Thursday, January 10

Was The 'DNA of a 21st Century Educator' Plagiarised in China?

This Article in other formats: 


The last time I looked in a mirror, I certainly didn't look like that! However, the 'DNA' slide looks familiar. Oops, it looks like a slide from my 'DNA of a 21st Century Educator' (Version 2) presentation. Awesome! Someone in China has translated my slide, and is sharing it with a group of local and international educators attending a conference (or seminar) exploring the future of education at the Luoyang International School (17 Oct, 2012). Here is another picture that reveals a bit more about this event:

So, what's the problem here?


Yesterday evening (9 Jan, 2013), I got an e-mail from my Norwegian (online) buddy Stian Håklev (Co-founder of Peer2Peer University) informing me...

 Important Links:
(Should the links above be deleted for some reason, please click here to view the presentation and report saved to Dropbox)

WOW! Thanks, Stian for sharing this 'Pretty Hilarious' news with a 'CSI' kind of reporting of the event. Initially, I thought this whole thing was really cool, and I was kind of thrilled that someone would actually go to such lengths to reuse and translate slides that originated from me (WOW, the slides must be really good!). 

I have heard and read that translated plagiarism is a BIG BIG BIG PROBLEM in China, but not in my wildest dreams did I anticipate it would happen to me. Certainly, not like this.

Let's break down the case.


I first gave the 'DNA of a 21st Century Educator' talk during the ''Annual Teaching and Learning Seminar 2012" at USM on the 26 June, 2012. However, the slides that have been reused and translated are from the second version, which was published 19 July (2012) on SlidesShare. Here is my original version:

Since, the Chinese version was presented on the 17 October (2012), we can presume based on existing evidence that I am more likely the author. 

Also, based on the time between both these events (19 July - 17 October), 'Mr. Copytran' (Code name for the author(s) of the Chinese version) had more than sufficient time to translate the presentation slides to Chinese.

The English version has 81 slides compared to 28 slides for the Chinese version. Interestingly, 26 (out of 28) or 92.85% of the Chinese version seems to be visually similar compared to the English version. However, we have to give credit to some critical thinking taking place here, as the 26 slides have been filtered (from 81), shuffled and organized a bit differently compared to the English version. 

Moreover, unless Mr. Copytran used only Google translate (or outsourced the translation), he/she/it/they must have spent considerable time to translate these 26 slides, which I assume requires masterful language ability. Though, since my Chinese is practically zero, I would need some expert to verify this.

Also, we have to give credit to Mr. Copytran for showing amazing ability to manipulate, redesign and delete important aspects of the 26 slides that will be revealed one-by-one next.


Here we go:

Yes, the 'DNA' word has moved from one side to the other (Originality?). Also, the Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0) license has simply vanished from all 26 slides. Also, you notice that the IMU logo(s) are no longer there. 

Interestingly (red arrow), the 'General Plan' logo appears for the first time. As we explore these slides, you will notice that this logo will appear, disappear and even move during its journey over 26 slides. I assume the 'General Plan' logo is suffering from some kind of appearance disorder (perhaps feeling guilty, or perhaps wanting to be associated with important slides and points).  

You notice the logo has repositioned itself on slide 2, as if it is the solution to the question (Say no more!). Besides the translations, not much more to say. Awesome slide, though!

I can't believe that the LIC Facebook poll slide, identifying what (a few) members of this group think are the ingredients of a 21st Century educator was translated. Mr. Copytran please explain; "Why did you include this one?"

 Kudos! I mean, I just reused a stunning mind map explaining Howard Gardner's '5 Minds for the Future'. Mr. Copytran on the other hand, must have spent considerable time translating and manipulating the image. Also, he didn't delete the links (URLs) to the relevant resources, which is good. Though, if he did, surely someone would question Mr. Copytran how he managed to visualize the mind map so nicely.

 Same old story (as slide 4)!

 Same old story (as slide 4)!

 Same old story (as slide 4)!

 Still wondering why 'Route 21' was deleted from the Chinese version? No clues at the moment!

Oops, I mashed up that graphic in 2009 (Evidence) based on Lucifer Chu's wise words during his Keynote at the 2nd International Conference of e-Learning hosted by UiTM (ICEL 2009). So, Mr. Copytran, how did you develop this graphic? You certainly don't have any reference links to support your case, if you didn't develop it.

