Webinar: Exploring the Impacts of Text Generating Technologies on Academic Integrity

March 12, 2021

Academic Integrity webinar series

Join us for our final webinar in our Academic Integrity: Urgent and Emerging Topics series hosted by the Taylor Institute for Teaching and Learning at the University of Calgary. I’ll be hosting two incredible presenters who are experts in Generative Pre-Trained Transformer (GPT-3) technology. Ryan Morrison and Michael Mindzak will wrap up our series with a truly emerging topic that #academicintegrity advocates, scholars, and practitioners will want to know about.

Session Description

Natural language processing (NLP) has advanced rapidly in recent years, to the point where algorithms can now generate focused texts that are increasingly indistinguishable from human writing. OpenAI’s Generative Pre-Trained Transformer (GPT-3) has been at the forefront of these developments, with major implications for language-based assessment from Kindergarten to postgraduate levels.

With this technology becoming publicly available in January 2021, educators will have to readily confront some difficult realities regarding the assessment and evaluation of critical writing and the nature of both plagiarism and authorship.

Beyond GPT-3, there are other text and research generating technologies on the horizon which embolden the impetus for educators and researchers to reconsider the definition of academic integrity.

In this webinar, attendees will explore a short history of text generators, examples of GPT-3 generated texts, and possible ideas and approaches to addressing these technologies practice.

Learning outcomes

  • Understand the current state of algorithmic writing
  • Interpret the impact that text generating technology will have on academic integrity
  • Generate ideas and approaches to addressing the problematic impacts through curriculum design

Facilitators: Ryan Morrison and Dr. Michael Mindzak, PhD
Date: Friday, April 9, 2021
Time: 10:00 – 11:30 a.m. Mountain time (Please convert to your local time zone)
Location: Online via Zoom

Space is limited and registration is required. Register here.

Please note: This workshop will be recorded, registration will close on Thursday, April 8, 2021 at 1:00 p.m. (Mountain Time) and a Zoom link for the webinar will be sent to you the morning of the workshop.


Ryan Morrison (M. Ed. (IT), TESL) is an English language and Communications professor with the Centre of Preparatory and Liberal Studies at George Brown College in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Fulfilling the role of an educational technologist within the school, outside of the classroom, he investigates trends like AI and digital tools for 21st century education.

Michael Mindzak (PhD) is an educator and educational researcher interested in the intersections of work, schooling and society. More specifically, his research focuses on educational policy issues, the sociology of work, as well as technology in the contemporary period. He works in the Faculty of Education, Brock University, Canada.


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This blog has had over 2 million views thanks to readers like you. If you enjoyed this post, please “like” it or share it on social media. Thanks!

Sarah Elaine Eaton, PhD, is a faculty member in the Werklund School of Education, and the Educational Leader in Residence, Academic Integrity, University of Calgary, Canada.

Opinions are my own and do not represent those of the University of Calgary or anyone else.


On Becoming an Academic Integrity Activist: Reflections on the Impact of COVID-19 on Scholarly Identity

March 9, 2021

Image courtesy of patrisyu at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of patrisyu at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

** This is a reprint of an essay archived online. Please cite this work as: Eaton, S. E. (2021). On Becoming an Academic Integrity Activist: Reflections on the Impact of COVID-19 on Scholarly Identity. University of Calgary. http://hdl.handle.net/1880/113130 **

During the COVID-19 pandemic I have evolved from being an academic integrity advocate to being an academic integrity activist. I have learned that being an activist does not require being an antagonist. Some activism is big, bold, and public and other kinds are quiet, discreet, and cooperative. Standing up for what matters is important no matter how you do it.

In a book chapter I am writing with Dr. Natasha Kenny for Academic Integrity in Canada (forthcoming, 2021), we discuss how academic integrity work is often invisible. It involves conversations with individuals, small groups, and big committees. These conversations can be unscheduled and informal or they can be formal and demand a ton of preparation, including reports and slide decks. All too often, these reports are internal documents that never become publicly available. I expect many schools have collections of such reports and documents that never see the light of day. These are the invisible artefacts of integrity.

