Turnitin Grades – What Has Been Seen Cannot Be Unseen!

It’s that time again… marking.

Very few would actually admit to enjoying marking reams of students’ work right after the Christmas break but it is a necessary (evil) task.

And to make things worse, students seem to be finding their grades out early! How on Earth did that happen? You’ve done everything you thought you needed to, so how are they getting them!?

Yes, the process to hide grades and marks from students is a little convoluted. Ideally we’d have a single button that we could use to hide and then un-hide whenever we want (or even better, on a specific date!) but alas, no such magic exists… yet.  Whilst we await with fingers crossed for a better way, there are a couple of things you need to do now to get it right.

Here’s our top 5 tips for hiding grades:

  1. Remember the Post Date (This is the date on which TURNITIN gives access to any marks and comments you have left via the Turnitin Grade Mark feature).
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  2. Remember the option (within Optional Settings when setting up Turnitin) for ‘Reveal grades to students only on post date? > YES
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  3. Remember to hide the relevant column in the Grade Centre also (Turnitin is a separate programme to Blackboard, so don’t forget that not only do you have to hide in Turnitin, but also in Blackboard!)
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  4. Check that the grade isn’t being fed through to another column that ISN’T hidden! For example Total or Weighted Total column.
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  5. The final one that can be very annoying… if you forget to hide the grades until after you’ve entered marks, then even if you hide the columns retrospectively, if a student has already been in and seen their grade then it may have ‘cached’ on their web browser so regardless of what you do, they’ll still get to it!

If you have any questions at all about this information get in touch with your local friendly Learning Technologist for your department who will be more than happy to help our with any queries or niggles you may have with using Turnitin or Blackboard (or any other learning technology for that matter!)

Oh, still here? Excellent! How about a few more nuggets of information about online submissions?

  • Remember that Turnitin is an individual tool for checking originality in writing.  You don’t need to use it for Images, Videos, Audio, most presentations, or other work that is not predominantly text.  It’s also not designed to take group submissions, unless one person is submitting on everyone’s behalf and you know who that person is!
  • If you genuinely have a group submission, consider using the Blackboard Assignment tool which does allow submission by group (which you can also set up in Blackboard)
  • Also use Blackboard Assignment for ‘other’ file types.  Turnitin only like text files, so if you are submitting a file of a more unusual type, use Bb Assignment
  • Also with that in mind, Blackboard Assignment allows multiple file submissions – so may well be the best option if you are expecting more than one file from students.
  • Remember that Turnitin only accepts files up to 20mb in size!  Any bigger and it will be rejected!
  • Turnitin GradeMark is marking online – don’t forget that you can lose your comments if your connection is flaky (e.g. wireless) as the connection to the server will drop.  It’s probably best to make notes offline and then copy and paste them in to ensure there are no tears at the end of an epic marking sesh!
  • You can ‘navigate’ through students’ submission when marking using the arrows at the top of the page (this goes for Turnitin and Bb Assignment).
  • Don’t forget you can always download work if you find it easier for marking, or need to work offline.  Turnitin won’t allow you to upload a marked paper – so remember to make those comments so you can copy and paste, but Bb Assignment does, so you may wish to consider changing your assignment submission method.
  • It’s worth noting that we have a new feature in Blackboard Assignment called ‘Safe Assign‘.  This is an emerging originality checking tool that may in time replace Turnitin.  If you fancy giving it a go (possibly on a submission that’s not critical to having Turnitin features) then feel free to check it out in your Test Course or come and have a chat with LTD!

Carol_Chatten

 

 

Carol Chatten
Learning Technology Development Officer

Keep Calm and Submit this Christmas

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Christmas comes around quick doesn’t it!? One minute you’re moving in to halls for the term, the next you’re back off for a fortnight!

It’s hard work being a student but before you pack your Christmas hat, XBox and onesie don’t forget your end of term submissions!

We’ve drawn together some good practice to ensure that your submissions over the next week (or so) go as smoothly as you could possibly wish for. There are always chances of uncertainty, but with a little thought and preparation (like a good Christmas present) you’ll be riding as high as Father Christmas himself as opposed to slipping up on black ice.

1. On the first day of Christmas, my true love sent to me….

…advice on where to submit your work

Your first port of call for help with submission should always be your tutor.  They know where the submission dropbox is in Learning Edge and will be able to point you in the right direction.  Please ensure you follow any guidelines you have been provided with.

Keep your tutor informed of any problems you may have, especially in the days leading up to a deadline – it helps them to keep track of your progress and ensures they can help you quickly if need arises.  If you can’t get hold of your tutor, give your departmental administrators a visit.

 

2. On the second day of Christmas, my true love sent to me….

…two places to get help (Twitter and Ask Us!)

