166. Course Villain

A number of online services exist that facilitate academic dishonesty. In this episode, Zachary Dixon and Kelly George join us to discuss Course Villain, a platform they created to detect crowd-sources plagiarism. Zachary is an Assistant Professor of English at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical College, and Kelly is an Associate Professor of Economics, also at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical College.

Show Notes


John: A number of online services exist that facilitate academic dishonesty. In this episode, we discuss one institution’s project designed to automate the detection of academic integrity violations.


John: Thanks for joining us for Tea for Teaching, an informal discussion of innovative and effective practices in teaching and learning.

Rebecca: This podcast series is hosted by John Kane, an economist…

John: …and Rebecca Mushtare, a graphic designer.

Rebecca: Together, we run the Center for Excellence in Learning and Teaching at the State University of New York at Oswego.


Rebecca: Our guests today are Zachary Dixon and Kelly George. Zack is an Assistant Professor of English at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical College. And Kelly is an Associate Professor of Economics, also at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical College. They are co-creators of the Course Villain tool, which is designed to track crowd-sourced plagiarism. Welcome.

Zachary: Thank you.

Kelly: Thank you.

John: Our teas today are:

Zachary: Sparkling water for me.

Kelly:I have hot lemon water for me.

John: Oh, that’s close.

Rebecca: That’s close enough to tea. I have Scottish breakfast.

John: And I have ginger peach black tea. We’ve invited you here to talk about Course Villain. I saw your presentation on this at the OLC Accelerate conference recently, and we invited you here so you can share that with our listeners. Could you give us a brief overview of how this program came about?

Zachary: Sure. Actually, we were at a college faculty meeting for all of the College of Arts and Sciences and plagiarism was kind of up for discussion a little bit. And I’m on the younger side of the faculty, or I was at the time, at least, and Kelly has children of her own to keep her more in touch, I guess, with the digital scene. And so Kelly and I were like, “Well, does anybody else know what’s happening on this place called CourseHero. And so many of our other fellow faculty did not know they’re kind of like, “No, what’s that?” …and we pulled it up on a screen on a laptop and really started to blow some minds. And so Kelly and I started talking about that and just got to the idea that, you know, this doesn’t seem like it has to be an impossible problem. This is more an interesting problem. Let’s see if we can game this a little bit. And we started coming up with some strategies and ideas on how to track this kind of behavior and see if we could use old Google Alerts, it was our first kind of ambitious attempt. We tried to manipulate Google Alerts into telling us when things happened on Course Hero , and it was a terrible failure. It didn’t really show us anything at all. And so that kind of prompted us like,”Wow, we need to do better.” And so we started calling the computer science department and trying to find some researchers, and it kind of just took off from there. We saw this one little issue and we thought maybe we could game it and play around with it, and it’s developed into something fun from that.

John: Could you tell us a little more about how the program you developed functions? What does it do?

Kelly: The program itself is a software function that it’s been built in a number of iterations with computer engineering students, and they use a web crawler and a web scraper. So you would put in your query. John, being an econ major, you would say, “Well, I wonder how much of econ 101 John Kane is on CourseHero.” And so you would put in the query the search features. And then what this program does is it goes into CourseHero, and it then generates hits, which are artifacts. And depending on the time that we have it running, it will generate a report to us, the user, of the 20 most recently uploaded artifacts that meet your query, so you can determine for your class what’s going on. So before it, old school, if you were a faculty member, you’d create a syllabus, and then you want to see what’s out there in the world that would make your course compromised. And at one point in time, we had it scanning once every 24 hours. You can set the duration, we can change it to 12 hours to 24 hours. The report comes back to us, and then we can look at the artifacts. Sometimes it’s a very top level screening by the instructor. We can say, “Yeah, that’s the final exam that shouldn’t be uploaded,” We had an option in the second part of the program is it auto generates that takedown feature that is so difficult to overcome with CourseHero. If you did it manually, if you have 40,000 documents, I think someone at our conference said last year, they generated something to the tune of like 60 or 70,000 takedown requests for CourseHero. And if you’re doing that by hand, that’s more than just one person doing that takedown request because of their requirements. So that was the bigger challenge, I think, in this program was to generate the takedown request. So what we envisioned was this program just kind of constantly working. So it’s constantly scraping and generating reports, and we were generating takedown requests. And Zack was the one who said it’s kind of the old Disney YouTube dynamic and phenomenon. Way back early in YouTube, back in the early 2000s, you can find every Disney movie across YouTube. And then basically Disney’s teams of lawyers and copyright content owners got involved. And they made it so difficult that now YouTube, they have algorithms and they have firewalls where you can’t upload Snow White on YouTube. And so that was kind of like in our perfect world, Where would you want to get to be where CourseHero says “Ah, that’s from Embry-Riddle. We don’t want it. It’s too difficult.”

