Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Our new Turnitin support site

(C) University of Sheffield
After many months of consultation, collaboration and creation, our new Turnitin support site has been made live for staff and students in the University; just in time for the 2012-13 academic year.

Who was involved?

The site was created by the Learning Technologies Team (LTT), in the Corporate information and Computing Services department (CiCS). We also had some great input and collaboration from our departmental learning technologists, academics and central support services such as the Student Conduct and Appeals office, Library, CiCS Communication Team and Learning and Teaching Services.

Why the new site?

We have had licence to use Turnitin in the University of Sheffield since 2008, and around that time an initial support site was developed to help staff and students understand what Turnitin is and how it could be used. This site did serve staff and students well at the time, where Turnitin’s only use was for “Originality Check”, which is Turnitin’s powerful text matching function.

However, over the years Turnitin’s functionality has grown so much that it is now as much an e-assessment tool as a text matching tool. The guidance that was around circa 2008, did not provide support for Turnitin’s new functions: GradeMark and PeerMark. Gradually our staff and students became aware of these new functions and our support desk started to receive more calls asking for support and training on Turnitin and GradeMark/PeerMark.

How did the site come about?

The site came out of the “Central Turnitin service” project which focused on addressing the “why” points above. The project was kick started with an initial scoping exercise, which involved collaboration between key project stakeholders and an external comparison review of other Institutions' Turnitin support.

The external comparison review highlighted our need to create a central web resource. Many external Institutions had dedicated e-assessment and Turnitin pages on their sites. These sites provided comprehensive and detailed information on the use of Turnitin for learning and teaching, text matching and for e-assessment.

Following these activities, key aims of the project were drafted:
  1. To create a centrally managed website that utilises a range of media to provide accessible and visible Turnitin support to staff and students
  2. To present a Turnitin training package to users that is accessible and visible
  3. To provide support and guidance to staff and students on the use of e-assessment.
  4. To create a technical and administrative focused set of resources that provide support and guidance to staff and students in setting up and using Turnitin
Once the aims were in place a project plan was drafted that detailed all the project objectives. These objectives were organised under their parent key aims.

Finally we conducted a site mapping exercise. You can read all about that particular exercise involving mind mapping tools here. The purpose of the site mapping exercise was to get a draft of the entire structure of the site down; page by page. Having this structure in place prior to actually creating the site itself, would help make the process of designing and populating it much easier, as we knew how everything was going to fit together.

What's in it? - Navigation and content

One of the big ideas to come out of the site mapping exercise was to utilise the “how,” “what”,” when” and” why” method of splitting up content into different sections. These keywords were then transformed into the icons that are now the main part of the homepage navigation. Here is a brief explanation of each section:

What? - This area is dedicated to explaining what Turnitin is, including a breakdown of it’s 3 main areas of functionality (Originality Check, GradeMark and PeerMark) as well as an eye on how students and staff should access Turnitin.
Where? - (or where can I get training?) This area allows staff to book onto a range of Turnitin focused training courses bookable from our Learning Management System .
When? - This area summarises some of the most recent features that have been made available in Turnitin. (e.g. audio feedback).
How? - The largest section of the site. This area is firstly split into staff and student areas. For both staff and student sections we have used screencasts as the primary method of getting the “how to” information to both staff and students quickly and effectively. In addition there are also extensive FAQ’s available.
Why? - Arguably the most important section, these pages detail how Turnitin might be used effectively in  learning and teaching. There is information on e-assessment, using Turnitin formatively to improve writing skills, designing plagiarism out, peer review and some example case studies of Turnitin use in the University.
Who? - This final section acts as our University Turnitin contact page

This is a relatively new site but we hope that our staff and students will find this new site easy to use, accessible and informative. In order to gauge its effectiveness I will be conducting a formal evaluation of the site as part of the project early next year. Once the results are in, there may be another blog post on it, stay tuned!


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