Attendance at this years Summit, gave the opportunity to share experiences with other academic institutions on how turnitin is being used to improve academic writing.
Concerns on the availability of turnitin, particularly at peak submission times, are being addressed by adopting a much more robust “cloud based” database solution which offers greater security, speed and up-time.
There has been a significant increase in the number of support staff available to us here in the UK, many of them now based in Newcastle, an acknowledgement of the importance of the UK as the second largest market for their product.
In 2002, turnitin reported they had received 1 million submissions. By 2016 this has risen to 636 million.
As an institution, we have seen significant growth in the number of submissions to turnitin over the past six years much due to the adoption of online submission and feedback as part of the LTA Strategy and also the flexibility of the system in accepting different submission types.
Turnitin can now accept files of up to 40 Mb and where “text matching” is not relevant, of any type. An example of this might be an audio file or photograph.
It is also possible to have a “no submission” assignment, where the portal is only being used to deliver feedback to the student on a performance or artifact for example.
Turnitin has many competitors, but their database of over 160 million articles makes them very much the market leader.
The latest developments in their web crawler allows them to dig deeper and faster into some of the more regularly visited sites (Wikipedia as an example).
They have described this new development as “Walker” to indicate the improved performance. Previously it took 17 days to crawl the complete Wikipedia website – it now takes 5 Hours. They continue to work with publishers and product users to ensure their database remains current and relevant.
A new feature set is currently under development by Turnitin at the moment to improve the detection of “ghost writing”.
Last year was the first time that our University had seen a malpractice incident involving ghost writing and with the proliferation of web based companies offering these services, something that is sure to continue.
It is imperative that we remain alert to this and express a clear position to our students on malpractice and its penalties as well as providing support for academic writing.
Perhaps the most significant announcement during the summit was on Feedback Studio, the improved interface for marking student assignments. Some of you may have tried an earlier iPad only version.
Mark Ricksen, the product manager gave a demonstration of this much more friendly user interface. It follows on from the iPad version which was introduced last year and produces a much more readable text with increased functionality in terms of identifying issues within the students writing. This includes the ability to highlight text, comment using different colour pens for second marking and the ability to use hyperlinks to specific external student help resources.
Some of our lecturers are already using audio feedback which is available in the Classic version that we are currently using. Its three minute maximum length is sometimes considered inadequate as is the current 5,000 character limit imposed on the general comments area.
I was able to discuss enhancements in this area with Mark including extending these limits and providing the ability to attach files to the students submission to give additional feedback using a proforma or perhaps a working solution to a problem.
Hopefully some of these requests will be adopted before we move to this new version over Summer.
For those who might prefer the existing version, returning to Turnitin Classic is a simple click away.
A demonstration of the new Feedback Studio is available with a walk-through followed by the opportunity of trying it yourself. This demo was created earlier this year and does not show some of the latest features.
The ability to hide the side bar, when the particular tool is not being used, makes it easier to read the main text of the document. This version uses responsive web design based on the available viewing device and works very well across all screen sizes including Android based tablets.
Much greater emphasis was placed on the turnitin user community at this forum. With contributions from staff at the University of Edinburgh, Newcastle University, University of Huddersfield and the University of East London a broad range of subjects were discussed.
Many of them have already made the move to Feedback Studio and it is the University of Edinburgh’s tool of choice for electronic management of assessment (EMA).
Earle Abrahamson from the University of East London demonstrated the use of feedback to support the academic development of their students, many from under represented backgrounds. The ability to create his own set of structured comments using hyperlinks to further support materials, has been instrumental in improving student writing.
Steve Bentley showed how gamification could be utilised as a tool to reduce student anxiety around plagiarism.
Alison Graham discussed the Newcastle University project to clarify marking criteria and ensure that feedback is linked more closely to rubrics. Students were given the opportunity to mark some written examples themselves based on provided marking criteria. There was some evidence that this had boosted engagement and increased understanding of what was needed to achieve better grades.
Perhaps you would like to try rubrics in your next turnitin assignment.
Rubrics can be created directly within turnitin. If you already have an electronic version of a marking grid, it can be edited using Excel and then simply imported into turnitin. Please contact any of the learning technologists within AQD if you would like some support with this.
Andy Robb – Senior Learning Technologist