 Notice that the logo has reappeared and moved strategically beyond my comprehension to a new location. No doubt, my original slide looks better, right?

Jane Hart, congratulations for getting your slide translated!

WOW! Historic moment! Could this be a break through?

Oops, back to basics. Steve Wheeler, congratulations for getting your slide translated!

Now, the logo appears again and has amazingly moved again, too. It is as if the logo is playing a hide-and-seek game with us. Correct me if I am wrong!

I was really happy with this mash-up of mine, and 'Yes' Mr. Copytran does provide a link to my blog post, so thanks for the reference. It is nice to reference our own work, but even better when others reference our own reference. What do you think?

Prof. Rozhan, congrats! Now, your 3-dimensial Technogogy diagram has been translated and hopefully it will be explored further in China. 

Mr. Copytran, not a bad translated copy of the original one. What software do you use to edit graphics? 

 Same old story! This is getting boring!

 Yes, the logo appears again, and believe it or not, it has repositioned itself again, too. Amazing!

 Back to basics!

 Thanks for the translation!

 Jackie Gerstein, congratulations! Your diagram has been translated!

Thanks for including this slide, because this is the one that enlightened Stian Håklev to discover the rest. 

No comment!

This is where I draw the line. Where is your reference to my 'Recap'? Also, why is the logo suddenly appearing again? At least this time it appears the same place as the last time.

Of course there is much more, Mr. Copytran you still have another 55 potential slides (81 - 26 = 55) to translate. LOL!

I just can't believe that you can't even create your own 'Q&A' slide! Take a risk and use your imagination a bit. Come on! Is that too much to ask for?

Is this a case of Plagiarism? Please share your views.


Seriously, Mr. Copytran you must have spent hours translating and manipulating this presentation to meet your desired goals. We should be celebrating your effort for all your hard work? However, that might not be the case, especially if this story goes viral in a negative sense. Maybe, in your mind you didn't do anything wrong, and just maybe you had every right to do what you did.

I am actually not bothered by you reusing the 26 slides from my presentation (That is why I share!), but I am angry and irritated based on the observations shared above that you seem to have deliberately plagiarized some of my content, ideas and recommendations, without giving any form of recognition for it. Also, when I read the Google translated version of the conference report, my ego of any doubt vanished (like the CC license did in your slides). 

 Didn't you realize that the 'DNA of a 21st Century Educator' (version 2) presentation has been viewed more than 31,000+ times by now? Actually, by day 3 or 4 (after publishing it on SlideShare - 19 July) it had already been viewed more than 15,000+ times (was featured as 'Top Presentations of the day'), and cited by numerous of bloggers and educators around the world through varies social media tools (Facebook, Twitter, Google+, blog posts, etc).

More importantly, didn't you realize that this presentation has been published under a Creative Commons license (Attribution - NonCommercial - ShareAlike or CC BY-NC-SA) empowering anyone for free to reuse and remix for non-commercial reasons with attribution. Most of my learning articles, presentations and artifacts since 2008 have been published with such a license, and hundreds of educators around the world have been reusing or remixing them as they like (with attribution), and that is one major reason why I love to share.

However, when a person representing a corporate e-Learning company (General Plan) literally takes my presentation (or 26 slides from it), and presents it at a conference (translated version) without giving any credit (at least on the slides). And then has the cheekiness to put his company logo, and even delete the Creative Commons license from all the 26 slides translated, is something that I find really unacceptable.

It might be flattery (to some), but it is also totally against any principles of professionalism (that I know of).

The best way (in my opinion) to deal with people with such integrity and professionalism is to expose them to the world and remind others that doing such things are not worth the risk.
I can go on, but then again perhaps 'Mr. Copytran' did no wrong. 

In the 21st century you can easily copy or plagiarize, but you can easily get caught, too. And you certainly can't hide online for that long! That is for sure! 

Why potentially waste your career and credibility just for one presentation?

What were you thinking?


Emma said...

Thanks, that was interesting. I've also just read the article you linked to on Unraveling Plagiarism in China (had to use the Google Cache as it's currently unavailable)- what was particularly interesting was the point she'd made about how knowledge is treated in China - in particular the comment: “Stamping out plagiarism means you are elevating out individual ideas; you’re saying your ideas have value and they should be protected,” explains Friedman. “That goes against the grain of the entire societal construct in China and what the government is protecting.”.