In academia, the work we do must be visible in order to receive recognition in regular performance reports, and applications for promotion and tenure. But much of the work that many of us do as academic integrity leaders, researchers, and activists is entirely invisible. I am sure I am not alone when I become frustrated beyond words when administrators and colleagues demand “evidence” for aspects of this work that are in a pre-evidentiary state. When I – and others – started becoming vocal a few years ago about the ways in which contract cheating companies blackmail students, we were mocked by some colleagues as being sensationalist and dismissed by others who insisted that unless we had “evidence” that we had no business to be making such claims.

When Yorke et al. (2020) published their article on blackmailing of students by contract cheating companies, the academic integrity community finally had evidence to substantiate what we had been talking about for years. When Australia’s national quality assurance body for education, the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency (TEQSA), developed an infographic to help promote awareness about how contract cheating companies blackmail students, that further legitimized the conversation. Over time, we will gather more evidence and have more conversations about the insidious practices of contract cheating, but the underlying issue of critics shutting down conversations about important issues due to lack of “evidence” remains problematic.

During the Black Lives Matter movement, a number of academic integrity advocates began having conversations about how particular student groups are over-represented in academic misconduct reporting. This is a topic that Tracey Bretag addressed in her workshop, “Academic Integrity and Embracing Diversity” when she joined us at the Canadian Symposium on Academic Integrity. There is some evidence from other countries that students from particular backgrounds get reported more often for misconduct than others, but as yet, we have not collected data on this in Canada. Let’s get one thing straight: Just because we have not yet collected data on a problem does not mean that the problem does not exist.

In 2020, I produced a discussion paper about why we need more data relating to student misconduct to better understand how and when students from particular groups might be over-represented (Eaton, 2020). Critics (particularly in my own country of Canada) emerged from the woodwork to demand “evidence” that there was injustice and implicit bias with regards to which students get reported for misconduct. I am paraphrasing, but the general gist of the comments was, “until you can prove to me that international students do not cheat more than domestic students, then I don’t believe you.” I carefully try to explain that those who get reported for misconduct may not include everyone who commits misconduct. The critics are not interested. Their myopia prevents them from entertaining the idea that a problem might exist even in circumstances where formal data are not yet available. Once again, we find ourselves in a pre-evidentiary state.

Insisting on having “evidence” for invisible work is frustrating, and at times it seems downright ludicrous. Many of us who work in academic integrity research are working as fast as we can to conduct research and gather the necessary data. As I have pointed out in an article I co-authored with a graduate student a few years ago, in Canada, very few researchers have successfully received any federal funding to study these questions (Eaton & Edino, 2018). I will keep applying for federal research grants to study these topics. Until then, I do the work anyway, because it is important and urgent.

For me, doing academic integrity research is not an ideologically agnostic endeavour. This work is not values-free.  It is entirely values-laden. When one studies ethics in educational contexts we do not do so because it is merely an intellectual endeavour. We are not dispassionate, detached, or objective. In many cases, we are passionate not only about the work, but about change that can result because of the work. For many of us, academic ethics inquiry is intertwined with advocacy. We do this work because we care deeply about our students, our colleagues, and the systems that are supposed to support us all.

I have had many sleepless nights mentally preparing for conversations about academic integrity and ethical issues in education, particularly during the pandemic. These conversations may happen quietly or behind closed doors, leaving no trace that they ever occurred. The impact of the conversations can change the trajectory of how individuals or organizations act. Just because work is invisible does not mean that it does not have impact. And in the world of academia where we are under constant and unrelenting pressure to show the “impact” of our work, much of this work will continue to go unrecognized by our superiors. But we do the work anyway knowing that sometimes the invisible efforts are just as effective – if not more so – at creating lasting change.