Zachary: In terms of the functionality of the program, it’s deceptively simple, where really we just kind of built a very carefully tuned search engine, just like Yahoo or Google, where we’re essentially just leveraging the API metadata, that application program interface that the big dogs use. We kind of just built our own smaller version that does what we needed to, and that’s about it.

John: Have you tried using this with anything other than CourseHero, for some of the other sites out there for Chegg and and all the many sites that have been appearing in the last few years?

Kelly: No, not yet.

Zachary: No, we haven’t.

Kelly: It’s on that map of what you want to do. It’s all resources. You’ve got to get students to maintain the program and keep working it and to alter it a little bit. That would be the ultimate goal, to put them on the other big crowdsourced study aid platforms.

Zachary: And following up, it connects back to that leveraging that API metadata and that interface does restrict our ability to move between platforms, because we would have to re-tailor it, so to speak, kind of recut and sew it. And one of the challenges over the lifetime of the project now for coming up on three years has been exactly that, maintaining that interface. CourseHero is also always updating and revising it, trying to get better profiles on the search engines and maybe assumably trying to keep people like us out. So the maintenance keeps this one step working, and then that’s also kind of deterred us from trying other platforms.

John: So you’re searching primarily on the instructor’s name and the course? Is that the criteria?

Zachary: Well, you can define any criteria in Course Villain right now. The only kind of hard tuning we have is that we have manipulated Course Villain to only search for Embry-Riddle content right now. So we’ve restricted the search engine’s functions by our university, and that has allowed us to have better accuracy in our reporting, because before we are getting anything with English 123 would pop up and really cloud the results, so we had to kind of throttle back the scope.

John: One thing I’ve noticed recently with CourseHero in particular, is that my material now is showing up with me at nearby institutions. So students may have tuned into this because I have Eco 101 materials and Eco 350 materials at Cornell, at Syracuse University, and a few other places now, including, I think, one in North Carolina, which is my content that I created, and it has my name there, but students are getting a little bit… not terribly…but a little bit more savvy on trying to avoid detection by instructors. So, that may be something you want to look at.

Kelly: But, I think also one of the explanations for that is, not only our students getting savvy, Lord knows, they can re-engineer anything fairly quickly, instead of just doing the work. But if your material is being recycled, so primary, it’s yours at your institution, and then someone who’s just looking to do a paper or to do something is just plunking around out in the web and steal some of your things and brings it in and then when they recycle your material and upload it, because CourseHero has got that pay for play, you got to upload something. So, I can just upload this material, and then you move into the second and third generation of your material.

John: Interesting. I hadn’t thought about that possibility. Because this was material from last year, some of it was exams from last year. And I just assumed it was my own students who posted it somewhere else to share it with other students, letting them know where to look so that they could evade detection. But the possibility of it being recycled is certainly a real one.