Have you ever encountered a Learning Edge or Turnitin issue during submission? If you think this could be system related, we do have preferred Twitter feeds for you to follow that will highlight any known issues:

@EdgeHillVLE provides scheduled Learning Edge maintenance alerts and up to date system notices around different technologies used within the VLE such as Turnitin.

@Turnitinstatus is the official feed for Turnitin system status, you may find that Learning Edge is fine but Turnitin is unavailable.  Checking this feed will help you diagnose an issue with Turnitin submissions.

Let’s say everything is OK technically and you have an issue around the online submission process and Learning Edge? A good starting point would be to head over to the Ask Us service and see if your question can be answered here. If you can’t find the answer you’re looking for, you can simply type your question and we will discuss it with you in real time using our live chat facility.

 

3. On the third day of Christmas, my true love sent to me….

…three web browsers

Why is it you get a technical problem right at a critical moment?  If you have given yourself time, you should be able to try another PC if you run into problems. We know that anything could happen at any moment; internet dropping out, PC crashing, wireless not connecting the list goes on, so give yourself a break and some time to try out another computer – in university, in work or even your mate’s PC. If it’s just not happening for you, see the first point (keeping in touch with your tutor).

One quick solution could be to try a different browser.  The common ones are Internet Explorer (10+), Firefox and Chrome (although you may wish to try Safari on a Mac).

Often, tutors will allow multiple submissions to an online drop-box, so you may be able to use this to your advantage. Check with your tutor and if this is the case, try submitting your work, even if not quite finished yet, to the drop-box a few days before the deadline just so you’re up to speed with the process before your final submission.
Waiting until 1 minute before the deadline isn’t the time to start figuring out how everything works!

 

4. On the fourth day of Christmas, my true love sent to me….

… (twenty) four hours

It may come to the time of doing your ‘final’ submission but if in Turnitin you have submitted an earlier version you will find that when you submit again everything looks the same…at least for 24 hours. You will have to wait until the next day to see your new originality report and the preview of your updated document – another good reason to be organised and get your work in handy! tiiRemember at the second stage of submitting to Turnitin you can check what you are about to submit just to be certain you’ve attached the right file.

 

5. On the fifth day of Christmas, my true love sent to me….

… FIVE VIDEOS!

 How do I submit  HOW DO I SUBMIT?
 How do I save my digital receipt  HOW DO I SAVE MY DIGITAL RECIEPT?
 Viewing your Turnitin Report (in Turnitin)  HOW DO I SAVE MY REPORT?
 How do I save my report  VIEWING YOUR REPORT
 Viewing your mark and feedback VIEWING YOUR MARK AND FEEDBACK (if your tutor marks online)

 

We know that when that deadline is approaching it’ll be stressful enough without unexpected niggles, so try not to leave your submission till the last minute. This echoes all points above but if done correctly will ensure the final moments before you click ‘Submit’ will be as stress-less as possible.

mini_fist_pump

Once all done, sit back, put your feet up with a nice cuppa and enjoy your Christmas holiday. Remember, if you have any problems Keep Calm and Ask Us!

 

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Mark Wilcock
Learning Technology Development Officer

 

 

Carol_Chatten

Carol Chatten
Learning Technology Development Officer

Screencasting Formative Feedback

How one tutor increased students’ engagement with feedback.

YouTubeButtonIn this video blog post Carl Simmons explains why assessment is so problematic and suggests how tutors can increase the amount of useful information that students receive using screen and voice recording software.

The issues are:

  1. Good quality feedback consumes significant tutor resource;
  2. Students tend not to use the qualitative feedback comments.

Carl replaced traditional feedback (handwritten comments / annotated Word documents) with videos of each students’ script, adding an audio recording of himself talking about the work – a ‘screencast’.

Results indicate that students both use this feedback more than traditional text comments – and feel that the assessor has their best interests at heart, providing a motivational boost.

SpeechBubbleThe students engaged far more readily with the screencast feedback – often viewing it more than three times.  There was also a perception that the feedback took significantly longer to produce – yet Carl found creating the screencasts took him about the same length of time as previous methods.

Carl’s approach is significant because many studies indicate increasing student engagement with qualitative feedback improves students’ outcomes.

Carl has created a screencast that outlines the technique and discusses how he analysed the data.  Potential issues are also identified, such as raising students’ expectations.  Here’s the link: http://youtu.be/P5R69BvjJDI

Your next steps?

Create a screen cast of your own – perhaps marking an exemplar piece – unpacking the reasoning behind the piece’s grade.

Carl would be delighted to speak to colleagues, both at Edge Hill and beyond to give help and advice to those considering using this screen casting technique.  Further, perhaps you might be able to add to the research data – seeing if the results you get are similar to those already observed.

