TurnItIn assignments on Learn

If you used a TurnItIn assignment activity in one of your modules last year, you will find that there is a copy of it in your 2012 module on Learn.

The copy will not work.

It was set up with the 2011 class list and will generate an error if you try to re-use it with different dates, because the class list in 2012 is different.

The old activities have been left in place as markers. They should be deleted and replaced with a new version for your new class, with appropriate dates.

If you need to review TurnItIn assignments from last year’s students, you will be able to use the TurnItIn assignment in your 2011 module by logging into Learn11.

Initial Trials of Ephorus

This is a Dutch software app which claims to do much the same as TurnItIn (TII), only cheaper. A trial was set up whereby 20 files which had already been passed through TII were put through a demo version of Ephorus.

The results:
• The Ephorus demo account that was being used only checks against the internet. The full TII account used checks against the internet, publications and past submissions.
• In no case did the two systems come up with the same percentage matching text, or the same list of primary sources.
• In 7 out of 20 cases, the matching text scores would lead to the same conclusion by the tutor even though the numbers weren’t the same. In the other 13 cases, the scores were radically different, with Ephorus scores typically much lower than TII.
• In the one case where text from foreign-language websites had been used, Ephorus was demonstrably better than TII (Ephorus scored 62% for the 100% plagiarised text, compared to 31% for TII).
• Whilst Ephorus seems to be better with foreign-language texts, TII has better coverage of English-language publications. This supports Ephorus’ comment that their European-language database is currently much better than their English-language database.

The conclusion is that the use of Ephorus can be justified for checking foreign-language texts, and maybe as a second opinion on tricky TII cases. The reports generated by Ephorus are similar to those produced by TII, available online and as PDF documents.

• Ephorus accepts the same file formats as TII, and takes typically 5 minutes to process a document.
• The Ephorus display shows the matching text, but doesn’t show which bit goes with which source, making it difficult to check the context. It can show alternative sources for the same text, and allow you to skip a source (e.g. an earlier draft), but these facilities are hidden (so infrequent users would forget about them and require re-training).
• File storage is organised on a per-tutor basis, whereas per-class would be better. Not clear how well the user interface would cope with large volumes of coursework. However, these problems go away if the Moodle add-on is used. This adds controls to the standard single-file upload assignment activity so that all submissions are automatically checked and the score made available on the marking page. This is equivalent to the TII Assignment activity.
• If you use the web interface rather than the Moodle (Learn) interface, the Ephorus administrator has to create all tutor accounts, and all of the individual assignment accounts – precisely the scalabilty nightmare that we use the TurnItIn Assignment activity on Learn to avoid. The Learn integration would get around this.
• Ephorus’ adverts are rather naïve in claiming to prevent plagiarism – we are trying to wean people off the idea of ‘plagiarism checking’ and towards ‘text-matching’ because matched text may have been correctly cited, whether or not it is enclosed in quotes.

TurnItIn UK User Group

Manchester, 21/9/11

This was attended by 91 users, many from UK HE, but including schools, colleges and exam boards. A straw poll indicated a roughly 50:50 split between those institutions using Originality Checking as a formative tool for the iterative refinement of coursework (mainly new universities and colleges) and those using it as a summative deterrent/policing tool (older universities and exam boards).

In a review of 45 million submissions to TurnItIn’s Originality Checking software:

  • 54% of matches came from academic websites
  • 14% of matches came from social networking websites
  • 6% came from essay banks
  • 13% came from Wikipedia (largest single source)

Future developments to TurnItIn tools

Late 2011:

• Better tools for administrators including password recovery

• e-Rater added to GradeMark to provide spelling and grammar checking.

Spring 2012:

• Ability to grant extensions to students submitting to a TurnItIn Assignment

• Removal of maximum term lengths so archives can exceed 5 years old

• Expanded view of GradeMark rubric so the whole marking grid can be viewed.

• Adding audio and/or video files to feedback in GradeMark

Winter 2012:

• Ability to use iPads or Android tablets for grading

• Ability to translate documents to check for plagiarism from foreign sources.


• Offline marking

The developers for both the Moodle and BlackBoard integrations are based in Newcastle, not the USA, so we have rapid access to them.

Several users (inc. Lboro) requested a separate account for testing the Moodle 2 integration. This can be set up for us when needed.

