As one of the leading LMS (Learning Management System) platforms, Moodle is well-known for its ability to create personalized online learning environments. But although Moodle has been around for over 20 years, has it kept up with modern advances in cheating, plagiarism and AI writing? We’ll take a closer look at what the platform can, and cannot do, in this article.
In order to better understand Moodle’s capabilities, we have to take a step back and look at its development, main features and benefits, as well as how it works.
What is Moodle?
Moodle stands for Modular Object-Oriented Dynamic Learning Environment. It was developed by Martin Dougiamas and released in 2002. With his background in both education and computer science and his experience in distance education, Dougiamas contributed heavily to Moodle’s overall design and function. The platform itself was designed with collaboration, active learning and critical reflection in mind.
What are Some of Moodle’s Main Features?
Moodle offers a number of features and functionalities right out of the box. Being open source, the platform itself is free to download and install. Its open-source nature allows it to have a wide range of plugins and extensions developed for it. These features allow professors and instructors to further enhance its basic capabilities. Moodle’s main features include:
Course Creation and Management - Moodle allows teachers to create online courses within which can be text, video, assignments and quizzes.
A Highly Customizable Layout - Moodle can be fully customized to reflect the branding of the school or institution.
Add-Ons and Plugins - Moodle’s basic features can be further enhanced with a variety of plugins developed within the Moodle community and by third-party programmers for use with Moodle. These include things like attendance tracking, interactive content and plagiarism detection among others.
Built-In Assessment Tools - Moodle incorporates a number of built-in assessments like quizzes, grading and feedback in order to evaluate student performance from several different angles.
Built-In Communication Tools - Since Moodle was originally conceived for feedback and collaboration, it contains a host of different communication tools including online messaging, chat and forums to allow instructors and students to communicate with each other.
Adheres to International Accessibility Standards - Moodle follows international open standards for accessibility, so it can be used by students with different accessibility needs. It also includes support in multiple languages.
What are the Benefits of Using Moodle?
Moodle’s open source design has made it a favorite among numerous schools, institutions and private instructors. It’s continually improved by a global community of developers and its customization and scalability are second-to-none. Owing to its open source background, Moodle is also highly secure and regularly updated to protect against common vulnerabilities and threats.
Moodle is also flexible in its installation and can be installed at a school or college, or in the cloud. Because it faces considerable competition from other LMS products like Blackboard and Canva, Moodle is always being updated to stay competitive and relevant as new technologies come along.
With the rise of AI writing and plagiarism, Moodle has once again been forced to adapt to fight back against ever more sophisticated plagiarism and copying attempts. Let’s take a closer look at how Moodle uncovers such plagiarism and AI writing.
How Does Moodle Search For and Flag Plagiarism?
Moodle itself doesn’t have a built-in plagiarism checker. Instead, as with many third-party add-ons and plug-ins, it relies on external tools that can be integrated into its platform. Some of the most common options include plagiarism detection brands that many in academia are already familiar with, like Turnitin or Copyscape.
Once a tool has been selected and installed, the process itself follows a certain general set of steps:
- First, students submit their assignments through Moodle. The assignments are automatically sent to the plagiarism detection service to be scanned.
- The plagiarism detection service then analyzes the content by comparing it to its own comprehensive database of journals, websites, academic papers and in some cases, other student submissions.
- Once the scan is complete, the service generates a report where any potential plagiarism matches are highlighted, along with sources where that passage or text has been found.
- As with any plagiarism tool, it’s vital that instructors and educators manually review the work to determine if actual plagiarism has occurred and to what extent. False positives can and do happen with every plagiarism detection tool, including those that integrate with Moodle.
- Depending on the tool chosen, educators can adjust the parameters to be more or less flexible when it comes to highlighting plagiarism and detecting similarity. They can then give the student feedback through Moodle, where students can also (if allowed by the educator or administrator) view their originality reports and see their similarity scores.
It’s important to note that all plagiarism detection tools are only as good as the databases or content repositories they have access to. Many plagiarism detection tools in Moodle struggle to identify more advanced forms of plagiarism like patchwork or mosaic plagiarism or paraphrasing.
How Do You Integrate Moodle with Third-Party Plagiarism Detection Tools?
To integrate Moodle with your chosen third party plagiarism detection tool, you’ll need to first decide which tool you want. Different plagiarism detectors have different price points and features. Once you’ve decided on the one you want, the installation process in general is as follows:
- Login to your Moodle site with administrative rights
- Click on the Site Administration menu
- Click on Plugins, then choose Install Plugins
- Upload the plugin file (if you have it) or install the plugin directly from the Moodle plugins directory. Make sure that the plugin is compatible with your version of Moodle
Once the plugin is installed, you’ll need to configure it. Different tools have different options, however overall, you’ll need to follow these steps:
- Go to the Plagiarism Prevention section under the Site Administration menu
- Find your newly-installed plugin and click on its Settings page
- Enter the necessary credentials to connect the tool to your Moodle installation. This often involves an API key, client ID or some other credential that’s given to you when you sign up for the service.