BestofTEL_SMALLCarl Simmons
Senior Lecturer
Faculty of Education

Telephone:  01695 650916 x7916
Email: simmonc@edgehill.ac.uk

 

For further help, support and advice on how you can use screen casting or any other TEL tools, please contact your Learning Technologist (see the Faculty Contacts on this page) or email the LTD Team on LTDSupport@edgehill.ac.uk or 01695 650754 (x7754).  Or – you just ‘do it’ with my favourite FREE service: http://www.screenr.com/.

Keep Calm and Submit this Christmas

Keep Calm and Submit

The smell of spices, alcohol and pine, warm log fires, spending time with family and friends, crackers, pudding and brandy cream… Yes! It must be that time of year… end of semester one before Christmas and time for submissions!

We’ve drawn together some good practice to ensure that your submissions over the next week go as smoothly as you could possibly wish for. There are always chances of uncertainty, but with a little thought and preparation (like a good Christmas present) you’ll be riding as high as Father Christmas himself as opposed to slipping up on black ice.

1. Read the guidelines first and keep in touch!

Before you begin, If you have any doubts about your expected submission through Learning Edge, please ensure you follow the guidelines you have been provided with.  These will either be located within your module handbook or detailed within your module area within Learning Edge. It may have been that your tutor covered this in a session, so make sure you’re up to speed with any information you may have missed. If for any reason you can’t locate your submission drop-box or if you don’t understand what you need to do them simply contact your tutor for further support.  Keep your tutor informed of any problems you may have, especially in the days leading up to a deadline – it helps them to keep track of your progress and ensures they can help you quickly if need arises.

2. Follow us or even Ask Us!

Have you ever encountered a Learning Edge or Turnitin issue during submission? If you think this could be system related, we do have preferred Twitter feeds for you to follow that will highlight any known issues:

@EdgeHillVLE provides scheduled Learning Edge maintenance alerts and up to date system notices around different technologies used within the VLE such as Turnitin.

@Turnitinstatus is the official feed for Turnitin system status, you may find that Learning Edge is fine but Turnitin is unavailable.  Checking this feed will help you diagnose an issue around Turnitin submissions.

Let’s say everything is OK technically and you have an issue around the online submission process and Learning Edge? A good starting point would be to head over to the Ask Us service and see if your question can be answered here. If you can’t find the answer you’re looking for, you can simply type your question and we will discuss it with you in real time using our live chat facility.

3. Running in to technical problems?

Why is it you get a technical problem right at a critical moment?  If you have given yourself time, you should be able to try another PC if you run into problems. We know that anything could happen at any moment; internet dropping out, PC crashing, wireless not connecting the list goes on, so give yourself a break and some time to try out another computer – in university, in work or even your mate’s PC. If it’s just not happening for you, see the first point (keeping in touch with your tutor).

It is often the case that tutors will allow multiple submissions to an online drop-box, so you may be able to use this to your advantage. Check with your tutor and if this is the case, try submitting your work, even if not quite finished yet, to the drop-box a few days before the deadline just so you’re up to speed with the process before your final submission. Waiting until 1 minute before the deadline isn’t the time to start figuring out how everything works!

4. The final countdown…

It may come to the time of doing your ‘final’ submission but if in Turnitin you have submitted an earlier version you will find that when you submit everything looks the same…at least for 24 hours. You will have to wait until the next day to see your new originality report and the preview of your updated document – another good reason to be organised and get your work in handy! Remember at the second stage of submitting to Turnitin you can check what you are about to submit just to be certain you’ve attached the right file.

5. Space to breathe

We know that when that deadline is approaching it’ll be stressful enough without unexpected niggles, so try not to leave your submission till the last minute. This echoes all points above but if done correctly will ensure the final moments before you click ‘Submit’ will be as stress-less as possible.

Once all done, sit back, put your feet up with a nice cuppa and enjoy your Christmas holiday!  And remember, if you have any problems Keep Calm and Ask Us!

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Mark Wilcock
Learning Technology Development Officer

 

 

Carol_Chatten

Carol Chatten
Learning Technology Development Officer

 

 

A Tidal Wave of Discussion …

How active discussion produced outstanding* results.

By David Callaghan

Online discussion forums are widely-used in online and blended courses at Edge Hill and increasingly course teams have been exploiting the benefits of these asynchronous online communication tools to support their face-to-face students’ learning. When used effectively, discussion forums have been found to support reflection, deep thinking, peer and collaborative learning (and more), but the challenges of stimulating the ‘right kind’ of participation (in any course type) presents an interesting topic for new and experienced academics to consider.

