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The Amount Of Laziness Could Fill Up Pages

, , , , , , | Learning | March 18, 2019

I am a college professor and my university uses [Educational Software] to check for plagiarism. The program cannot read documents in .pages format — Mac’s word processor — which shouldn’t be a problem because my university offers Word free for students, but since Apple has all kinds of programs to get students their products cheap, most students have Macs. I warn the students in the syllabus, essay prompts, PowerPoints, and verbally in class to not submit essays with .pages because the plagiarism checker can’t read it, but there are always a few that slip through the cracks. When this happens, I give the students a 0 and ask them to resubmit, with no punishment; the 0 is to get the student’s attention since [Educational Software] has an app, and most students have it, so they get notified when a grade is updated.

This last semester, I had a lazy student who frequently came to class late or not at all, and who was missing several assignments. He turned in his first essay as a .pages document by mistake and I gave my typical response; I gave him a 0 and asked him to resubmit, no punishment. He took almost a month to resubmit, but since I had over 120 students that semester, and since I believe in mercy for students, I still didn’t punish him, even though it was well in my rights to do so.

Cue the end of the semester. I warned my students time and time again that I do not accept the final paper late because my school only gives us five days to turn final grades in, and I’m usually finished in three days or less so I can get to my break. Late work is simply not acceptable.

This same student turned his final paper in 20 minutes before it was due… and it was a .pages document. I followed protocol; I gave him a 0, notified him, and asked him to resubmit, which I technically shouldn’t have done because I said no late work. But, as I said, I believe in mercy.

Three days later, I had all the rest of the grades calculated and I still hadn’t heard from this student, nor had he re-submitted his essay. Since he didn’t have a great grade, anyway, I shrugged it off, thinking he just didn’t see it as worth his time. I submitted the class grades, awarding him a failing grade for the missing essay.

Two days later, he emailed me claiming he had only just now gotten my notifications and had re-submitted his paper… twenty minutes after my final grades were supposed to be due, and two days after I had already submitted them. He begged me to grade the essay.

I informed him that not only was his essay now five days late, but I had already turned in grades and I could not change his.

He fired back with, “But final grades weren’t due until today, right? You still have time.”

I still refused, reminding him, again, that grades were already turned in.

Two months into the next semester, he challenged his grade, demanding I grade his very late essay and give him a passing grade. I was seriously annoyed by this point because this meant I had to document everything that had happened and submit it for review, wasting valuable time.

To double-check his end of things and cover all my bases, I downloaded his original submission and used a converter to open the document in Word, to make sure the original submission matched his resubmission. Having a converter still does not make it okay to submit .pages documents — it still can’t be read by [Educational Software] — but at least I could have the document ready for review.

The .pages document, however, came back blank.

I tried two other converters. Still blank. I sent it to my brother-in-law who owns a Mac. Still blank. I tried downloading the .pages document from his first essay to test the converter and I didn’t have any problems converting it.

Then, I smiled gleefully and sent the information to my department chair, along with this note:

“Golly, Dr. [Department Chair], I was just checking to see if these essays matched, and for some reason, the first submission is coming up as a blank document. Can we have our IT guys look into it?”

Apparently, the student thought he could submit a blank essay to give himself extra time to submit the final essay because he thought I couldn’t open it. Needless to say, the student’s request for a grade change was denied and he’s now on academic probation for dishonesty.