A UNISA technology administrator has received the prestigious Turnitin 2018 Global Innovation Awards which recognizes educators, technology administrators, institutions, and students who are passionate about academic integrity and champion the innovative and effective use of Turnitin’s solutions to support learning.

Turnitin commended the honorees for their commitment to promoting original writing and authentic work across disciplines and educational levels.

This year’s overall winner is Erica Flinspach, senior integrity officer and Turnitin administrator for the University of South Africa (UNISA). With over 400 000 students, including international representation from over 130 countries worldwide, Unisa is one of the largest university systems in the world and the largest distance education institution in the southern hemisphere.

Flinspach recognized that promoting academic integrity amongst Unisa’s vast, diverse, and geographically dispersed student body would require more than simply adopting a technology. She and her colleagues put policies and practices in place that encourage a culture of ethical behaviour at scale. Turnitin serves as one of the bridges that convey this culture between the students and supervisors.

“We are a very big mixture of different cultures. Our students approach academic integrity in different ways, as do our lecturers and other staff members. For this reason, we put policies in place to encourage integrity. That is also where I play a role, not only with Turnitin as a programme but to be a champion for integrity and the way that it is grown within the university,” says Flinspach.

“Unisa’s vision is to be the African University shaping futures in the service of humanity,” says Professor Hugo Lotriet, director for the School of Interdisciplinary Research and Graduate Studies.

He added: “Academic integrity is foundational to this vision. It requires dedication and innovation in the use of the tools and processes that support the cultivation of ethical practices in all aspects of the university’s operations.”

“Unisa is delighted that its dedicated champion of Turnitin and iThenticate, Ms. Erica Flinspach has received international recognition for the work that she has done by developing an innovative and excellent approach for the effective and efficient use of these software applications in one of the largest universities in the world, he said.

Along with Flinspach and UNISA, 7 other winning educators and institutions from Australia; Columbia; Korea; New Zealand; South Africa; Spain; the United Kingdom; and the United States were commended by Turnitin.

“This year, a topic that resonated throughout the Global Innovation Awards applications was the role that academic integrity played in cultivating meaningful connections between educators and students,” said Turnitin CEO Chris Caren. “Each year, we are struck by the dedicated educators that go above and beyond to instill integrity, deliver formative feedback, and support students in discovering their authentic voices. We are honored to hear and share their stories.”

There were 916 nominations in this year’s awards, with the finalists representing 17 countries. An international panel of academics and previous finalists picked this year’s winners from each of the seven global regions in the category of Excellence in Academic Integrity. An overall Global Innovator and runner-up who have gone above and beyond were selected from the finalists. In its four-year history, the Global Innovation Awards have recognized over 200 individuals and learning institutions for outstanding efforts and contributions to education with integrity.