I’ve discussed, interviewed and blogged about online discussion before – but always as an ‘interested’ observer of practice – rather than a ‘committed’ stakeholder. This reminds me of Storming Norman Schwarzkopf’s definition of commitment (he got international leaders to ‘commit’ 750,000 infantry to Operation Desert Storm) – his definition:

“If you want to know the difference between being involved and being committed think of a ham and egg breakfast.  The chicken is involved but the pig’s committed.”

Schwarzkopf in Bannister (2013:3m15s)

Having recently led a dissertation module for a large cohort of 60 online students, I’d like to share my personal experience of being a ‘committed’ discussion board leader.

It didn’t start well.  I had struggled to get any useful discussion in similar ‘dissertation’ modules – perhaps because the students were focussed on their own research and didn’t envisage much use knowing what others’ were doing. Further, at the first conference day (in January) when the students were physically present, my question about what type of technology would help their learning elicited little interest.

A good start

YouTubeWelcomeAgainst this backdrop, my eternal enthusiasm and experience as a Learning Technologist, which told me the right use of this technology could make a difference, prompted my ‘commitment’ to kick in. In a few hours I had:

  • Created a couple of discussion boards (or as Blackboard calls them, Forums);
  • Encouraged students to contribute via the Forum descriptions;
  • Very quickly ‘thrown together’ a two minute video to welcome students to the module –  and within the first 20 seconds has asked them to subscribe to the General and Introduction Chapter discussions;
  • Sent out an announcement (ticking ‘Send a copy of this announcement immediately’) to all students with a link to the welcome video.

The first post arrived about an hour after my announcement went out – with a student offering a YouTube video on ‘Praise’ that they mentioned at the induction a few days earlier.  A trickle soon turned into a torrent, and within a few days the General and Introduction forums became very active with around half the students making postings to the forums.  During the first three months there were over 1,000 postings to the discussion boards – creating what I regard as a very effective support mechanism for distance students.  At the end of the course over two thirds of the cohort were active participants in the discussions and the cohort had made a total of 2,573 posts.

Sustainability

From observing excellent practice in the Faculty of Education by Deborah Humphreys (see earlier post: ‘The secrets of Online Discussion’) and Wendy Dixon (UG Professional Development) what comes across clearly is the need to have a presence (Garrison, et al., 2000) – checking the forums frequently and replying promptly to posts (Hodges & Cowan, 2012) – perhaps with further questions or thoughts to encourage further discussion.  As I had subscribed to the two forums I was notified the instant someone posted – so frequent checking wasn’t necessary – and I was able to respond very quickly to postings, especially if some redirection was required.

My driver for responding quickly was informed by Gilly Salmon’s (2004) model suggesting that tutors should be very involved in the early stages of an online discussion and that as time goes on the tutor can move from being a leader to become more of a facilitator and ‘encourager’ chiming with Sugata Mitra’s ‘Granny Cloud’.  My aim was to step back and allow the community to respond to posts.  Others’ have developed this with the analogy of a ‘ghost in the wings’ (Mazzolini and Maddison, 2007); there is evidence that this happened in this course – moving from superficial notes about spelling mistakes etc. through to, towards the end of the course, some very insightful and effective comments on peers draft chapters.

Regarding the ‘Community’, during my telephone tutorials I sometimes asked how the group knew each other before the course and was rather surprised to hear that most of them had never met until the conference day – challenging my notion that creating an ‘online’ community was more challenging than in a classroom.  This echoes Pelz’s notion that ‘… online students bond earlier and ‘better’ than students sitting in the same classroom’ (2004:41).

Reflecting on how I engaged with the discussion, here are some of the things I did, indeed continue to do, that help create such a lively and useful discussion:

  • Use my postings to model what I want the students to do;
  • Post links to resources or uploaded materials – from Edge Hill and beyond;
  • Acknowledge valuable contributions from students publically on the discussion board – especially those that offered critique of their peers’ drafts (note many of my postings began ‘With thanks to Alice, Bernard and Cath for their insightful contributions’ …);
  • Sending private thanks to people who consistently made useful contributions;
  • Prioritising my time in order to respond to drafts that students had posted on the discussion board – thus encouraging more postings to a public arena and posting back comments on drafts so that instead of feedback being to a cohort of one it was to the cohort of all;
  • When to jump in? At the beginning I found balancing waiting for students to respond versus replying myself to unanswered postings a difficult balance . Towards the end of the course I tried to leave for two days before I responded;
  • Using the notification tool to thank all those that had been engaging;
  • Using the same tool to invite contribution from those who weren’t engaging;
  • Using the same tool to find those who were not engaging at all, and send an email to their personal email address;
  • Ditto, but phone them;
  • Ditto, but using their mobile phones;
  • If questionable practice arises, drown it out with a quick ‘here’s a much better alternative’ (redirection – I’m sure there’s some psychology link here);
  • When I have a tutorial with students, I ask them to summarise what they think would be useful for others’ to hear and post this on the relevant discussion.

