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apps to deter online translation?

  • 1.  apps to deter online translation?

    Posted 16-04-2020 12:00

    We, like many, are carrying out our college-level ESL courses online now.
    Unfortunately, it appears students are using translation extensions in their Chrome browsers to translate English material into their L1, which is problematic for reliable assessment, especially in terms of our higher-stakes reading assessments, where students are being assessed on their comprehension of English-only passages, vocabulary, etc.

    We currently deliver assessments through our institution's LMS (D2L Brightspace). My institution hasn't us to employ exam proctoring services so as not to incur cost on students. Therefore, a service like Examity is not an option for us at this point.

    Is anyone aware of a workaround or way to deter inappropriate use of translation via internet-delivered assessment?

    A colleague suggested using Google forms and/or taking a screen shot of the to-be-read text and turning it into a picture file instead of raw text (which may confound browser-based translation apps). Has anyone done or tried this?

    At this point, I don't mind personally investing in software (as I don't want to pass the cost onto my students) or putting in the additional time/labor, but am hoping there may be some other (relatively) low-cost approaches to increasing proctored assessment security and reliability.


    Rob Freeman
    Chairperson, Language & Culture Department
    Delaware Technical Community College
    Wilmington, Delaware
    (302) 571-5318 (office) and (814) 592-3610 (cell)

  • 2.  RE: apps to deter online translation?

    Posted 17-04-2020 10:14
    Hi, Rob - 

    Your college's IT department may be able to help. If students log in through a university portal, the IT department should be able to control which apps and which sites students can visit. If that's not an option, a JPEG file should probably confound an online translation app or site that "reads" the text, but it won't prevent students from typing the text into a translation app or site. I'd touch base with the IT department first to see what can be done.

    Best of luck!

    Lori Randall, PhD
    Retired Coordinator of Multilingual Learning, Denison University
    Granville, OH
    The spirit of the world, which is selfishness and envy and conspiracy and lust and terror, makes men loud from the fear of their own hollowness. But the Spirit of God gives them peace, teaches them not to be afraid of silence but to find themselves in quiet. 
    ----Thomas Merton, The Waters of Siloe

  • 3.  RE: apps to deter online translation?

    Posted 18-04-2020 03:57
    It is relatively easy to substitute screenshots of the target texts for the original digital texts as Lori Randall suggests. I have often done this in the past.

    If the time required to respond is sufficiently short, students would not have time to do much more than look up an individual word or two while taking the assessment.

    Thomas Robb
    Professor Emeritus, Kyoto Sangyo U.

  • 4.  RE: apps to deter online translation?

    Posted 28-04-2020 00:19
    Hi all,

    I'm sorry to say, but the Google Translate app on a phone deals just fine with any written image in any file type. The attached pic shows English to French translation of a jpeg image, which granted is better than English to an East Asian language, but the point is that file types do not protect against instant translation anymore. Students would be able to translate reading passages, True-False, Matching, and Multiple Choice Qs, and Essay prompts quickly.

    Maybe there's something I'm missing about certain files blocking translation? I'm afraid there may be nothing to prevent it anymore.

    All the Best,

    Kent Hill
    Humanities - ESL Program
    Shoreline Community College
    Shoreline, WA

  • 5.  RE: apps to deter online translation?

    Posted 17-04-2020 12:24
    Running the documents through the anti-plagerism app would likely deal with the worst type of copy-paste cheats.  Now if we're talking of the strong receptive/weak productive student that is overusing a tool, that is easily detected in interview and presentation.  I guess that your institution has to  be also interested in enforcing academic integrity standards.  If you look for cheats, and find them you must also follow up, and those students need to know that there is no room for cheating.  We can always help those that need help to master L2, but never by cheating.

    Regan Albertson
    Academic Coordinator
    Progressive English Services, SRL
    Dominican Republic