Zachary: Seeing your own work not labeled appropriately. I also saw the same thing. I think there’s also like a level of student error involved where students will like create department names and college names that don’t exist at the university, and maybe they just don’t know. Something else, and Kelly observed this really well in our data analysis, was the issue of student agency is really hot here. And it’s probably like, three steps ahead of where we’re thinking, because students are gaming us, they’re gaming the university, and they’re gaming CourseHero too. They will not just post reasonable material. It could be John Kane’s exam, and it’s just like two lines of nothing text. CourseHero doesn’t appear to have a lot of oversight over their own collection and so the students are really steering the ship in a crazy way.

Kelly: The one thing that made me look at that was when we were doing an analysis on one of the first reports and these four documents for like a physics course kept popping up. And they were like almost management case studies or something like… notes on Boeing or something… they kept popping up. And then I drilled down and what I realized was one student must have been doing the pay for play and the student just took six or seven documents that were readily available, not necessarily their documents, like their paper, where someone could actually go in and if you didn’t remove your name or anything like that you can see. My students examples are always Joe Bagadonuts. So, you know, it’s Joe Bagadonuts’ English paper or economics paper. So this individual was just uploading these PDFs, and these documents, just to get their ticker up so that they can download documents to compromise.

Rebecca: Do students know about Course Villain at your institution?

Kelly: They do now. [LAUGHTER] Marketing finally got ahold of us. We’ve had a little bit of localized publication. And then actually, from that, a fellow colleague of mine, who didn’t know we were working on this, came back and said, “Here’s an idea,” he actually appealed to his students, and said why you wouldn’t want your work up on CourseHero. And through that, in his small class, he was actually pretty successful in getting them to take down the work. And because I asked him, I was like, “How did you do that?” And he said his line was “Well, I asked them politely,” but then he gave an explanation of how he appealed to students. And it got me thinking that, in our next iteration, instead of just trying to prevent or catch the plagiarism after the fact, that that would be a good preemptive strike, to create some type of a PR campaign with our students in our university to say “Here, you can help us out here. This is why you don’t want your material up on CourseHero.” So if we came at the problem from both ends, it just hadn’t slipped our mind. That was eventually our end goal. My end goal was always that as a university, our honor code system would expand so much that our students had so much pride in the honor code system, that they would work to elevate that. And that would be one idea of how to start out that prong of the research.

Zachary: One interesting student dynamic has been our student researchers, our programmers. So we’re pretty proud of the fact that we have funded all of Course Villains so far with internal grants through the university, and we’ve only employed student programmers to do the work. Neither Kelly nor myself are capable programmers. I can maybe throw together some HTML if I tried, but we really have been leaning heavy on our student programmers. And they’ve had a really positive response to this experience. They’re aware of CourseHero when they come into this and the kind of that ilk, and I think they appreciate the hacker mentality that we kind of foster. We kind of have a cool proverbial David and Goliath situation here, this kind of huge onslaught of material and this kind of corporate juggernauts. And compared to just a couple faculty members and a small budget, it does create a cool atmosphere. And I will say, with no judgment on anyone using or not using CourseHero, though, when we do get our student programmers involved and we kind of sit down and talk about it, I definitely get the sense that diligent students appreciate this work in that it is combating something that they understand undermines the quality of their education experience.

JOHNr: How have your colleagues responded to the reports you’ve generated on the frequency of materials from their courses appearing on CourseHero?

Kelly: Shocked. It would shock any instructor. Disheartened, and then engaged. They want to use our software right away. And, because not only do they want to pre-empt, they want to get their own material taken down. They want to catch the students that are flagrantly violating academic integrity, and they want to use it. So, they’ve sprinted way, way ahead of us. So, the motivation is there. I think it’s a matter of trying to figure out where in the grand piece of the puzzle of our institution that this product can work.

Rebecca: How many takedown notices has Course Villain created or generated?

Kelly: I was not prepared for that question.

Rebecca: Oh. We can cut it out.

John: I hadn’t thought of it either., but it’s a good question.