Challenges

The most challenging aspect was keeping on top of all the discussion as there were so many students – as well as the pressure to produce polished responses that were instantly displayed to the whole cohort (Bair & Bair, 2011).  Also, constructing replies to questionable practice that re-directed the group without disenfranchising the poster was challenging.

Results, feedback and costs

The results were outstanding, with 57% of the cohort achieving a First Class mark for their TidalWave GradeBookdissertation.  I had grave concerns about collusion when I began marking as the first dozen or so scripts were outstanding, however, apart from some similarities referencing the Data Protection Act, each piece was highly original and very polished. This increased my concern about the cost to the students and their families of the many hours that each of them had put into this final piece; was I complicit in adding to their study burden by creating a demanding on line environment?

So, at graduation, I was rather concerned to meet those who I may have driven apart – but my concerns vanished as fathers, husbands and daughters came up to me and thanked me (rather enthusiastically) for the support, help and encouragement that I had given their loved ones.  I should point out, though, that most of what I was being thanked for was given by their fellow students – I had become a broker of peers rather than a purveyor of learning.

Research into wider aspects

I will be asking the students if I can explore their posts, our journey, to look at aspects such as how I may have facilitated my social presence in online forums (Savvidou, 2013), Sociability (Smith & Sivo, 2013) and the learners ‘Sense of Presence’ (Sung & Mayer, 2013).

I’m also interested in the emotional aspects of the discussion.  Cleveland-Innes and Campbell (2013) suggest that ‘…emotion must be considered, if not a central factor, at least as a ubiquitous, influential part of learning—online and otherwise’.  Another ethereal aspect was recently highlighted by a colleague who suggests that underpinning my pedagogy was/is my belief that the technology and how I was implementing it would benefit the student experience and improve outcomes and results – emphasising to me that my faith that it would work made it work – justifying my sometimes ‘evangelistic’ encouragement for others to do the same.  To me, this sounds rather like the ‘heart and soul’ of online learning.

Conclusion

At the outset I didn’t have an explicit rationale for using discussion boards – but as the course progressed the rational emerged:

  • Engage students with the course and the tutor;
  • Engage students with each other;
  • Benefit from an ‘active’ learning approach;
  • Build on relationships made during the conference day;
  • Reduce isolation for distance learners;
  • Share resources and materials found;
  • Capture conversations that others can share (note the search tool!);
  • Questions that may have been answered to just one person went to the entire cohort;
  • Look at drafts of others’ work – perhaps to inform their own writing;
  • Become more aware of other perspectives;
  • Have an audience in mind when creating their own drafts;
  • Comment on other students drafts;
  • Have a safe community to ask and answer questions within.

I was especially pleased to see in later weeks the confidence and trust in the community grow, as evidenced by students becoming ‘critical friends’ – making critical judgements of peers’ work – having a sense of empowerment.

If any of the above isn’t clear then ask me – my contact details are below.  Also, here is a technical guide to using the Blackboard ‘Discussion Boards / Forums’ from colleagues in Learning Technology Development.  Finally, both the Faculty of Education and Learning Technology Development are very keen to promote staff development in this area – so if your team might benefit from some bespoke training, please get in touch – contact details below.

I suggest that the support and guidance the students shared with each other via the discussion board and the collegiality created via their online discussion and Collaborate sessions was a significant factor in the cohort’s exemplary success *.  I encourage colleagues to try some of the ideas I’ve presented above in their courses – and will be pleased to discuss this further.   Please take a look at a presentation based on my and the students’ experiences – http://www.eshare.edgehill.ac.uk/id/document/9398

* 57% received a First Class grade in the dissertation module (n=47). 

BestofTEL_SMALLDavid Callaghan
Associate Tutor, Professional Development
Faculty of Education 

AND
Learning Technology Development Officer
Learning Services
David.Callaghan@edgehill.ac.uk

 

For further help, support and advice on how you can use Discussion, Tracking, Web Conferencing (Collaborate) and other tools within the Learning Edge Suite contact your Learning Technologist (see the Faculty Contacts on this page) or email the LTD Team on LTDSupport@edgehill.ac.uk or x7754.  Also, see the LTD Guide about Blackboard Discussion Boards.

