarism at Northumbria University organised by the nLearning-funded Plagiarism Advice Service.