Thursday, 1 August 2013

Birkbeck Special Blend Project Presented at HEA/SEEC Conference 2013


The HEA and SEEC held a combined conference on Flexible Learning at the University of Westminster in July. Along with Liz Drew who was part of the project team with me, I presented an overview of Special Blend, our Changing the Learning Landscape -assisted project which aimed to come up with a Birkbeck-flavoured approach to blended learning. The project morphed into a second phase which involved developing and then delivering a pilot module, Step Up to Postgraduate Study in Arts. The presentation slides are below.


Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Thursday, 21 February 2013

Turnitin User Group meeting: Senate House, London, 15 February 2013

A meeting of the Turnitin UK User Group was held in London last week and the following represents my capture of points of interest from that meeting rather than a full record of all that was presented, but I hope this is of some use to the community.



1. Service Updates
Communication
Status updates: various options to be updated on this including email, Twitter, RSS. You can also enable mobile notification from the Twitter feed. They send updates on the US and UK services via the same Twitter account (TurnitinStatus) which many felt was unhelpful so perhaps this will be changed.
Product updates: there is now a Twitter feed for this as well (TurnitinProduct).
Support Portal
They have never had one but will now be implementing this – it will enable us to see all open cases and any progress they are making. This would enable us to have a Bloomsbury-wide overview of the service status as well as better visibility at the more granular level of individual support tickets.
Currently their plan is that there will be an additional charge as this has never been included in our licence cost. At the moment they are seeing this as something some clients will opt in to and pay for but I wonder if it wouldn’t be better to provide this for all customers as the cost would then be spread widely. Possibly HELF (the Heads of e-Learning Forum) could make this suggestion on behalf of UK HE if there is general agreement across the sector.
There is an opportunity to join the pilot of the system which seems like a good idea for Bloomsbury.
Plagiarism Website
Relaunched and improved with a lot of resources worth checking out – the conference proceedings from the last 10 years are now up. 

2. Product Roadmap - General
Grademark
We were reminded to promote the online tutorial for Grademark. There are free/public rubrics available now (from the US) which we can download and adapt.
iPad App
This is due in beta in late February, with full launch in May – this allows you to sync the papers and mark offline, which is a very useful feature that is possible to implement for iPad but unfortunately not for Android (or for use on Windows / Mac laptops  either) at this time. Android may become a possibility (or at least certain devices). 
One point that concerned me was that it may not be totally straightforward for staff who use Turnitin integrated with Moodle (as ours exclusively do) unfortunately as they will need to find a one time access code in the Document Viewer to get them in to the relevant class via the iPad app.
Admin account interface (via the submit.ac.uk website)
There will be improvements to the interface and tools available to us.
Document viewer
This is the main interface Turnitin users ever see, which contains the Originality Report and Grademark views of the submissions. Version 2 is now in progress for release by the end of this year and should solve some of the persistent issues (but will be even less compatible with older browsers than the current one).

3. Product Roadmap - Integrations
Legacy API
(i.e. the current API all integrations are connecting to.) There are a lot of issues with the legacy API and a new one is under construction. This will resolve the prevalent 423 errors and will support use of Peermark by integration users.
Moodle Direct Integration
This is what we use in Bloomsbury. The new version of MD will connect via the new SOAP API. This will provide support for using Turnitin in the same way as users of the current ‘Dan Marsden’ plugin, which lets you use the normal Moodle assignment tool but still run an originality report. This may suit staff/departments which want the OR but don’t want to mark online.
It will be possible to download anonymous assignments (at the moment this function is switched off when anonymity is enabled, because Turnitin appends the student’s name when you download, so a code change will allow for downloading with names removed). The beta version of Moodle Direct v 2 is expected in May.

4. Guest Speaker 
Cheryl Reynolds (University of Huddersfield) - The JISC EBEAM Project
Cheryl presented an interesting case study of the implementation of Turnitin at Huddersfield under the auspices of EBEAM, which sought to drive uptake of online submission and marking. 
The emphasis was put on the benefits to staff. Lessons included: compulsion caused hostility. People will make the move in their own time, especially once colleagues are doing it.
Some tutors started using the new audio feedback option which students are responding very positively to – students in general felt the audio feedback was more personal and ‘human’ but it was also especially useful because of the greater accessibility of audio compared with text for visually impaired and dyslexic students.