I am not a big fan of those AI-enabled copywriting and content generation tools that are now mushrooming everywhere online. Several people use them to generate blog posts, articles, essay papers, you name it. This is a blatant form of cheating using robotic means! Period.

Students should definitely not be encouraged to use them and if they do, serious repercussions must be leveled out. Writing is a creative HUMAN endeavor and should remain so. Indeed, several content creators and artists have voiced their concerns over the harm AI technology is doing to creativity and how it nurtures and develops a culture of plagiarism and inauthenticity.

That being said, AI technology is not utterly evil either. It is how people use it that makes it obnoxious. Indeed, AI technology is revolutionizing human knowledge at all levels and across different disciplines. It is behind amazing scientific breakthroughs in different fields especially in the medical and healthcare fields where subtle forms of diagnosis and treatments are now possible thanks to affordances of the AI technology.

For us in education, artificial technology is optimizing students’ learning in ways not possible before, from creating personalized learning environments to catering to students with special needs.

With content generation and especially writing, AI tools are to be carefully approached so as not to say to be completely avoided. These tools do offer various features that can help students in their writing and one of them, the one that is the topic of this post, is paraphrasing.

Paraphrasingcan help students bring clarity to their writing, avoid unintentional plagiarism, and learn new grammatical and lexical structures to employ in their own writing. There are numerous AI-powered online paraphrasing tools students can use but before we talk about some of these online paraphrasers let us quickly discuss what paraphrasing is all about and the steps involved in doing it. For tools to help with grammar and spelling, check out best grammar and spelling checkers for teachers and students.

What is paraphrasing?

According to Cambridge dictionary, to paraphrase is to “repeat something written or spoken using different words, often in a humorous form or in a simpler and shorter form that makes the original meaning clearer.”

As for Quillbot, paraphrasing is about “describing something without quoting it exactly the way it originally was, and instead giving a more general description of the language presented”.

As such, paraphrasing is, therefore, rephrasing ideas using your own words while acknowledging the source of where they come from. Citing your original sources is key to the practice of paraphrasing.

What steps are involved in paraphrasing?

According to the University of South Australia, there are 5 steps involved in paraphrasing:

Read the original text multiple times till you fully understand it.Take note of the main ideas and key concepts in the text.Try to write down your rephrased version without looking at the original text.Compare your version with the original version and make sure you did not use the same words and that the original meaning is kept intact.Include the source of your text.

What is the difference between paraphrasing, summarizing, and quoting?

Students need to know that paraphrasing, summarizing, and quoting are different writing practices. Understanding the differences between them will enable them to avoid inadvertent plagiarism and will give their work more credibility and rigor. As Monash University explained:

Paraphrasing involves rewriting the same idea using different words. Paraphrasing is especially useful when “you’d like to use information from a specific part of a source, but the exact wording is not necessary to make your point”.

Summarising involves capturing the main ideas of a lengthy text into a short and concise summary. Summarizing is helpful when “you’d like to provide an overview of a source, theory, framework, process or method to support your point.”

Quoting is the practice of using the words of another author verbatim. There are different reasons why you may want to use quotes in your writing. For instance, the message in the original text is too concise or is clearly articulated that any form of paraphrasing might compromise its original meaning. There is also the concern of distorting original meanings when expressed in different words. Needless to mention that some forms of text (e.g., a literary excerpt, an interview transcript, etc) are best quoted verbatim from their sources.

Paraphrasing tools

Here are some of my favorite paraphrasing tools to try out with students. Before you use any of these tools, make sure you spend some time educating students on how to use these tools in ethical and responsible way. Remind them to always check the generated paraphrases and make sure they are plagiarism free and to include citations of original sources.

1. Quillbot

Quillbot is an online paraphrasing and summarizing tool. Quillbot helps users improve their writing by providing them with the tools to restructure and rephrase their text in the most appropriate ways possible. Students can use it to rewrite words, rephrase sentences and restructure paragraphs.

The way Quillbot paraphraser works is simple and easy: paste your text in the input box and click on Paraphrase. The paraphrased text is shown on the right box. Quillbot uses different colour highlights to mark the added changes and edits.

For instance, the orange colour indicates changed words, the yellow colour for structural changes, and the blue colour marks unchanged words. Quillbolt offers 7 paraphrasing modes : standard, formal, simple, creative, expand, and shorten. Each mode has unique features, however, only the first two modes are free.

2. Wordtune

Wordtune is another good paraphrasing tool to use to improve your writing. Its Rewrite feature provides you with alternative ways to phrase your sentences, words, or phrases. To start using Wordtune, first install the extension or open the online editor in a web browser. Open an account, registration is free. Once logged in, type in your text, highlight sentences or words, and click on the purple icon above your selection to view rewrite suggestions for the selected text.

Suggestions recommended by Wordtune cover the following areas: fluency (improves the flow of your writing), vocabulary (provides synonyms for repeated words and recommendations for replacing generic words with specific ones), and clarity (recommends when it is appropriate to split sentences to avoid long sentences).

3. OutWrite

Outwrite is another good paraphrasing tool to help you reword your sentences. Some of the features it offers include style suggestions, passive voice detection, multilingual support, plagiarism checker, structural suggestions, and many more. Simply install the Chrome extension, highlight a piece of text and click to paraphrase.

Outwrite works on different online platforms such as Google Docs, Gmail, Outlook, Facebook, LinkedIn, WordPress, among others. Outwrite offers a free plan with limited features and two premium plans (Pro and Teams) with more advanced features.

4. Reverso

The popular grammar checker Reverso has recently added the ‘rephrase’ feature allowing users to instantly reword their sentences and generate accurate paraphrases. Simply provide your original text and the rephraser does the rest.

Other features provided by Reverso include spell checker, grammar checker, translation, dictionary, synonyms, and more. The free version of Reverso is very limited, you need to purchase a premium plan for more features.

5. Paraphraser

Paraphraser.io offers an advanced AI rewriter that lets you paraphrase sentences and complete articles. It also offers a wide range of features to help you customize the rephrased text to fit your content needs. Here is how Paraphraser works: first type in the text in the input box or upload a file. Select a rephrase mode (e.g., Fluency, Standard, Creative, Smarter). Once done, click on Submit.

Some of the features provided by Paraphraser include: the ability to remove duplicate content, rewrite sentences, replace proper synonyms, and more. Paraphraser also offers a plagiarism checker, a grammar checker, and a text summarizer. It works online and is also available for Android and iOS. Paraphraser offers different subscription plans and has a special student package starting at $7.

6. Paraphrasing tool, by Editpad

Editpad has this handy rephraser tool that enables you to paraphrase your sentences with a single click. It offers four paraphrasing modes: the Smooth and Formal modes are both free while the Smart and Improver modes are for premium users only.

Here is how to use the Editpad rephraser tool: enter or paste your text in the input box or upload a file (supported files are .doc, .docx, .txt, .pdf), choose your language, tap on Paraphrase. Rephrased content will be displayed on the right hand column. Check for any instances of plagiarism before you copy and use it.

7. Plagiarism checkers

There are numerous plagiarism checker tools that offer paraphrasing services allowing students to reword their text and generate plagiarism free paraphrases. All of these tools work virtually in the same way: they offer an online editor with two columns: in the first column you type or paste your original text and in the second column you access the rephrased version. Examples of these tools include: DupliChecker, Plagiarism Detector, and Check Plagiarism.