Oxford Brookes produced a video aimed at students, so they could interpret their Originality Reports. It may be of interest to tutors – we do not normally allow students to see ORs. It’s on YouTube at: www.youtube.com/watch?v=1yYf8AihndI

A summary report from Royal Holloway looks at policies relating to students seeing Originality Reports. It is available at:www.rhul.ac.uk/registry/educational-development/e-learning/services/turnitin/Survey-Student-Access-to-Originality-Reports.pdf

"I can't see myself going back to paper marking"

Ben Halkon (Wolfson)In this post (reproduced from our Summer 2011 “E-learning Innovations” staff newsletter), Ben Halkon (Wolfson School) talks about his use of the GradeMark online marking tool in Turnitin.

I didn’t want the hassle of having to manage a pile of paper marking, and the integration with the Originality Reporting from TurnItIn was useful, so I opted for online marking using GradeMark.   The opportunity to give more feedback in the same time was a particular bonus.

I heard about GradeMark on the New Lecturer’s Course, and decided to use it for the second year of my Sports Technology modules.  These are evolving modules, and the content is updated every year, but I expect my core comments to remain valid for 5 years or so.  Some of them, like Citations and Apostrophes are timeless; other more specific ones will evolve over time.

What’s interesting is that with paper marking, the first time you write a comment you write all the details.  The second time it gets a bit shorter … and by the time you’re writing it on the sixth script it’s pretty terse.  But with GradeMark, it’s the opposite.  The second time I find myself writing a comment, I save it for re-use.  Then each time I drag-and-drop it onto a script after that, it gets refined and added to.  You still need to read all the scripts, of course, but online marking enables me to give much more detailed feedback in the same amount of time as before.  And that has to be a better use of my time.

I’m still waiting for the formal student feedback, but from what they have told me already, the response has been 100% positive.  Here’s just one example:

This is a just a quick email as a query from your FEA feedback. Firstly I would like to thank you for this feedback, it was brilliant to have such detailed, individual feedback on an assignment, this is something which we don’t often get, so I found it nice to be able to go back and look over the work. After all its only by seeing our wrong doings that we learn from these mistakes in the future.

They feel I have properly explained the grades they are awarded, and they like the fact that errors are highlighted in context, which makes it easier for them to avoid making the same mistake(s) next time.

I have recommended online marking to my colleagues on a teaching “Away Day” we had recently, and I expect to continue using it next year.  It would be possible to share banks of comments between tutors, but there’s a limit to how many comments you can readily access, so I think individual comment banks are best, and anyway they reflect the tutor’s and the coursework’s individuality.The only improvement I’d like to see is the ability to mark offline and re-sync. when I get back to the office.  That would add value to my commuting time every day.

 Watch a screen recording of GradeMark in use at: http://turnitin.com/static/videos/instructor_usinggm.html

Plagiarism goes Social

A recent study by TurnItIn looked at the sources of 110 million content matches over 40 million submissions, and found:

33% of matching text came from Social Networking sites, content sharing sites or question-and-answer sites

25% of matching text came from educational sites

15% of matching text came from cheat sites, and

7% of matching text came from Wikipedia, the largest single source.

Turnitin update

Bryan reports that yesterday (Tuesday 3rd May) saw very heavy usage of TurnItIn which led to volume-related problems, including students being unable to upload assignments to a TurnItIn Assignment activity.  The problem was acknowledged by TurnItIn UK, who say it has been resolved.  However it may be prudent for academic colleagues not to set submission deadlines at periods when peak demand can be expected e.g. the last day before Xmas, or the start of the Summer term.  We have asked TIIUK to identify when peaks occur and let us know which days to avoid.

TurnItIn UK User group

TurnItIn UK User Group, 3/2/11, Aston University

Bryan Dawson

 This is a six-monthly event for TurnItIn (TII) Administrators and power users.  The system continues to grow, with over ½ million submissions per month to the system in the last quarter of 2010.  The UK branch of iParadigms (the U.S. company that built TurnItIn) now has responsibility for all of the world except the Americas, and will probably change its name from ‘iParadigms Europe’.

 New developments for TurnItIn Originality Checking include:

Large documents don’t now cause the system to seize up.  This has never been a problem for us, even with dissertations.

We were promised better Quality Assurance for new releases – the revised user interface introduced in the autumn is only now fully functional.

A Moodle 2.0-compatible plugin is promised for the middle of 2011.

Work is under way on allowing multiple markers of an assignment.    This would allow for double-marking of coursework, which explains why double blind anonymous marking is not currently under development.  There were many requests for this feature.

It was confirmed that TII submissions will still be visible to submitting institutions even after 5 years (we started using TII in 2005).

 The GradeMark online marking system received much emphasis at the meeting.  It is only just starting to be used by Lboro tutors. 