Rebecca: But I am curious. [LAUGHTER]

Kelly: No, I wouldn’t take it out. I just think, wow… That’s a good question. Actually. We were too busy the last two years. The first year we did was “Could we create this mousetrap?” The second year was dedicated to “How well does this mousetrap work?” And then this next year, this year that we’re in, was really a question of “How can we incorporate the use of this? How effective is it? And how do we incorporate it into our instructional design process and get it into our workflow to where it helps us rather than becomes just an obstacle you had to come around?” So we don’t have the data on the takedown requests. I’m gonna get it though. [LAUGHTER]

Zachary: The early experiments that I can definitely recall and speak to on the takedown requests have been pretty largely unsuccessful insofar as CourseHero is looking for specific amounts and specific kinds of verbiage in that takedown request. And since we’ve been more focused on, like Kelly said, program development and stabilisation, we haven’t been able to focus in on “What is that verbiage that we can achieve from a programmatic perspective? Like, “Can I make Course Villain say the right thing that will work every time?” or do I really have to work with an instructor level basis, like “You’re gonna have to supply this part of it,” because we can auto populate the whole form and send it on. But, so far, the couple dozen I’ve tried (focused on trying to make the thing work) have all gotten bounced back to me, you know, “More information is needed.” Essentially, you need a better argument. And the next step is largely experimental. Like, what is that? And it’s a lot to do with institutional workflow, really clarifying, like, whose intellectual property is what and why? What are we able to defend and argue? Some of these are questions for the development team, for Kelly and I, some of these questions for administration at our university, to help us chisel out here, to have that ability to kind of go back to CourseHero. You get to that legal end of things and things get weird, I think.

Kelly: Within our college, I just taught a master’s level class and now all the major assignments that are submitted in this research levels class does have the copyright at the bottom. Remember, Zack, about a year ago, we were talking about that? Well, if all Embry-Riddle submitted assignments had this statement at the bottom, like in the footer of the assignment, then it would be protected. That was one of the ways to combat the changing language and requirements of CourseHero. So if you can say “No, this is copyrighted, I’m a representative of Embry-Riddle. So, you do have to take this information down.” But I did notice that, in the last class that I taught, the research methods, that that was a fundamental change.

Zachary: There is also a pretty murky or wicked issue in terms of disciplinarity. And what exactly students are posting in there. And so there is kind of a level of judgment that has to be made where, “is this appropriate to be taken down? Is this truly our/my/the university’s intellectual property or just does that belong to the student?” And as I study academic integrity, and plagiarism, in particular, that line is really down to communities of practice, professional organizations, disciplines, courses, and instructors themselves. So that line has to be teased out too. That’s kind of worth mentioning.

Rebecca: So in addition to tools like this, what are some other strategies you’ve seen faculty in your department or at your college start implementing to help reduce the use of sites like this? You mentioned one faculty of doing an intervention. [LAUGHTER] Have you heard of other things that faculty are doing perhaps as a result of you’ve been hearing about Course Villain, and CourseHero?

Zachary: Well, I know one large-scale institutional change is we’ve actually revised the Student Code of Conduct to include these kinds of sites and the behavior of sharing work. It is defined as plagiarism, as a violation of academic integrity, to even be involved. Still, that kind of leads to weird and murkyish paths, where “Can we track down someone based on a name on a document and an avatar on an open site?” I don’t know. That kind of these legal things that go beyond my simple English professor life and knowledge. But changing the Student Code of Conduct was a big one. And I think in STEM fields, physics, math, I know we talk a lot with a faculty about micro changes to assignments, where you don’t have to do a lot to revise a mathematics or a physics equation-based assignment: change decimals, change units, change little things here and there that can really fundamentally alter the structure of an assignment. And that makes it more resilient in terms of how it’s shared and used. And from an English Composition perspective, my best work against plagiarism has always been to encourage students to follow their own passions and ideas, to write about what they want to, to let students guide topics and selections as much as they can. And then to complement that with long-term scaffolding where you’re gonna pick something and we’re gonna work on that something all term. And so if you’re committed to plagiarizing in that context, then that’s a whole lot of dedication I’m not prepared to counter at the moment, but otherwise, it’s like, “Well, if I get to choose my adventure here, maybe I don’t have to go steal it.”

