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Maria del Olmo Bañuelos, Digital Learning Coordinator and Teacher of English at Les Roches International School of Hotel Management, champions a combination of digital literacy and academic integrity in her institution. This year alone, Maria has triumphed in communicating the principles of academic integrity to 800 students, spanning a tremendous 65 nationalities. Recognizing that cultural differences and old-fashioned values play a significant role in misunderstanding the importance of original writing, Maria holds regular workshops to teach both students and her colleagues about the consequences of plagiarism.

“I think academic integrity is something that has to be fully internalized. It’s a way of thinking and working that should permeate our behavior. Academic integrity is not just for scholars to worry about, and avoiding plagiarism is only one of the components. It's about honesty and transparency, about acknowledging the work of others, and building upon it, using robust and reliable methods.”

Maria joined Les Roches in 2012 as a teacher of English and dissertation supervisor. Soon after, Maria expanded her remit into digital learning after she identified an urgent need for this method of learning within her institution. Maria is now an advocate for Turnitin usage at Les Roches; she continuously promotes its time-saving and integrity-focused benefits to her colleagues, which has resulted in an ever-growing interest in the software. “We started incorporating Turnitin into courses and did some workshops with the teachers. As soon as they saw what it could do, they wanted to use it.”

Growing up, honesty and empathy were always valued traits to Maria and her family - who are also professionals in education - so naturally, her work at Les Roches is no hardship. “I find it strange to be considered for a prize for something that I love so much,” she highlights. Maria firmly believes that the promotion of zero tolerance in any walk of life allows no scope for learning and development. She is passionate about helping her students learn through open and honest communication, always providing them with the opportunity to learn from their mistakes, and effectively move forward without prejudice.

“At this point, academic integrity and digital literacy need to be taught together, and both must be addressed by educational institutions. Undergraduate students frequently lack key skills in these areas, regardless of whether or not they 'should' have them. If we want to instill academic integrity, we are going to have to contextualize it: explain it in terms that will resonate in this digitalized and globalized world.”

Congratulations, Maria del Olmo Bañuelos!

Maria’s commitment to her work knows no bounds. Recently, she joined Turnitin in Madrid for its first hosted event in Spain. As a valued guest speaker, Maria delivered an exemplary presentation on strategies for promoting educational honesty; she reflected on her own experience encouraging academic integrity, not only with her students in her classroom but also at a larger, school-wide level. Maria stands by the belief that if all of her colleagues and students understand the importance of academic integrity, this will reap long-term, reputational benefits for everyone. We certainly agree!

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Interested in reading more? Check out all of the 2018 Global Innovator stories here!