A popular assessment product on the edtech market today is Turn it In.  Turn it In assists teachers in determining if writing by students is original and in providing feedback to students about their work.  I will explore two topics in this post from both the student and teacher perspective:  benefits to learning process and hindrances to the learning process.

From the teacher perspective, it provides a way to collect digital work and keep it organized and together.  It provides grammar feedback to the student at the click of a button for an entire paper without the teacher having to invest any effort beyond learning how to navigate the system. It also has a comment bank that can be used to provide feedback.  Turn it In allows the teacher to create and save custom comments for reuse.  The main selling point is it flags for the teacher writing that does not appear original and provides links to other places online that have the same text. All in all, these are advantageous tools.  The science teacher can provide grammer feedback without spending hardly any time and focus on the science content of the work.  He or she can efficiently add comments because they are presaved in the system.  At the same time, there is a peace of mind of whether the work is original by way of the system generated originality percentage.

As far as hindrances, the system is a little overwhelming in features and choices to grade writing papers.  Without some research, it is a little hard to know what some of the choices mean.  While the features are sufficient and necessary, it is a lot to learn for a sole classroom purpose- written essays or reports.  You can’t collect other assignment types in the system.  It is not a learning management system.  For example, a P.E. teacher is not likely to decide to use the system for the couple written reports for the semester.

From the student side, a positive is that Turn It In provides a digital way to submit work and it accepts all sorts of file type, Word, Google Docs, etc.

As far as hindrances, it’s one more system for students to log into and one more password to remember. Sometimes students forget their passwords and when they go to retrieve the password as lost, the system does not recognize them as a username (email) in the system.  I have seen this happen on many occasions and is frustrating to students.  It is a known issue to Turn it In.  Another frustration from students is that the sole purpose in visiting the site is to turn in work.  You cannot get any other information for the course on the site.  The grammar check is handy, but it covers up the submitted work with little bubbles and as a student you must hover or click on the bubbles to find out about each one.  The printing of the corrected work is a nightmare and virtually impossible.  For this reason, you must have the Internet in order to look at the feedback from your teacher.  Without a second screen it is difficult to revise your work while looking at the feedback.  You can’t revise the draft that is displayed in Turn it In.

All in all, Turn it In provides a lot for a tool that’s sole purpose is written essays or reports.  That said, I think one improvement that would most positively impact student learning is a way for students to print out their feedback.  If you can’t really digest what you’ve been provided while revising, you can’t really make significant improvement.  Another improvement would be that the teacher interface is more streamlined.  I hear this is coming in their new facelift called Feedback Studio.  That’s my take on Turn it In from the student and teacher.  What’s yours?


Image:  Singh, Strawberry. Dreams. https://www.flickr.com/photos/strawberrysingh/13902610654 (CC BY 2.0)