Dr. Leslie Reid, the University of Calgary’s Vice Provost Teaching and Learning, has commented to me more than once that change happens “one conversation at a time”. During this pandemic, my identity as an academic integrity activist has definitely evolved. I recognize that I must undertake the invisible work in addition to – not instead of – the visible (and quantifiable) work such as research articles, book chapters, books, conference presentations, and so on. But like so many others who engage in this work, I know that the invisible work matters.

I will be an activist on my own terms: having one conversation at a time, sometimes publicly, but also (and often) privately. But no matter how those conversations happen, they matter.


Bretag, T. (2019). Academic integrity and embracing diversity. Workshop presented at the Canadian Symposium on Academic Integrity, Calgary, Canada. http://hdl.handle.net/1880/110278

Eaton, S. E. (2020). Race-Based Data in Student Conduct: A Call to Action. Retrieved from Calgary, Canada: http://hdl.handle.net/1880/112157

Eaton, S. E., & Edino, R. I. (2018). Strengthening the research agenda of educational integrity in Canada: A review of the research literature and call to action. International Journal of Educational Integrity, 14(1). https://doi.org/10.1007/s40979-018-0028-7

Kenny, N., & Eaton, S. E. (2021). Academic integrity through a SoTL lens and 4M framework: An institutional self-study. In S. E. Eaton & J. Christensen Hughes (Eds.), Academic integrity in Canada: An enduring and essential challenge: Springer.

Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency (TEQSA). (2020). Contract cheating and blackmail. Retrieved from https://www.teqsa.gov.au/sites/default/files/contract-cheating-blackmail.pdf?v=1591659442

Yorke, J., Sefcik, L., & Veeran-Colton, T. (2020). Contract cheating and blackmail: a risky business? Studies in Higher Education, 1-14. doi:10.1080/03075079.2020.1730313

Related Reading

Eaton, S. E. (2020). Academic Integrity During COVID-19: Reflections from the University of Calgary. International Studies in Educational Administration, 48(1), 80-85. Retrieved from https://prism.ucalgary.ca/handle/1880/112293

Eaton, S. E., & Turner, K. L. (2020). Exploring academic integrity and mental health during COVID-19: Rapid review. Journal of Contemporary Education Theory & Research, 4(1), 35-41. Retrieved from http://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.4256825


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This blog has had over 2 million views thanks to readers like you. If you enjoyed this post, please “like” it or share it on social media. Thanks!

Sarah Elaine Eaton, PhD, is a faculty member in the Werklund School of Education, and the Educational Leader in Residence, Academic Integrity, University of Calgary, Canada.

Opinions are my own and do not represent those of the University of Calgary or anyone else.

#ICAI2021 Re-cap: My Reflections on International Collaborations

March 5, 2021

I was delighted to take part in three sessions for the International Center for Academic Integrity (ICAI) conference, which was held online this week. With over 1200 registrants, this was the largest ICAI conference ever.

In terms of my own contributions to the conference, this year I focused on collaborative work with others. For me, this means that the work is conceptualized and developed jointly, every step of the way. The end result is stronger, more interesting, and more dynamic than if it had been created by any one individual alone. In an article I co-authored with Rachael Edino a few years ago, we showed that academic integrity research in Canada has mostly been small scale and has lacked collaboration across institutions and across countries. Ever since, I have been on a mission to actively engage in and promote research collaborations that not only include researchers from multiple institutions, but extend to international partnerships, too. I am super excited to say that goal was certainly achieved through collaborative presentations at this year’s ICAI conference, as I had the opportunity to showcase work with 6 colleagues and 1 PhD student, spread out across 7 countries. Here’s a recap:

Student Perspectives on the Impact of Race in Educational Surveillance and Proctoring Technologies

Parnther & Eaton #ICAI2021 Slide 1

Ceceilia Parnther, St. John’s University, USA

Sarah Elaine Eaton, University of Calgary, Canada

Presentation date: March 1, 2021

# of registered session participants: 349

Parnther & Eaton #ICAI2021 Slide 2

Session re-cap: We brought a critical race perspective to electronic and remote proctoring technologies that have become prevalent during COVID-19. E-proctoring is a rapidly growing technology for higher-education institutions. Although this technology is promoted as a method to promote academic integrity by offering faculty control over the remote testing environment, students have expressed concern and anxiety about these monitoring tools. Specifically, students note anxiety and discomfort resulting from the use of these tools. These feelings may be exacerbated for students of colour due to the algorithmic biases that position whiteness as normative. We interrogate the ethical complexities of e-proctoring and other academic integrity technologies through the lens of equity and diversity.