Kelly: Yeah, I was gonna piggyback off of Zack with “It’s the authentic assignments.” Having taught this last half year to a year I’ve been teaching a lot of the upper-level research methods class, where these are the students they’re rolling into their thesis, we call them capstones. So they start with the problem statement. Each problem statement is unique. Getting the data… the data has got to be the most recent. I did have one student that I think he must have had some material. And about halfway through the class, he realized that the authenticness was going to be removed fairly quickly, and he was going to be found out, because he changed pretty quick about halfway through the semester he said, “You know, I’ve got a better idea” and did all that. So it’s just building a better learning experience for the student. Unfortunately, it’s a better learning experience for the student that’s born out of this malicious behavio.r

Zachary: And otherwise, at Embry-Riddle, we also do operate with TurnItin software, there are investments being made in lockdown browsers, and two or more factor identification to try and get at some of the more complicated forms of contract cheating that are… I don’t think they’re pervasive… but they are very hard to deal with.

John: Have you requested any funding from your university in developing this package?

Kelly: Early on with the university, we filled out our university intellectual property, and you meet with the intellectual property office. And the whole idea is: “Is there some technology that you can eventually move into some type of a commercial project out of the academic world into the commercial world?” And I think maybe we weren’t just expressing ourselves. I almost feel like it was Shark Tank. We had this idea, but it wasn’t a business yet. It was a great idea. We had some kind of functionality, but it wasn’t a business yet. It just wasn’t developed enough yet for them to be able to take it out and market it around. Because now there is a team in our IT department {we’re on the committee) where they put out a request for proposal. And it was for software that helps combat plagiarism and things of this nature. So we haven’t seen the proposals that have come back in. But it seemed to us this was a tool that you would think that one of these educational learning management systems would be interested in taking and incorporating into… we all use Canvas… if that was integrated into Canvas, where not only just a turnitin report came up, CourseHero or one of these other crowdsourced platforms would come up as well. So the request for proposal’s out, we haven’t seen anything in there. But it would be interesting if we could re-engage the Intellectual Property Office at our university to see if there’s really, as Jerry Seinfeld would say, “Is this something?”

John: Along those lines, I know Lumen Learning, who produced the Waymaker personalized learning platform, have put together an API that automatically checks the web for postings of their questions and content. And they do use a lot of algorithmic questions so that each student gets a different version of the question. And I believe some publishers have started to do this. I haven’t checked that myself. But it would be nice if the arms race could escalate a little bit more on the side of deterring academic integrity violations. One of the things that’s happened, though, on the other side is many departments had picked up departmental subscriptions to places like CourseHero, because one thing that many of us are troubled by, myself included, is having to pay $15 or $16 a month for a subscription to a service primarily engaged in facilitating cheating. And many departments have created departmental accounts. And Chegg, for example, now, is only allowing you to use a given account on specific computers. So, you’re limited to the number of computers that you can connect to. I had my own account for this for a while now, because I teach a lot of classes where these things come up. But, I know some departments had created departmental accounts where many people were using the same account, cheating a little bit on the instructor side, to try to shut some of this down at a lower cost and without subsidizing them quite as actively. But more and more places are starting to move their stuff behind a paywall, which may make it a little bit harder to detect some of these violations.