David Callaghan, 1st November 2013

References
An American General, a legendary radio producer, a former Times editor, a British composer, a cricket commentator. M. Bannister. [Web] [Sun 6 Jan 2013]. London: BBC.
Bair, D. E., and Bair, M. A. (2011). Paradoxes of online teaching. International Journal for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, 5(2), 1–15
Garrison, D. R., Anderson, T., & Archer, W. (2000). Critical inquiry in a text-based environment: Computer conferencing in higher education. The Internet and Higher Education, 2, pp87–105.
Hodges, C. B. and Cowan, S. F. Preservice Teachers’ Views of Instructor Presence in Online Courses. (2012) Journal of Digital Learning in Teacher Education 28(4) pp139-145.
Mazzolini, M. and Maddison, S. (2007) When to jump in: The role of the instructor in online discussion forums. Computers & Education, 49 (2) 193-213.
Pelz, B. (2004) Three principles of effective online pedagogy. Journal of the Asynchronous Learning Network, 8(3), pp33–46.
Salmon, G. (2004) E-moderating: The key to teaching and learning online. London: Routledge.
Savvidou, C. “‘Thanks for sharing your story’: the role of the teacher in facilitating social presence in online discussion.” Technology, Pedagogy and Education ahead-of-print (2013): 1-19.
Smith, J.A. and Sivo, S.A. (2012) “Predicting continued use of online teacher professional development and the influence of social presence and sociability.” British Journal of Educational Technology 43(6) pp871-882.
Wakefield, J. (2012) Granny army helps India’s school children via the cloud. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-17114718 [accessed 11/04/2013].
 

Geography are hands-on with Assignment Handler

Geography class students inspect fragments of rock.Edge Hill’s approach to eAssignment is to offer a number of flexible tools and not tie departments down to any one method.  After considering the choices available to them, each Faculty has gone with their preferred method of assignment submission.

Learning Edge currently has 3 tools: Blackboard Assignment, Assignment Handler and Turnitin.

Nigel Richardson Head of Geography Department

Nigel Richardson (Head of Geography) explains the direction Geography has taken and why Assignment Handler was the right choice for their students and staff.

 

 

“Introducing electronic submission to the programme was prompted by an institutional strategy aimed at enhancing the student experience and accommodating their changing expectations.  Our students were increasingly submitting assignments to us via email, rather than traveling to University to submit their work and the student feedback was also indicating some difficulties in reading staff feedback (handwriting) on assignments. Taking all of this into account, it seemed the right time to move to online submission.

We listened to the advice of the Learning Technology Officers on the various options available, before deciding on Assignment Handler.  Initially staff had mixed feelings – some were extremely positive and others were apprehensive.  The technology and the processes were new, and primary concerns centered on the impact that Assignment Handler would have on them, such as how long it would take to learn how to mark assignments and become proficient in doing so.”

Staff have since had training with Assignment Handler – All aspects including uploading assignments; downloading submissions; uploading feedback; general file handing e.g. use of zip files etc.

Students training included; how to access assignment details, submit an assignment; where to find feedback and marks.

It has been more than 12 months since Geography began on their eAssignment journey, so we asked Nigel to give us an update on the latest impression of both staff and students and how things have gone since implementation;

Generally staff are positive having gained experience of using Assignment Handler and some of the advantages of providing feedback electronically. Staff have a few concerns/queries but those are largely operational things rather than an issue with online submission and feedback. This is part of the natural course of improving what we do.  The department will aim to review our processes before the start of the next academic year.

For the Student, as noted above, there are advantages with flexibility of submission and also being able to read staff feedback. Also students can receive feedback and marks at any time of the day rather than waiting until the next module session for assignments to be handed out.

Geography have embraced Assignment Handler as their preferred method of assignment submission for their students and will continue to push the boundaries in terms of the way forward ensuring their students have the best possible experience.

Nigel added some advice for other colleagues deciding on the right assignment tool;

  • Ensure that it is user friendly both for students and staff.
  • Ensure that it can handle the types of coursework assignment you use, and submissions that you expect from students.
  • Think about how you are going to handle large numbers of files e.g. sending samples to external examiners; management and archiving of the files.

If you have any queries regarding eAssessment please don’t hesitate to contact the Learning Technology Development team on 01695 650754 or via ltdsupport@edgehill.ac.uk

Martin Baxter

Martin Baxter
Learning Technology Development

Shifting portfolios online

How a ‘spark’ during a staff development session led to a fully ‘on-line’ portfolio for all PCET trainees.

Lindsey Marsh (Senior Lecturer, Faculty of Education) attended an early Campus Pack training session.  During that session she realised that the wiki technology  offered the potential to significantly improve trainees’ portfolios.  This post is based on an interview with Lindsey on 8th Feb 2013 telling her story about how she implemented the electronic portfolio for the Post Compulsory Education and Training (PCET) course.

temp3Q: Can you tell me the history behind the PCET electronic portfolio?

“I attended a staff development session that introduced Campus Pack (one of yours!).  We were looking at how the administration team might be able to use the system to share course documentation with external staff, mentors, course representatives etc. and I had a ‘light bulb’ moment – realising that this system (Campus Pack) could be used for the trainees’ portfolios.  This led to a complete redesign of the two modules, and moving the initial audit from the first module (PTTLs) and integrating it into their professional practice modules.

