Turnitin held their annual user group forum this month in Birmingham at Aston University. In attendance from the Learning Technologies Team was Zafer Ali along with Peter Bragg from the Department of Geography.
The morning kicked off with the CEO of Turnitin Chris Caren doing an introduction. He was mainly at the event to apologies to the UK customers for an outage that the service had during the December busy period and what steps the company had taken to make sure it was not repeated. Chris also talked about the company's communication strategy for when the service was unavailable, he acknowledged that this was handled poorly. A new procedure has now been put in place where they will do comms every 30mins if the service is down via Email (subscription), Twitter and the Turnitin website.
The issue Turnitin had in December was down to their database going offline, and the main problem all customers had was that their students could not submit anything as the database was unavailable, which lead to a lot of issues for institutions as extensions had to be given and the marking period also had to be revised. Turnitin have now amended their submission process so that in the future if the database does go offline students will still be able to submit work, the system will add students work to a backlog queue even if the service is down and process the documents later when it is back up.
Chris did take up all of the morning explaining why the system went down and what they had done about it. Although we were affected by the outage and had to extend some deadlines it was refreshing going to a talk where the company was honest and acknowledged that mistakes were made which they do not expect from their service.
After lunch Will Murray (Senior VP for Turnitin UK) went through the product roadmap for the next 7 to 15 months, the stand out features that will be really useful for our institution have been listed below. What really stood out during Will’s talk was the vision for the product in the future and what Turnitin would like the system to be able to do, they had six options which summed it all up Anything, Anywhere, Efficiently Automatically, with Engagement, with Evidence. Although no time frame was given for when they would like this implemented it is definitely on the company's plan to get the product delivering on more levels than currently to compete with other tools available to tutors within their institutions (such as Blackboard)
Features coming soon…
- Second markers, moderation, Double blind marking
- Email of non submissions
- Granting individual extensions
- New DV (Document View) layout
- Multiple audio feedback on DV and the ability to download audio feedback by tutors and staff.