A Chilean Perspective on Academic Integrity During COVID-19: Analyzing Possible Benefits and Challenges of Online Learning Communities

Moya & Eaton #ICAI2021 - Slide 1

Beatriz Moya Figueroa, University of Calgary, Canada

Sarah Elaine Eaton, University of Calgary, Canada

Presentation date: March 1, 2021

# of registered session participants: 78

Overview: Beatriz is a new PhD student studying with me at the University of Calgary. This session marked Beatriz’s debut into the international academic integrity community. Due to COVID-19, Beatriz has remained in her home country of Chile throughout the pandemic and has not yet been able to physically come to Canada. She has been getting to know members of the Canadian academic integrity community by joining into our weekly Integrity Hour. This experience of working virtually across several months during Beatriz’s first year as a PhD students served as the basis for this collaborative session.

Session description: The COVID-19 pandemic pushed Chilean universities towards a quick transition into emergency remote teaching. Moreover, faculty identified a rapid increase in academic misconduct cases and the need to promote an academic integrity culture in their institutions. This new scenario called for new strategies to exchange academic integrity practices to help face the pandemic’s obstacles. In this presentation, we analyze the possible benefits and challenges of online learning communities for Chilean higher education institutions inspired by the experience of the Canadian “Integrity hour” online learning community. We also discuss new opportunities as the effects of COVID-19.

You can check out the video recording of our session here.

Publishing Your Academic Integrity Research: Advice From the Editorial Board of the International Journal for Educational Integrity

IJEI Presentation #ICAI2021

Sarah Elaine Eaton, University of Calgary, Canada

Tomáš Foltýnek, Mendel University in Brno, Czech Republic

Zeenath Reza Khan, University of Wollongong in Dubai (UOWD), UAE

Thomas Lancaster, Imperial College London, UK

Ann Rogerson, University of Wollongong, Australia

Presentation date: March 4, 2021

# of registered session participants: 77

Whova - Screen Shot 2021-03-05 at 12.13.28 PM - IJEI

Session recap: We offered an interactive workshop on how to publish your academic integrity research. This session is offered by editorial board members of the International Journal for Educational Integrity.

Learning Outcomes:
Understand what makes excellent quality academic integrity research; what is publishable in a high-quality peer-reviewed journal and what is not; Understand how to prepare a manuscript for submission to a peer-reviewed scholarly journal; Learn how the journals’ scope and submission guidelines are important for prospective authors; Discuss pitfalls of the publication process and how to avoid them; and Gain insights into what double-blind peer review is and how it works. Check out an abbreviated session recording here.

Reflections: This session was the most logistically complex, by far. We had 5 presenters co-presenting in real time from 5 countries across 5 very different time zones. The session was held at 14:00 Eastern, which meant that Ann Rogerson was just rolling out of bed at 06:00 the next day in Wollongong. Needless to say, she arrived with coffee in hand. Meanwhile, Zeenath Reza Khan was looking forward to going to bed after the workshop, as the session was starting at 11:00 p.m. for her over in Dubai. It was noon for me in Calgary, 19:00 for Thomas Lancaster in the UK, and 20:00 for Tomáš Foltýnek in Brno.

This was the first time the five of us had ever co-presented together and our preparations for this session happened entirely asynchronously, using Google slides and also corresponding via e-mail to prepare the entire presentation. We each had slides assigned to us to speak to, but due to the time zones, we did not do a practice run for the session. For me, this was the most incredible presentation as it was truly a privilege to collaborate with so many dedicated colleagues from so many corners of the world. I can’t say for sure, but I think we might have been the most internationally diverse presentation team at this year’s conference.

