A new look for Turnitin

Turnitin, the Plagiarism detection service, will be getting a new look on Sept. 4th. While it’s not been easy to get previews, a few screencasts have now been released and can be seen at http://www.screencast.com/t/NTVjYWExY

I thought I’d briefly summarise the main changes here. There are some changes to the user interface, which seem to me to largely cosmetic, although still useful. Navigation is now across the top of the screen, rather than down the left hand side, which brings it into line with most other applications, and the assignment inbox has been simplified.  Unusually, Turnitin don’t seem to be giving users the opportunity to revert to the old version, something they’ve always done in the past.

However, the real changes are in the way in which originality reports are viewed.  Users do still have option to revert to the previous viewer for originality reports and grademark, if not for the interface.  If you do choose to do this comments and marks are maintained if you move between the different versions of grademark.  There’s a nice new “column viewer” for the originality report. Users can change the size at which the student paper is displayed.  (Up to about 3/4 of the screen seems to be available for this.)  The sources from which students have (allegedly) copied are now simply listed, and clicking on them opens a new window which floats around over the original source.  Another new feature here is that users are be able to see multiple sources (where the item the student has lifted is in more than one source). I’m not all that convinced of the value of this, because I’d have thought it’s main function would be to show how much web sites plagiarise each other!

The colour co-ordination between text and sources has been kept although, it’s now confined to a barely visible stripe against the source name.  But this new way of viewing the sources also offers opportunity to manually exclude sources from the originality report. You can also re-inlcude them if you change your mind. Doing either will recalculate the total originality score. So if you have asked students to take material from a web site, you can then exclude that particular site.

The final improvement in the videos is the introduction of a common viewer for originality reports, Grademark and peer mark. Essentially grademark and originality reports can be now seen in the same view.

What’s not yet clear is whether or how this will affect the Blackboard plug in. Relatively few users at Lincoln use the Grademark feature, so I doubt this will be an issue for now. However, with increasing moves to electronic forms of assessment, it is something that we’ll need to keep an eye on.