  • It is now possible to import and export rubrics (marking criteria), so rubrics can be deployed over several assignments, and the same rubric can be used by several tutors.
  • An ‘e-rater’ will be added to provide spelling and grammar checking for online submissions.  However, TurnItIn is an American product, so it is not clear whether UK English spelling, punctuation, grammar and usage will be checked.
  • A translation facility can be introduced to check for the possibility that a foreign-language source has been translated into English and used in a submission.
  • Feedback files can be uploaded to GradeMark for retrieval by the student.  These could be audio or video files e.g. a lecture-captured demo of a worked answer.

 A Plagiarism Reference Tariff was introduced by Jo Badge from Leicester Uni.  This aims to provide consistency across Academic Misconduct cases by applying a formula to establish the ‘severity’ of the case.  Details are available from http://www.plagiarismadvice.org/

 An online marking Case Study was presented by Cath Ellis of Huddersfield University.  She noted that the OU uses GradeMark and in the NSS it gets 100% satisfaction scores for feedback and marking.

At Huddersfield there was a strong steer from HoDs to use online marking.  The option for paper marking has always been kept open, but its use is now in the minority.  Online marking is the default, and tutors have to opt IN to paper marking. 

After a quite short learning curve (hours, not days) TurnItIn and Grademark had been integrated into the work flow of processing submitted student coursework.  Because marking is a fairly frequent activity, the new skills were kept refreshed and didn’t need to be re-learnt every semester. Using the GradeMark online marking tool was found to be:

  • Quicker, with marking throughput anything up to twice as fast as paper methods;
  • Better, because by using stock comments for common errors, the tutor was concentrating on what was being said, not how it was being said;
  • Easier, because you didn’t have to keep track of lots of pieces of paper; and
  • Safer because the marked-up coursework was automatically archived on a server.

Students liked the fact that they could submit from home, and didn’t have to make the trip to the campus just to hand in a piece of paper.  They appreciated the private and unhurried view of the feedback that had been provided, and felt they got more detailed feedback than before.

Admin staff set up duplicate copies of coursework to allow double-marking, but Anonymous marking is not used.

Setting submission dates for TurnItIn assignments

The summary screen for a TurnItIn 2 assignment

On the Summary screen (the first of 4 tabs the tutor sees when they click the link to the assignment) there is a pencil icon.  Clicking this allows editing of the dates and times.  You then need to click the tick icon (which replaces the pencil) to confirm the changes.

The graphic above shows the screen (click the image to show it full size), which I notice has lost its labels:

The leftmost entry (11:49) is the start time and date.  No submissions may be made before this.

The middle entry (12:00) is the due date or deadline.  No submissions will be allowed after this.

The rightmost entry (09:05) is the marks posting date, after which marks will be made available to the students.

The text field containing “Part 1” is used to distinguish between seperate submissions if the assignment requires more than one file to be submitted.  You can normally safely ignore this.

A new way to access TurnItIn

After almost a year’s development, we now have an alternative way to submit coursework files to the TurnItIn UK plagiarism checking service.  Learn has a new TurnItIn Assignment activity in which:

  • Students  submit their coursework by uploading to a TurnItIn Assignment activity
  • Learn stores a local copy and also automatically sends a copy for checking to TurnItIn
  • The tutor can mark the submissions manually or use the online GradeMark tool at TurnItIn
  • The Originality Report scores and marks are returned to Learn
  • The Originality reports can be viewed from Learn, and
  • Tutors may opt to allow students to see the Originality Reports after the work has been marked

The underlying service is the same as before, but the new TurnItIn Assignment activity is an improvement because it:

  • Can be used by any tutor with a module on Learn (no registration necessary)
  • Means less administrative work for the tutor
  • Gives the student a digital receipt for their submission, and
  • Allows for anonymous online marking

A new flyer describing the service will be circulated to departments later this month, or can be downloaded from here.

Changes at TurnItIn UK

We are now into our sixth year of using the TurnItIn service, and there are several changes to the service for the new year.

From September 4th, registered users (who already have logins and passwords for the service) will see a new interface to the service when the visit the website.  The changes aim at integrating the three TurnItIn services:

  • Originality Check – the new name for the old plagiarism detection service.  Works the same as before, but shows a better representation of the submitted work (for example embedded images are now displayed)
  • GradeMark – the online marking tool which could be used as an alternative to Learn’s online (paperless) marking tools, and…
  • PeerMark – a peer assessment tool for students to mark each other’s work.

For more details of the changes, see the current Newsletter.

We are also hoping to get a revised version of the new Learn TurnItIn activity.  More details on this when it arrives!