Concluding Reflections

The conference organizers did a tremendous job of planning and delivering an excellent online event. None of the sessions I took part in either as a co-presenter or as a participant had any technical issues, which really speaks to how much preparation went into this conference prior to the event and “in the background” during the conference itself.

As others with expertise in educational technology will attest, the technology works best when it is invisible. That is to say, when there are technology problems, everyone turns their focus to the tech issues, often at the expense of developing human connections. In this case, the technology itself was very much invisible and the opportunity to connect with fellow collaborators in a very human sense was a highlight of the conference for me.

I think the most remarkable part of co-presenting all of these sessions is that the virtual environment facilitated and provided opportunities to collaborate across countries and time zones. Although I have had the pleasure of meeting Ann Rogerson and Thomas Lancaster in person at previous events, I have yet to meet any of my other fellow collaborators “in real life”. I very much look forward to the day when that happens.

In expect that by the time we get the meet face to face, it will be like meeting old friends and we will slip into conversations and laughter easily. To be able to collaborate with so many international colleagues from across continents was a special and remarkable aspect to this virtual conference.


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This blog has had over 2 million views thanks to readers like you. If you enjoyed this post, please “like” it or share it on social media. Thanks!

Sarah Elaine Eaton, PhD, is a faculty member in the Werklund School of Education, and the Educational Leader in Residence, Academic Integrity, University of Calgary, Canada.

Opinions are my own and do not represent those of the University of Calgary or anyone else.

Why schools need “safe sharing sites” for students: Promoting academic integrity with ethical approaches to file-sharing

March 3, 2021

#ICAI2021 - Eaton quoteCommercial file-sharing and homework help sites have proliferated during the COVID-10 pandemic. One recent news report states that Chegg is now worth $12 Billion USD. And that’s just one company.

During the 2021 International Center for Academic Integrity conference, there were a few sessions dedicated to how to deal with companies such as Chegg, CourseHero and other commercial entities. One answer might be for schools themselves to create “safe sharing sites” for students.

The idea is similar to that of safe consumption sites for those who use drugs to do so in a monitored and safe environment. The purpose of a supervised or safe consumption site is to support harm reduction for users.

To transfer the analogy to academic file sharing, if students are going to share files anyway, it is incumbent upon schools provide them with safe and supported ways for them to do so. Safe sharing sites can promote ethical decision-making, minimize academic misconduct, and foster a sense of school community where profs, administrators, and students are working together to uphold integrity.

The onus is on educational institutions to support students’ learning. When schools invest in student learning through institutionally-supported tools and platforms, they support the student experience. Developing safe sharing sites is one viable way to address the problem of unethical file-sharing.

Putting resources into trying to combat global corporate entities whose primary purpose is to make a profit from our students is a losing battle. Putting effort into submitting requests to take down materials from corporate third party sites is like a game of whack-a-mole we can never win. As I commented in one of the conference presentations during the ICAI conference: Schools paying for a commercial file-sharing site account in order to find out what is on their website is like paying a drug dealer to find out what is in their pills. When schools pay for an account on corporate 3rd party sites, we help to finance the industry we are advocating against.

As educational institutions, we must find ways to work with our students, not against them. File-sharing is a normal online behaviour, so let’s provide students with the tools to do what they are going to do any way in safe and supported ways that help them – and us – uphold integrity on our campuses.


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This blog has had over 2 million views thanks to readers like you. If you enjoyed this post, please “like” it or share it on social media. Thanks!

Sarah Elaine Eaton, PhD, is a faculty member in the Werklund School of Education, and the Educational Leader in Residence, Academic Integrity, University of Calgary, Canada.

Opinions are my own and do not represent those of the University of Calgary or anyone else.

Research update: Highlights from some current projects

February 9, 2021

It seems I have a lot of academic Integrity research projects on the go these days, so I thought I’d do a post about some of this exciting work and the amazing people I’ve been collaborating with.