Q: What did you envisage?

“I envisaged a completely electronic portfolio that integrates all the personal and professional development of the trainee from pre-course (pre course workshops and skills audit) for both teaching portfolios – ‘digitally’ – all in one place – saving room and allowing both trainees and staff to find things quickly.  Trainees now have links to video, audio, images, job applications, interview records and coursework in their electronic portfolios.

“Also note that the PCET tutors and mentors need to assess these portfolios regularly, so having these available on-line is a real benefit to everyone.”

Q: What was the ‘driver’ – what were you trying to fix / achieve?

“Trainees were producing two lever arch files of evidence for each of the modules.  This of course meant that they had to lug them around along with their teaching resources.  In terms of checking and marking, the tutors (including me) would have car boots full of lever arch files that took hours to go through, and mark, and sign, and comment on etc..  Having the portfolios available electronically means that the tutors didn’t need to carry anything around.  I also realised that other people would be able to access the portfolios – asynchronously – which means that we’d be able to track engagement, how often the trainees are updating their action and development plans etc.  We could also track how they are engaging with the other developmental work.

“I think the pivotal thing for me was the ability to ‘nip in and nip out’ – thus I now review trainees portfolios much more frequently than I used to with the paper based system – and this has also encouraged trainees to keep their portfolios more up to date – to be more of a ‘working document’.

“Personal tutors and Setting Subject Mentors (SSMs) can ‘nip in and nip out’ and mark with authenticated comments such as ‘yes, this is valid evidence, we did have those developmental meetings, this is the number of hours etc.  Also, because the wiki tool in Campus Pack tracks who’s done what and when we can now say with even greater certainty that a verification comment from a PT/SSM really is from the PT/SSM.”

Q: What do the rest of the PCET team think about the new system?

“Most of the team really like it – they like that they can check their trainees progress and engagement at a time that is convenient to them rather than bringing a trainee on to campus on a day that they wouldn’t normally attend.  A very small number of Personal Tutors have not been as confident as the technology required, and in those cases we have been very supportive, as we have been with SSMs in a similar position, and those tutors have come on board.  The number of PTs that are struggling with the technology is reducing very quickly.

“Note that we’ve decided as a team that any trainee that started from Sep ’12 MUST have an electronic portfolio – but they can always maintain a paper based portfolio for their own purposes.”

Q: What problems have you experienced implementing the new system?

“Trainees not following instructions accurately:  Very early on we noticed that some trainees managed to enter information into the master template – thus we had to change some permissions.  Also some other trainees didn’t give all the ‘Permissions’ (ability to edit a wiki) as they were instructed – again, something very quickly fixed.  In fact, I’ve got lots of support documentation with detailed explanations that I send out to trainees as these issues arise.”

Q: How significant were these issues to the trainee experience?

“I usually manage to respond to trainees very quickly – often resolving any problems within 12 hours of them being reported.”

Q: What do the trainees think about the new system:

“Generally trainees like:

    • not having to lug heavy files around;
    • getting feedback at ‘random’ or quick intervals;
    • tutors tagging pages with ‘complete’ or ‘needs attention’.

“To illustrate one issue, I went to see a couple of trainees that were having difficulties with the online portfolio last week.  The problem was they couldn’t picture / visualise the portfolio.  So I gave them a paper based index – and now they are saying ‘I love the e-portfolio now’.”

Q: What support have you put in place for the students?

“I’ve created a range of ‘How To’ resources with annotated screen shots and accessible language that are aimed at trainees, PTs and SSMs.”

Q: What advice would you give others thinking of creating an e-Portfolio system?

  • Plan: plan, plan and plan again!
  • Get feedback from colleagues who are going to be involved – DETAILED feedback – don’t rely on a quick look from someone;
  • Discourage the uploading of scanned documents – trainees can quickly reach their storage quota with these huge documents – if you need to scan a signed document then perhaps just scan the signature page and add that to the end of the rest of an electronic document;
  • The devil is in the detail – the TINY details that should be been picked up if there is a robust examination prior to publishing, perhaps by ‘walking through’ the whole life cycle as both a member of staff and a student*.”

BestofTEL_SMALL

Lindsey Marsh
Senior Lecturer PCET
Faculty of Education
PCET

 

 

What impressed me most about Lindsey’s story is that the students who haven’t experienced the paper portfolio are NOT ‘gushing’ about how easy it is to access, distribute, or copy – they have nothing to compare the e-portfolio with.  The result is that this innovative technology has been ‘backgrounded’ – thus the trainees are fully focused on the content – just as it should be!

