Blair's long history with the website may predict its future use
Turnitin.com began as a tool to catch cheaters. Indeed, that was the primary reason Blair subscribed to the website back in 2004. However, in the decade since, Turnitin.com has begun to offer versatile tools for teachers to implement in their classrooms.
An age of online education: Turnitin's new components
As the technology era dawned, Turnitin began to add other features to help teachers manage their curriculum electronically. The new components included GradeMark, online rubrics, PeerMark, GradeBook and discussion boards.
GradeMark enables teachers to grade papers and projects online. They can incorporate the feature of online rubrics, referring to these rubrics as they grade. Unique features exclusive to GradeMark include voice comments and originality checks. Voice comments enable teachers to directly communicate feedback to students, and originality checks can help prevent plagiarism. The originality check component scans the papers and compares them to the plethora of content stored in the website's database; it then produces a percentage that describes how much of the student's submission matches the scanned content. Ideally, this feature would discourage students from turning in plagiarized material, and indeed, according to the website, Turnitin.com has observed a "33 percent decrease in unoriginal submissions in the last eight years." PeerMark and GradeBook, though used less frequently by teachers, enable students to peer-edit each other's work and teachers to manage grades.
A teacher's perspective
Undoubtedly, Turnitin.com provides eco-friendly ways to educate. However, moving away from the tangible, paper-based form of submission and student-teacher interaction appears to be more difficult than imagined. English teacher Erika Rao professes her opinion on the complications that arose with Turnitin. "Currently we don't have electronic portfolios. We have paper portfolios, so we would have students print [their assignments] out anyways," she says, referring to the manila folders that contain a student's most important works over their high school years.
However, she feels that the website's benefits are also notable. "It's easier from my end because I don't have to carry that many papers. I can write more comments [because] I find typing easier," she explains. Rao also found a correlation between the volume of content in an assignment and the plagiarism rates among her students last year. "Smaller assignments were more useful [to assign] on Turnitin.com, because kids tended to plagiarize on smaller assignments [such as study guides]," she says.
Over the summer, Blair experienced a malfunction with the website. The 10-year subscription ended, leaving all teachers without access to the website. Lamphier clarifies on the confusion that occurred with the people who managed the website subscriptions. "Frankly, we didn't know there was going to be a problem until there was," she says, almost jokingly. "It was initially difficult to get in touch with the vendor, because they are based in California, and the timings were hard to work around, especially after we got back to school. But now we're finally in the process of renewing the subscription and the website is back in the works," she adds.
Divya Rajagopal. Hi! My name is Divya Rajagopal. I'm a junior and I love writing. I enjoy watching Suits and How I Met Your Mother and listening to Coldplay. I play tennis on my school team and ski in the winter. More »