Academic Integrity and Mental Well-Being

As part of my Educational Leader in Residence, Academic Integrity role, I wanted to connect some of my research to the University of Calgary’s Campus Mental Health Strategy.

I’ve been working on with two terrific graduate students, Helen Pethrick and Kristal Turner on a new project, Academic Integrity and Mental Well-Being.

So far, we have one publication from this project. Exploring academic integrity and mental health during COVID-19: Rapid review was published in the Journal of Contemporary Education Theory & Research in December 2020.

Our second paper is under peer review, so stay tuned for details on that later.

Academic Integrity: Faculty Development Needs for Canadian Higher Education

This is the inaugural project associated with the D2L Innovation Guild. This project is the first of its kind in Canada. There has never before been a multi-institutional project, with representation from across multiple provinces, that has also partnered with industry in pursuit of a common unified goal with regards to academic integrity.

This collaborative, multi-institutional project included researchers from four Canadian provinces:

  • Sarah Elaine Eaton, PhD, Principal Investigator, University of Calgary
  • Katherine (Katie) Crossman, PhD, Co-Investigator and Study Coordinator, University of Calgary
  • Brenda M. Stoesz, PhD, Co-Investigator, University of Manitoba
  • Kim Garwood, PhD, Co-Investigator, University of Guelph
  • Amanda McKenzie, MA, Co-Investigator, University of Waterloo

We have publicly registered our project on the Open Science Framework. You can check out details about our project here.

You can check out our project brief, which is available as an open access report (Crossman et al., 2019). This project is now complete and we submitted our final reports to the D2L Innovation Guild Board on February 8, 2021.

Contract Cheating in Canada: National Policy Analysis

 This is an exciting project that I began developing in 2018. I wanted to create opportunities for Canadian researchers to do scholarly inquiry into contract cheating. I received mentorship from Dr. Tracey Bretag in the early stages of this project. She had led a team in Australia to conduct academic integrity policy research there. She coached me on how to conduct a similar project in Canada. As a result, I launched Contract Cheating in Canada: National Policy Analysis.

The specific objectives of this project are to:

  • Identify existing components of academic integrity policies and procedures related to contract cheating;
  • Identify gaps in existing academic integrity policies and procedures related to contract cheating;
  • Evaluate the policies and procedures against existing standards for post-secondary education policy (i.e., Australian Government: Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency (TEQSA), 2017; Higher Education Academy [HEA], 2011) with a focus on supports that have been developed for students and other campus stakeholders (Bretag et al., 2011);
  • Compare supports available for undergraduate students and graduate students; and
  • Develop and communicate recommendations for policy reform.

This national project is sub-divided according to regions of Canada and types of post-secondary institutions (e.g., colleges and universities). Different teams have been involved with each of the smaller sub-projects, with individuals from a particular region studying the policies from their own regions.

We’ve already had some great publications out of this project, the most recent of which was published in Educational Policy.

Degrees of Deceit: A Study of Fake Degrees, Diploma Fraud and Counterfeit Credentials

I am working with Jamie Carmichael at Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada, on a project to better understand fake degrees and fraudulent credentials in Canadian higher education.

Check out our webinar recording about this work. Some very cool resources we have already produced out of this work include:

A slide deck from our webinar session.

Counterfeit Credentials: Top 13 Recommendations for Higher Education Professionals (Infographic)

Scholarships without Scruples (Infographic)

We are also working on an edited book on this topic. More details on that will be coming soon…

These aren’t all the projects I have on the go, just a few I wanted to highlight here. Feel free to get in touch about any of these projects. You know where to find me!


Share or Tweet this: Research update: Highlights from some current projects

This blog has had over 2 million views thanks to readers like you. If you enjoyed this post, please “like” it or share it on social media. Thanks!

Sarah Elaine Eaton, PhD, is a faculty member in the Werklund School of Education, and the Educational Leader in Residence, Academic Integrity, University of Calgary, Canada.

Opinions are my own and do not represent those of the University of Calgary or anyone else.

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