Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Creating a central Turnitin service

As some of you may know I have been getting my head round creating a central service to support Turnitin of late.

I'm the main university lead for doing this and also institutional contact for Turnitin so I thought it would be a good idea to introduce briefly what I am doing and why....

What are we doing?

As the title suggests, we're looking at creating a central support service for users of the Turnitin text matching service. “Users” in this case includes both staff (academic/professional services/managerial etc) and students.

Why are we doing it?

Our Learning Technologies Team offers staff and student support for Turnitin already - and this includes resolving technical issues, pedagogical/learning and teaching advice and providing “how tos”. We also have a small set of online resources.

However, there are a number of reasons why that site is not as useful as it might for us or our users. These include:

1.) The site is out of date by 4 years, some of the information is now inaccurate
2.) Content is mostly static text
3.) Key areas of support are missing - particularly with regard to turnitin functionality,
4.) It is quite difficult to find the information you want,
5.) It doesn't cater for all of our audience- i.e mostly staff facing

Turnitin has “grown up” a bit from the early days into a useful electronic learning and teaching tool. Its add ons, GradeMark and PeerMark, contain some functions that can ably support teaching, whether it be areas such as e-submission, provision of feedback or peer review exercises. Creation of this support service I hope will provide us with a platform to dispel some of the more negative press that Turnitin gets as just being a “plagiarism detector!”*

What central support might there be instead?

This will include enhanced resources, along the lines of:
  • Introductions to Turnitin
  • How tos: including screencasts
  • Links to Submit.ac.uk resources
  • FAQs
  • Using Turnitin in Learning and teaching
  • Links to copyright information
  • Links to 'Unfair means' information
  • Information about integration with our virtual learning environment, MOLE
  • Current issues and updates
  • Training
  • Support Contact number/s and email response
  • Using Turnitin direct
  • Links to discussion
The aim is to connect with other sources of support for good academic practice, providing staff development sessions and keeping the content dynamic and current.  It's a work in progress so if there's something you'd like to see as part of the new service, let me know in the comments below.

That's all for now folks, I wouldn't want to swamp you with information! Stay tuned for more updates as we go.....


* Which of course it's not... it's a text matching tool.  I would suggest it's teachers who detect unfair means, but a text matching service can help. I wonder how others would define Turnitin?  Comments welcome!

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