For further help, support and advice on how you can use Campus Pack and other Web 2.0 style tools with your students contact your Learning Technologist (see the Faculty Contacts on this page) or email the LTD Team on LTDSupport@edgehill.ac.uk.  Further – click here for LTD’s video introduction to  Campus Pack.

David Callaghan, 26th February 2013

* LTD’s guide to using your Test Student account in Blackboard

eAssignments: Which is the right tool for me?

eAssessment is gaining more and more popularity in the HE sector.  Students are demanding the convenience that electronic submission gives them and so with a number of tools on offer within Learning Edge you have the opportunity to give your students what they are looking for.

Learning Edge currently has 3 tools to allow your students to submit electronically; Blackboard Assignment, Assignment Handler and Turnitin.  Don’t forget the potential of blogs and journals that can enable your students to submit work whilst also working in groups collaboratively which can also be assessed.


Turnitin

You may have heard of Turnitin, but what are the reasons for using it?

Turnitin is a very powerful plagiarism detection tool – but in the wrong hands can create real confusion!

Turnitin allows you to help your students formatively construct a well referenced piece of academic writing by helping them to see where they may not have referenced or acknowledged someone else’s work in the correct way.

There is no ‘good’ or ‘bad’ percentage in Turnitin, because it depends on what you, the tutor, are looking for and what the nature of the assignment is that you have set.

Give your students the chance to check their work – try not to jump to any conclusions about their report if it looks bad from the percentage figure.  Have a closer look at the submission and then decide what is going on.  It may be that your student just needs a little extra advice or guidance on writing a referenced piece of work.

Before deciding to use Turnitin, think about what the contents of the assignment will be.  There is no need to set a Turnitin assignment for a poster presentation as there is no bibliography for instance and besides, Turnitin does not accept PowerPoint format!  Neither does it accept Excel spreadsheets, databases, multimedia, images or other more unusual file formats.  Basically, it accepts text, and the best kind of text it accepts is in essay form!

It is also worth noting that Turnitin only accepts one file for each submission drop box.  So if you want 2 pieces submitted for the same assignment, you will either have to set up 2 drop boxes or ask the students to combine them into one document.

When it comes to marking, Turnitin does make it very easy to add floating comments onto the script, so students can see exactly where you made the comments and can then read a larger summary – but be aware, Turnitin ‘general comments’ area is limited to 5000 characters… now this may sound a lot but by the time you have taken into account spaces and full stops, 5000 characters quickly disappears!

TIP!  If you are receiving an error message when trying to save the comments it may be you have entered too many characters!

Turnitin marking requires you to have an active internet connection as you are actually only marking ‘online’, so please take this into account when you are planning to start marking.

 


Blackboard Assignment Tool and Assignment Handler

On the other hand you have Blackboard Assignments (during the course of this year we will be introducing Assignment Handler – it’s the Blackboard Assignment tool, but with some enhanced features that you may find useful!)

The Blackboard Assignment tool accepts multiple files at a time and also can take any format of file – so if you need your students to submit a spreadsheet they can!

Marking using the Blackboard Assignment tool involves an extra step (to download the assignments), but this may be your preferred method of marking (e.g. Word and comments).

The Assignment Handler tool also allows you to bulk download the submissions so that you can mark them offline at a time that suits you – not only when you have an active internet connection!

All tools integrate into the Blackboard ‘Grade Centre’.  Please note that ‘Grade Centre’ is the overarching tool in Blackboard that ‘picks up’ grades that you have entered from the various tools (including Assignments, Turnitin, Blogs & Journals, etc.) and pulls them into one uniform area where they can be managed (or downloaded) whereas ‘GradeMark’ refers to the marking tool within Turnitin.

You should ensure that you have a method for giving feedback to students when using eAssessment.  You do not necessarily have to mark on screen, or even read the scripts on screen but there are different ways to manage your marking work load.  Some still prefer to print and read the submission in paper form.  Some prefer to download them all so they can then read at their leisure.  Your department may choose to fill in paper feedback forms to hand back to your students, or you may have an electronic feedback form that your faculty or department has supplied.  Or, as mentioned before you may simply wish to put comments onto a submission using Word or by using Turnitin’s GradeMark feature.

Discuss with your department about how to give feedback to your students.


On a final note, it is worth mentioning that using the Blackboard Assignment tool can add to the robustness of your course.  Blackboard have a service level agreement (SLA) with the University to deliver 99.9% ‘up time’, and also 24-7 support.  If the system goes down for any reason, Blackboard is alerted and the problem is dealt with quickly.

Turnitin is a third party piece of software and as such has a different agreement for guaranteed ‘up-time’ and policy of reliability.

Carol Chatten
Learning Technology Development Officer

 

 

 

Mark Wilcock
Learning Technology Development Officer