Category: Collaboration Tools
The social networking site Google+ is now officially available as part of BU’s Google Apps, accessible through your BU and Kerberos accounts. This includes the popular service Google Hangouts, which allows free group video conferencing. Google Hangouts provides a way to hold virtual office hours, even for multiple students simultaneously. Video conferences can also be streamed and archived to a wider audience via Hangouts on Air.
Please be aware that Google+, including Google Hangouts, is not governed by BU’s main service agreement with Google; as a result, confidential information such as student grades and comments should not be shared over these services, even privately, without the student’s express written consent. Further information is available via the TechWeb page for Google Apps.
Turnitin, BU’s supported software for academic integrity and faster grading, has recently introduced a “Cloud Submit” feature that allows students to submit assignments directly from Google Drive or Dropbox, convenient for students who are working on collaborative assignments in Google Drive or who do not wish to pay for Microsoft Word.
We recommend accessing Turnitin through its Blackboard integration. To create an assignment that will work in Turnitin: in any of your Blackboard course’s content areas (“Assignments”) or the like, go to the Assessments menu and select Turnitin Assignment, and follow the instructions. You’ll then be able to see the assignment’s results by going to Course Tools in the lower left corner of the course and selecting Turnitin Assignments. If Turnitin Assignments doesn’t appear under Course Tools, you can turn it on by going to Customization.
Note that while students may use Dropbox to submit assignments to Turnitin, faculty should never return student grades or comments through Dropbox. Because BU has no service agreement with Dropbox, Dropbox does not count as a school official for purposes of FERPA, and sharing student records with
At his Teaching Tech Talk today, Turnitin representative Shawn Lowney demonstrated some features of the Turnitin software that many users may be unaware of. Most faculty know Turnitin for its OriginalityCheck plagiarism detection function, and Lowney briefly addressed how it can perform this function well. But he also addressed other sides of Turnitin that may be less familiar.
Turnitin’s GradeMark portion contains many functions to make grading easier. Its QuickMark system allows you to save time on grading papers by dragging and dropping your most frequently used comments directly onto the paper. You can also add audio comments to convey the tone of your comments. Turnitin is integrated with Blackboard, so grades can be passed easily between the two systems.
Turnitin also includes PeerMark software to make student peer commenting easier by anonymizing their reviews. PeerMark is linked closely with OriginalityCheck and GradeMark so that you can move between the three kinds of reports easily and get a comprehensive view of a student’s work.
BU offers Turnitin via the Center for Excellence and Innovation in Teaching; these features are available to all BU faculty now. We do not yet have a structure in place for offering technical support to faculty, but hope to have one established soon.
BU has made the core set of Google Apps available to faculty and students for classroom use. Among the apps with the most educational promise are: Google Drive (formerly Google Docs), which allows easy commenting on student papers and collaboration work among students; Google Forms, which provides a quick way to solicit and tabulate student feedback; and Appointment Slots, an easy way to schedule office hours with students. All BU students have their email accounts through Google, so they are all able to use any of these tools without having to sign up for any additional services.
Because BU has a service agreement with Google, comments and grades on student papers can be provided in BU Google Apps without violating FERPA policy. (Commenting on student work through unsupported third-party services, like Dropbox, is usually illegal under FERPA.) To make sure you stay within FERPA guidelines, we highly recommend that you create a BU Google account to use Google Apps for educational purposes (rather than a personal Google/Gmail account). To create one, go to our account creation page and follow the instructions. You can log into this account by entering your BU email address as a username and not entering a password; Google will redirect you to the regular BU Kerberos login screen.
When you’re logged into a Google Account, you can access Google Drive via the Drive button in the black toolbar at the top of the screen. From Google Drive, the “Create” button will allow you to create forms. To use Appointment Slots, follow the instructions here: go to Google Calendar in your BU account, click on an empty space and click on Appointment Slots.