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.
CEIT has now posted its list of Teaching Talks and Teaching Tech Talks scheduled throughout the Spring 2013 semester. The talks are scheduled on various dates and times to make it possible for faculty to explore some talks whatever their schedule. Some scheduled talks with an emphasis on new technologies include:
Databases for non-majors (Jan. 10)
The top 5 things faculty need to know about Blackboard Learn (Jan. 10)
Read & Write Gold (Feb. 6)
Flipped classroom and Echo360 (Feb. 13)
Collaboration tools in Blackboard Learn (Feb. 20)
iPad applications in the classroom (Feb. 25)
Google Apps in your classroom (Feb. 25)
Increasing instructional interactivity with clickers (Mar. 19)
Virtual student exchanges (Apr. 3)
High-tech cheating (Apr. 3)
How to use ePortfolios (Apr. 5)
Making grading easier and more transparent with rubrics in Blackboard Learn (Apr. 11)
Dimensions of online courses and student perceptions (Apr. 17)
In continuation of CEIT’s and IS&T’s efforts to engage faculty in the LMS migration, CEIT hosted a presentation on Blackboard Learn that focused on how faculty can use it for their course. Participants from the Blackboard Learn pilot were present to share their ideas and experience with the new environment. Some topics included:
- Collaboration tools in Blackboard: With this new system comes new tools and features. In terms of student collaboration, the three that are most significant are blogs, journals and wikis. Blogs allow students to share their personal thoughts with their classmates and gives them their own voice in the class. Journals, on the other hand, are designed to be a private communication between an instructor and a student. Finally, wikis are collaborative documents that allow students to edit each other’s work.
- Assignments and Rubrics: Faculty now have the ability to attached rubrics to their assignments, making grading more transparent to the students and much simpler for the instructor. Additionally, assignments are the new and improved way of accepting documents from students.
For more information on the presentation, please feel free to reach out to CEIT (email@example.com) or the presenter, Kacie Cleary (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Professors in several departments at BU (including Computer Science, Chemistry, Physics, and Mechanical Engineering) often use the free social discussion tool Piazza in their courses. Piazza is free, and allows threaded discussions to happen in a user-friendly way. Students in these courses are encouraged to post their course-related questions on Piazza, significantly reducing emails that are directed to the course staff. Questions posted on Piazza are then answered by the course staff, or, in many cases, by other students. Questions posed in these courses have ranged from logistical issues (“Which lab are we doing this week?”) to conceptual issues from students grappling with the material (“I tried solving problem 3 this way, but it didn’t work – can someone point me in the right direction?”) The latter are particularly good at drawing multiple students into the discussion.
Piazza can help you keep on top of what’s going on in your course, while at the same time reducing the amount of time you spend responding to students over email. Piazza posts can be read on the web site, whose features make it easy to see which posts need an instructor’s attention. They can also be viewed and responded to through the Piazza app on your favorite mobile device. You can also choose to get updates from Piazza via email. BU IS&T does not offer support for Piazza, but it is an interesting option for professors who feel comfortable exploring free online teaching tools.
In collaboration with the Center for Excellence and Innovation in Teaching, IS&T is happy to announce the faculty have been selected for the Blackboard Learn pilot. There are 21 faculty across the schools and colleges and about 35 courses. These courses all include undergraduate and graduate courses and large (largest at 900) and small class sizes (smallest at 10). There is a great collection of teaching styles that the steering committee feels will be representative of BU as a whole.
There is still a lot to do but we know this pilot will help shape our new learning management system. We will gradually phase out Blackboard 8 to make way for the new and improved Blackboard Learn.
You can expect to see updates and workshops on the project coming from CEIT over the next few months.