Zachary: Well, John, I’ll follow that up. Actually, the College of Arts and Sciences here at Embry-Riddle Worldwide, we’ve also purchased a kind of college subscription for the same access. And Course Villain isn’t exempt from that kind of dependence either, because one of the really annoying issues we stumbled into early, was CourseHero’s own document preview limits, where you could only view 10 documents… their cover page, so to speak… before they would ice you out and give you kind of a grade. This is only for your eyes only kind of situation. And if you don’t have that paid access… that limit. So paying for it does kind of peel back that one layer and at least give us the option to view the artifacts and help correlate them. But that’s tough. But I also want to come back to the kind of arms race idea. If I had just my closing stump speech for Course Villain, it’s that it doesn’t have to be a very difficult arms race. It can be kind of an arms walk, where I’m really excited and pleased with our development of Course Villain and we’ve accomplished that with about $8,000 of internal funding. $8,000, two faculty members, and we’ve hired two research assistants… two student programmers… over the course of these couple years. And we’ve developed what we have. And I think our model is replicable. If we’re not going to create a product that the university wants to sell to other people. I really encourage other universities, other faculty, other interested researchers to start coming up with your own low-cost mousetraps, because that’s all it takes is kind of just chipping away at it, and before you know it, we will find that corner, that inroad, that kind of loophole that allows us to make really good work. It’s not out there. We don’t have to wait for publishers and juggernauts to do it. We can handle this. I really am confident in that.

Kelly: And we actually had this conversation after the last conference, should we have one more conversation with our university with the Intellectual Property Office of our university? Or do we just turn around and say, here’s the open source, go forth and provide it to other universities, and do our own crowdsource of how to combat it and see where it can go from that?

John: That could be an interesting project where other institutions may contribute work on other platforms, where people could get a menu where they could choose what to look for, and perhaps some people could specialize on generating those takedown requests. So that it wouldn’t require the work of just a few people there, it could be distributed more widely. That would be an interesting possibility.

Kelly: I bet there’s a grant in there somewhere, Zach.

Zachary: I hope so. [LAUGHTER]

John: Are there any other things you’d like to share with our listeners?

Zachary: If there’s one thing I would add that I don’t think I got a chance to really frame in the strongest sense that I wanted to at the conference, is the idea that what’s also at stake in this kind of scary moment, as we talked earlier about how people are finding themselves forced into this digital environment. And it’s easy to have your breath taken away at the scope and scale of this problem of people sharing coursework in kind of an illicit fashion. The other opportunity there is that we’re suddenly getting more data than we’d ever dreamed of. For my research from looking back at the histories of plagiarism of academic integrity violations. When you try and find the hard numbers of frequency or prevalence of this behavior, it doesn’t look like the Internet has really changed the nature of academic dishonesty, it just brought it into a new venue. And that makes it look scary, because now it’s like, “Oh, it’s happening fast and on really big scales.” But this kind of fundamental issue appears to remain largely the same. But what’s changed is our ability to understand and track that problem, because now it’s not between hands, under desks, or in dorm rooms or in the hallways where it could never, or very rarely, be tracked down. I think of like the kind of investigatory efforts invested in like the Naval Academy plagiarism scandals, where you have to track down students and interrogate them, and like bring them against charges, to get them to rat each other out, and then you expose this network of plagiarism when it was really just some people sharing something in a problematic way. But now that’s rendered in this digital space, and that’s a really cool opportunity to re approach a lot of our old ideas about how, why, these things happen, and put us in touch with a really cool new data set about this behavior that I think can help us understand how and why people commit academic dishonesty.

Kelly: I do know of one graduating student that I’ve advised along the way, and he’s going into the cyber security world. So here’s a huge world. He’s going through lie detector tests and background checks and things like that. And one of the things that he thought of was, they ask like, “Have you cheated in your coursework?” And he had to think, “Okay, with CourseHeroe, is that considered cheating?” It’s certainly unethical. Well, I guess that’s a whole ‘nother podcast in of itself. But we think it’s unethical, it’d be interesting to get someone on the other side, arguing that it wouldn’t be. I don’t know, if I was going for any kind of security clearance or anything like that, I don’t want to be defending that choice to the investigator that I may or may not work for at some point in time.

