Teachers at Bishop Kearney High School in Rochester, NY took part in a closed beta program integrating Turnitin with Campus Learning. How did it go?
“In a nutshell, it cut my workload in half,” said Michael la Liberte.
He went on to explain that, prior to the integration, “I would create the assignment in Infinite Campus and then I’d have to create the assignment again in Turnitin.com.” And that wasn’t all. Students also had to “submit assignments both in Turnitin for originality and in Infinite Campus for grading. But now, the integration allows me to create one assignment to be seen in both places. I never needed to logon to Turnitin. I could access all the student grades, look at their reports, grade them, and their grade goes into Campus Grade Book – seamlessly.”
“I didn’t need to do anything on Turnitin.com. Everything was created there, using Campus. That’s the best of both worlds.”
Let’s be honest. Anything that saves time for a teacher is a big deal. Teachers are busy and have extra responsibilities tacked on to boot. Michael, for example, who has spent the last 33 years at Kearney, wears many hats – from AP English teacher to Department Chair to Chief Information Officer.
Michael’s colleague, Kevin Whalen, also participated in the closed beta program. In his second year teaching art at Kearney, he also teaches a section of religion.
“Michael gave everyone the option to use Turnitin,” Kevin said, “and I used it for one of my assignments.” As the teacher in Infinite Campus, Kevin said, he just had to remember to click on Turnitin, “so the students knew they would be submitting their work through Turnitin.” But it was easy.
Kevin continued, “It was awesome when the program just created a profile or username for Turnitin, because I didn’t have one before. It was automatically created though Infinite Campus.”
A teaching tool
Kevin also looks forward to using Turnitin as a teaching tool in the future. “[I]t’s really nice that the students can submit and know … the originality percentage – to see how much they are plagiarizing – before they actually turn it in,” he said. He didn’t use that feature, but found out from other teachers in the beta program that it was an option.
Some teachers experienced some memorable teachable moments through the program, too. “I had a student who is pretty advanced,” Kevin said. “She is an 8th grader and she takes all 9th grade classes. But she was the one who had the most plagiarism in her paper. So it kind of blind-sided her. I basically explained to her what plagiarism is and what she needs to do to avoid those percentages … skyrocketing into the red zone.” (The red zone refers to the red color indicator in Turnitin that signifies that 75-100 percent of the text matches, or is similar to, another text.) Kevin noted the value of having a real conversation about plagiarism with students in middle school, to set them up for success in high school.
Michael appreciates the ability to use some of the options that Turnitin has, such as allowing students to resubmit, or not, late assignments.
Both Kevin and Michael are hoping more teachers will use Campus and Turnitin together next year. “We are also in the process of trying to have students create a digital portfolio by graduation,” Michael said. Using Turnitin.com would help facilitate that digital portfolio. Kevin sees other benefits for both teachers and students. “I think it’s the perfect learning tool. Instead of it being a ‘I’m going to catch you cheating’ kind of thing,” he said. With Turnitin, as students are working on their assignments, teachers can show what “makes them go into those red zones by not giving a work cited or not actually citing in your paper with MLA,” he added.
Available this summer
The integration with Turnitin requires Campus Learning and that your school district be on the latest update of Campus. That update will be available June 18. Before you can use Turnitin with Campus, your district’s Campus system administrator will need to take the update, make sure you have a license for Campus Learning and enable the integration.
About Closed Beta
An Infinite Campus closed beta program gives teachers and students the opportunity to experience new tools before they are released. It is a chance for our developers to learn from teachers and students and make changes and improvements before the tool is released to everyone.
Closed beta programs are not for everyone. The key to joining one is to know they are happening. “I saw on the Campus [Community] there was a closed beta, so I contacted one of the administrators of the Community Forum and she put me in touch with the development team to sign up,” Michael said. From there, it involved a little set up. “It was very easy. Once we did the configuration and set up all the other codes we needed for Campus, we were able to use it right away,” he said.