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Change = Conflict

We are all faced with conflict every day of our lives and learn conflict resolution techniques the hard way, by failing to reconcile with a friend or having an exhausting argument with the girl at the counter in Asda over the price of lettuce. But one of the things that will never fail to cause conflict is change. Whether you move to a new place or have to change the shampoo brand you have been using for the past 10 years because the product is no longer on the market, adapting to change is always a cause of distress and requires a set of skills which can help you get past the critical moments.

I do most of the research for my assignments in the University’s library, in a room with about 300 computers, that is filled with students from all years and all courses and can get pretty loud at peak times. It has been close to three years since I started doing my work there, but I never experienced a higher level of stress than the moment when the new Turnitin system was introduced. For years, students in Southampton Solent University had to print out their work, bind it and hand it in at the hatch by 4pm, deadline time. It was a stressful moment, the queues at the printers and binding desk were abominable, but as a student you knew you had to queue up and as a member of staff you knew you would have to deal with jammed printers and running out of binding supplies.

So Turnitin was introduced, a tool which supposedly made everything simple.

STUDENTS FIND OUT ABOUT THE ONLINE SYSTEM

If you are a student in Solent and you find yourself reading this, the words electronic receipt, submission button and electronic cover sheet are just some of the words which caused nightmares in your last year of study. Turnitin was introduced without a BANG, lecturers would inform their students of the online submission system without having had a training themselves, students would cheer at the news that deadline time is now 10pm instead of 4pm and the fact that money spent on printing could now be allocated to the budget to spend on pints at the pub after submission. It was amazing news for any student.

9PM ON HAND-IN DATE

A word document of 6000 words, your report for which you sweated and cursed for weeks is finally done, with all the graphs in the right place, the alignment and font required in the brief, ready to be handed in via the new exciting system. But oh, wait, there’s an online submission sheet which needs to be attached to the document. That shouldn’t take more than 5 minutes, right? WRONG! That was the point when everyone realised that attaching the submission cover results in rearranging all the 6000 words again. It was the first crucial moment in the ongoing conflict about Turnitin. Anticipating this and informing students that all work needs to be written in the document which starts with the electronic submission cover would have diminished the level of stress caused to students, spared lecturers the time spent marking work handed in late and helped the University introduce Turnitin as a viable system. But the lack of information led to the online system being seen as an issue, students fighting for the old system to be reintroduced.

Now, tell me, do you know any other case of conflict that could have been avoided through simply informing the parties involved about changes?

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8 comments on “Change = Conflict

  1. Love the example ;). To be honest, I think all conflicts start because of a lack of communication between the parties involved. People do not communicate enough nowadays and it creates many misunderstandings, which lead to conflicts. As PR and com students, we are quite lucky in some way. We have learnt how it is important to communicate enough, and at the right time, with our audience, especially when it comes to changes. I believe that good communication helps to reduce uneccessary stress, but only a small amount of people get it… It seems that we, as human beings, love challenges. Having a “simple” life wouldn’t be funny enough…

    • I completely agree with everything you said. It’s probably the fact that change=conflict=excitement that triggers the lack of communication in people, but it’s sometimes the fact that people misunderstand how communication can affect the way things go and they chose to ignore certain events. I think everyone found themselves in the position when saying nothing seemed like the better way out and it backfired on them. I think this is what Solent tried to do as well, by portraying the new system as an improvement, choosing to leave out the negative aspects. But that only backfired when it was normally discovered that the system had numerous flows which only made things more difficult for the students. Thank you again for expressing your point of view on the matter.

      • Sorry for the late reply… I agree with what you say. As far as I’m concerned, I think ignoring the negative aspects is actually the worst thing to do. There are no better ways to lose your public’s loyalty and trust…

  2. Good points raised above…. Adding on to those points, the fact that turnitin is not anonymous makes the marking unfair for students. This issue can determine wether a student will pass or fail his module.

    • Thank you very much for the comment. I do think you are right, and I have heard students complain about all aspects of turnitin under various circumstances, especially when I was speaking to people during the Students Union elections on behalf of a candidate. I think students’ opinion on aspects of turnitin should be researched and the appropriate changes made.

  3. Communication is the heart of everything…if they knew how to inform the parties involved, those situations haven’t been created before. Turnitin is a good system that saves us money on printing, but many students encountered so many problems that nobody cared about that led to them developing a resistance to this change.

    • Thank you very much Mihaela for your comment. I do agree with what you said and I do think there are positive sides to Turnitin which could be communicated to students. But the important bit, as you mentioned as well, is listening to students and lecturers as well and taking their feedback into consideration and improving the service.

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