John: I think one takeaway, though, from your discussion is that we can design our courses in such a way so that it’s not so easy just to copy and paste solutions into questions. And we can come up with better ways of assessing learning, which many people have been working online have been doing for many years now. But with the sudden transition of so many faculty online, who are trying to, as in the early days of online instruction, replicate what they were doing in the classroom in an online environment, it just doesn’t work in the same way. And we need to work with things that work better in this medium.

Kelly: Yeah.

Rebecca: This has been a really interesting conversation, really providing some new perspectives on things that I think will help faculty think through these things a little bit more. We usually wrap up by asking: “what’s next?”

Zachary: I think what’s next from a research perspective is Kelly and I are on track to track brand new course material from its online birth, so to speak, and to track it long term, kind of one course or one assignment. What does that course look like? What is its kind of online life look like… almost like tracking a single butterfly, like a monarch, as it goes from point A to point B. I’d like to use Course Villain to track one really specific thing and try and flesh out that narrative. So, just like I mentioned earlier, to get at that “What’s happening here beyond the obvious?” And I think that’s a cool way this tool facilitates that.

Kelly: I would like to also go into strengthening the student portion of this, try and to get them engaged and come at it from that point. I’d like to do some work in there and thinking about working with my colleagues. Then also I’ll work with the workflow. How can we put it in our workflow? We’re are all trying to be so efficient, so you can’t come up with a unique thing every time a course is run. So I’d like to see where in the workflow that will go, and get more students involved. There’s one group of students that we really gave free rein to, because we weren’t paying them and it was during COVID. Also, we just said, “Here’s some source code, here’s the problem, what would you do with it?” …and we kind of threw it at them. And they went on to “Oh, we’re going to have it learn and go…” And one student was really big into AI, so he was going to work with them. And so that was kind of fun. I’d like to reengage them and see what they would do with it. They’re the students. They’re the ones with the better ideas.

Zachary: And I’ll throw a shout out there to Embry-Riddle Prescott campus… that’s their cybersecurity club. We basically gave them a clone of the tool and we’re like, “Hey, play with it. See what you can develop.” They’ve been really hip on the idea of machine learning. And how can we get Course Villain to figure out its own prerogatives and do its own tracking work without so much supervision?

Kelly: They each had, like a specialized talent. And one, I really think it would work more efficiently if we hosted it using this language instead of that language. And I said, “Sure, go ahead”. He was a little taken aback like “You’re not bought into that.” And I was like, “No, you guys are the creators. Go for it.

Rebecca: So, it’s pretty exciting to see how it might have a life of its own.

Kelly: Yeah.

John: Especially if it becomes an AI bot, somehow. [LAUGHTER]

Zachary: Yeah, absolutely.

Zachary: I love your idea, John, of a Linux model. I’d like to see some version of this program or some version of a program like this. Getting back to that kind of David and Goliath narrative, if we can all chip in some small piece to a project like this, we could develop something that’s really cool, that I think could give these kind of sites and their prerogative a kind of a tough run for their money.

John: You could always create a GitHub site or a SourceForge site, and then people could work on it from there.

Zachary: That’s a good idea. Thank you.

Kelly: A GoFundMe page. [LAUGHTER]

Rebecca: You might get a lot of takers on that.

Zachary: I just hope we don’t find the code itself on CourseHero. [LAUGHTER]

Kelly: Yes.

Zachary: That would be very disheartening.

Kelly: Imagine that takedown request.

Zachary: That’s right.

John: Well, thank you. This has been fascinating, and I think this is an area that many people are concerned about, and this was very informative. Thank you.

Kelly: Oh, thank you.

Zachary: Rebecca, John, thank you so much.

Rebecca: Thank you. I hope it sparked a lot of ideas.


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Rebecca: You can find show notes, transcripts and other materials on teaforteaching.com. Music by Michael Gary Brewer.