- Set your preferences such as the plagiarism checking level, report generation and visibility settings and any other specific settings that the tool offers. You’ll also want to select how the tool should interact with student assignments.
- Depending on the tool you choose, you might need to enable plagiarism detection at the course level. Look for a section related to plagiarism detection and make sure you set it up according to your preferences.
It’s a good idea to set up a test assignment and submit a document to make sure the plugin is working as intended. Once you verify that the report has been generated and that it’s accessible, you should be ready to start plagiarism detection through Moodle.
How Does Moodle Detect AI-Generated Text?
Although Moodle has integrated with numerous plagiarism detection services almost since its initial launch, AI-generated text is another issue altogether. Just like with plagiarism detection, by default, Moodle cannot identify AI-generated text and relies on third-party plugins to do so.
In April of 2023, Copyleaks, a well-known plagiarism detection service, partnered with Moodle to allow for AI-generated text detection through its scanning service. According to its own website, the Copyleaks and Moodle integration can detect:
- AI-generated content, including content created by ChatGPT and Google Bard
- Multiple types of paraphrasing including source code
- Image-based text plagiarism
- Attempts to deceive the AI detection software
- AI-generated source code and code plagiarism
It also scans documents in over 30 different languages.
However, any third party service that Moodle relies on in order to generate results comes with its own collection of caveats, namely:
Downtime and Reliability Issues
Any third party service that Moodle uses in order to generate a result (such as a plagiarism or AI detection report) can be affected by downtime. If the third-party service is down for whatever reason, Moodle users will also not be able to access it, which can create a backlog.
Data Privacy Concerns
There’s the concern with some third party services that information uploaded to their servers, such as student essays, may not be stored securely or privately and may be kept without the student or instructor’s express agreement or acknowledgement, leading to concerns about data privacy.
Subscription Fees and Usage Limits
There are fees associated with the use of various third-party plugins, including Copyleaks. As of December 2023, Copyleaks’ AI and plagiarism detection plan cost $14.17/month for up to 1,200 credits. Educational institutions have bulk discounts which range from 100 pages per month for $10.99 or up to 10,000 pages per month for $649.99. There is also a free option to scan up to 20 pages at no cost.
Complacency in the Review Process
There is the very real risk that using such tools allows instructors to forego a manual review and instead leave plagiarism or AI detection up to the scanner. However, no plagiarism scanner or AI detector is 100% accurate in every instance of potential plagiarism, so having an instructor manually review the assignment before a final grade is issued is a smart way to help build upon what digital platforms can do by default.
All third party integrations with Moodle have various levels of technical setup and configuration required to use them, which may take time depending on the level of experience or administrative access needed.
Can Originality.AI Be Used with Moodle?
Although Originality.AI isn’t a Moodle-specific plugin, using it offers several advantages over third-party Moodle plugins. Most importantly, Originality.AI offers a number of features that reflect its advanced plagiarism and AI-detection capabilities, which are critically important with the rising use of more sophisticated AI tools.
Originality.AI brings with it a superb track record in detecting AI content generated by the latest versions of well-known tools like ChatGPT 3 and 4. It can also easily differentiate between human and AI-written content, something not found in traditional plagiarism checkers.
What’s more, its robust plagiarism checking process and high accuracy allows it to identify even complex cases of plagiarism beyond a simple copy and paste of text. Originality.AI can easily be used outside and alongside Moodle. Instructors can upload or link to submissions in Originality.AI and then share the results within Moodle within minutes.
For instructors with large classes, Originality.AI’s ability to check multiple documents at once is a huge time-saver. Instructors can opt to scan for plagiarism or AI-generated text or both simultaneously. Originality.AI’s user interface is also incredibly user-friendly, which makes it an excellent option for instructors who may not be as tech-savvy when it comes to installing third-party plugins on a Moodle server.
And last but certainly not least, the reports generated by Originality.AI are detailed yet easy to read. This opens the way for a worthwhile discussion about the use of AI tools and maintaining integrity in academic settings. Data gathered by scanning student assignments in Originality can help institutions see the degree and extent of plagiarism or the use of AI tools by the student body and take steps to rectify the issue before it gets worse.
All of these points, alongside Originality’s helpful customer service and support make it an excellent choice for both plagiarism detection and AI cheating in and outside of Moodle. Originality.AI is available as both a credit-based and a monthly service which allows for a certain number of words to be scanned. Beyond the plagiarism and AI text detection scans, purchasing any plan on Originality.AI also allows instructors to take advantage of numerous other tools including Originality’s readability scan. A monthly plan also makes the platform’s Automated Fact Checker available and allows for use of the tool by an unlimited number of team members. The monthly plan also allows instructors to upload files and see an unlimited number of scan histories in order to go back and preview student work and results from past submissions if desired.
All of these features plus access to future updates and upgrades make the case for using Originality.AI with Moodle a compelling one. Try it now risk-free for yourself and see how the future of plagiarism detection and AI combine with the powerful learning management capabilities of Moodle!