The Saeculum Decoded
A Blog by Neil Howe
Sep 102010

The answer to on-line plagiarism is for faculty to ask Millennial (born 1982-200?) to do something more creative and interesting than simply to turn in a mindless encyclopedia entry “essay” on some utterly generic topic—like the Great Depression.  Have students invent and defend their own unique point of view on a topic.  I’d be less interested in whether they copy this or that part than whether the whole thing hangs together.

Here’s what’s interesting.  If, one year out of college and working at Accenture, a Millennial is asked by a boss to prepare a quick background on (say) the black market trade in terra cotta figures in and out of mainland China, no one will mind at all if he or she lifts some parts of the memo (say, the part on the origin of terra cotta ceramic) from Wikipedia.  Indeed, the employee will probably be praised to working quickly, not wasting time, and focusing instead on the issues that are unique to the client’s problem.  We need to get higher ed to redesign the curriculum so that the skills they test are aligned better to the skills that have real valued added at the frontier of today’s professions.

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