Amazing how similar some of the slides were ... - and to not even make the effort to change logos, or maybe Google wasn't banned at the time s/he did the editing, though I know it quite often is :)

Always enjoy your posts, even though I rarely comment.

Michael Hubka said...

Dear Zaid,

This is clearly plagiarism. Have you considered sending the link to your blog to the group that received your presentation?
Michael Hubka

Zaid Ali Alsagoff said...

Dear Emma,

Thanks for your comment. Personally, I think the best way to minimize plagiarism is for the community to detest such practices as unacceptable, and when discovered amplify the crime to such an extent, even people thinking of doing so, would think twice about doing it.

Thanks again and warm regards,


Zaid Ali Alsagoff said...

Dear Michael Hubka,

Thanks for the advice. Will do so after a few weeks. My mission is for them to discover it the hard way first.

If not, then I will bug them with the reality :)

Thanks again and warm regards,


Rozhan said...

Deaer Zaid, I must say this is a dodgy call, to say the least. Look, the whole planet knows that it yours!! No worries there. It you consider as an OER, then the traslation is a good thing. I was kinda excited to see slide 16, Technogogy in Chinese ..never crossed my mind to put in another language. All you need to do now is put back the CC logo and you are done. I think we can come to a amicable solution and at the same time, perhaps educate the Chinese on copyright .. They can translate and use it .. that is the whole idea ,.. but credit where credit is due. Look you've got all of it in Chinese .. how bad is that and you are reaching out to another BILLION maaaan .. coool ..

Zaid Ali Alsagoff said...

Dear Prof. Rozhan,

Thanks for the wisdom! For sure, I am grateful for the translation (Not sure how good it is, though!), but just had issues with the attribution issue :)

However, I do believe the author (Copytran) fully knows what copyright is, otherwise why delete the copyleft (CC)logo on every slide (Accidental) ? :)

Many people reuse and remix my slides, and most of my slides are basically visual expressions or mash-ups celebrating other people's ideas (with a bit of flavor and additional substance), and so on.

So, sharing is part of the game, but without attribution, we should not sit still and simply say...It is alright!

Nope, OER doesn't work well like that :)

All the best and thanks for the wisdom :)

Enas Abulibdeh said...

Dear Zaid
I think u will be a celebrity in china :)
once i asked you to email me your slides and u did same day :) . I used some of ur slides, took pictures and tagged you on FB

the "copytran" didn't know that u will be more than happy to share :)

the translation will help you conduct some workshops in china :) just take one Mandarin short course and vawaalaaaa you will be the GURU

Zaid Ali Alsagoff said...


Thanks Enas Adbulibdeh for that one!

Looking forward to being famous in China and doing tons of workshops on being a 21st Century Educator :)

Also, now I know who to contact if I need an assistant that can speak Chinese fluently and also knows my presentation very well... :)

Thanks again for another gem of wisdom :)

All the best :)

James Morrison said...

Dear Zaid, I appreciate your sharing this information and recommend that you forward this blog to the president of the institution that employed the plagiarist for the presentation, to the plagiarist, and to the CEO of plagiartist's organization (if that is not the plagiarist).

Warmest regards,


Zaid Ali Alsagoff said...

Dear James Morrison,

Thanks for the suggestion. Will do so soon, but hoping he or they will discover it as a 'Good' surprise to their efforts.

I have given myself 3 weeks to make that happen. If unsuccessful, I will e-mail them. No problems about that :)

All the best and thanks again for the support!

Warm regards,


Lili Chong-Careme said...

Dear Zaid, I saw your ppt on slideshare and then got to this blogspot page. Gosh the similarities are uncanny, and I'd say its blatant plagiarism as there isn't a mention of the source of the info at any point. I studied a little bit of intellectual property at school lastime, and we term this as the offence of "passing-off" someone else's work as their own. Normally the offence should be even of a greater scale if its used not for personal use, but for business use- in this case, it looksas if they are also in the business of education consultancy. Wow. I cannot believe it, it is a literal translation of the work, even how to the very details of the images from your slides. Justmy twocents,

Zaid Ali Alsagoff said...

Dear Lili Chong-Careme,

Thanks for your 2 insightful cents...Highly appreciated :)

Warm regards,