Leicester School of Biological Sciences

9 February 2010

Peermarking in Turnitin

Filed under: Blackboard, how_to, news, turnitin — Tags: , , , — jobadge @ 1:00 pm

PeerMark appeared in the January roll out of a major Turnitin update in January 2010. For a change, this new feature works within the Blackboard integration, so I’ve been taking a look at it. Here is a quick video demonstrating one of the assignments I set up.

There is a full demo of the system available on Turnitin’s support website.

If you want to do anonymous or open peer marking with students, this is certainly a good way to do it.  It was used on the Bioinformatics MSc last week, which has been written up as a separate case study.

I have some usability issues with the system – it is difficult to preview the assignment to know how exactly it will appear to students.  Getting the dates for submission and posting sorted out can be challenging, there are a lot of dependent dates involved and again it isn’t intuitive to know what dates to pick. Overall if you want to do peer marking on work that can be submitted through Turnitin, this is a good option.

19 January 2010

PeerMark in Turnitin

Filed under: Blackboard, how_to, news, turnitin — Tags: , — jobadge @ 2:59 pm

Peermark is a system within Turnitin that enables you to distribute student submitted work back amongst the cohort for peer review. The students review work already submitted to an existing (or newly created) Turnitin assignment.


1. Allows anonymous peermarking using a set of questions set by the instructor. The questions can be rating (is this paper good/poor) on scale of 1-5, open text answers.

2. Good control over the distribution of the work amongst students. You can set how many scripts each student reviews. These can be randomly assigned by the system, chosen by the student. You can pre-assign students in pairs or exclude students from the process altogether.

3. Instructors can write a review of the student work themselves and comment on the reviews the students have undertaken.

4. Students can see reviews written by others on their work easily

5. Students can download reviews of their work.


1. As we re-use our courses year on year in the Biological Sciences undergraduate courses, the links to the peermark assignments will be lost at the end of each year

2. I can see no way to keep any of this work ‘offline’ after the fact (easily) for staff/ QA/ External examiners

If you would like to use Peermark please feel free to get in touch with me.

Demonstration of setting up peermark by Turnitin

26 June 2009

Summer updates to Turnitin

Filed under: Blackboard, news, turnitin — jobadge @ 8:02 am

Several updates are coming to Turnitin this summer. I’ve highlighted some of them below:

Global exclusion Bibliographic materialTIIbibliography

Default setting for all new assignments will be to exclude bibliographic and quoted material from the Similiarity Index

Currently, within an individual originality report, instructors must choose to exclude bibliographic and quoted material. When this new feature launches, instructors will be able to indicate their preferences at the assignment level. The default for all newly created assignments will be for this content to be excluded. (Originality reports generated prior to the feature’s launch will remain unaffected; whatever exclusion preference was set for each individual original report pre-launch will remain post-launch). This assignment-level preference can be changed up until the first paper has been submitted. In all instances, as currently, an instructor can view an originality report and change the individual paper’s settings to include or exclude bibliographic and quoted material.

Optional Exclusion of Small Matches in the Originality Report

Instructors may choose to indicate that the similarity index for every originality report for an assignment should exclude matches equal to or less than a certain percent (1% – 100%).  The default setting is that ALL matches are shown.

The size of matches that have been excluded (if any) is clearly indicated on each originality report. Instructors can adjust the size of matches to exclude while viewing each originality report and those adjustments are immediately reflected in the originality report.

Instructors may sometimes find limited value in seeing large numbers of small percentage matches for an assignment. Now instructors have the flexibility to choose what level matches should be included in the computation of the similarity index and highlighted in the originality report.  This flexibility provides instructors with an additional degree of control in evaluating student assignments.

Improved Handling of Document Submissions and Multiple File Uploads

New productivity and usability enhancements for submissions that:
•    Double the size limits for individual file submissions (from 10MB to 20MB) as well as zip file (batch) uploads (from 100MB to 200MB).
•    Improve user notification for submissions that exceed the maximum sizes (and guidance to help fix the issue);
•    Streamline the process for uploading zipped files of multiple documents.

Currently, instructors must repetitively select and tag each document (author name, email, paper title) for upload. Now instructors will select multiple files and conveniently enter document information into a table.

15 June 2009

Changes to Blackboard 9

Filed under: Blackboard, how_to, news, turnitin — Tags: , — jobadge @ 1:00 pm

On 1st August 2009 Blackboard will undergo a major upgrade (from version 7 to 9).

What action do I need to take now?

  • Make sure that you are using Internet Explorer 7 to access Blackboard 9. If you have upgraded to Office 2007 this is part of the upgrade. If you need to access Blackboard from home or a non-cfs PC you will need to upgrade those machines. Office 2007 for home is available from ITS for £17. IE7 is available free to download from Microsoft
  • IE 8, Firefox 3 and Safari 3 are also supported.

What will stay the same?

  • Your courses will be automatically transferred to the new software
  • Jo Badge will still recycle them ready for the new academic year (remove the 2008/9 students and enrol the 2009/10 cohort)
  • You will still be able to use the TurnitinUK system for submitting work for plagiarism scanning. I strongly recommend that you create new TurnitinAssignment items for students to submit work rather than re-use previous links.

What will change?

  • The major change is to the way that you add and edit information on course sites. This now predominantly occurs through in-context menus (i.e. click on an item to change it). The control panel is also accessible from the main course page .
  • Interactive screenshots of an instructor view and edit mode in Blackboard 9
  • Some things will disappear: electronic blackboard, digital drop box, signup list, student homepages.
  • Some things will get better: the gradebook is much enhanced and requires far less clicking to operate

Interactive instructor view

Interactive instructor view

Interactive instructor EDIT view

Interactive instructor EDIT view

What support is available?

  • ITS are providing quick overviews of the changes on: Tuesday 23rd June: 11am – 12pm and Monday 7th September: 2pm – 3pm (Book via staffdev@le.ac.uk )
  • Jo Badge will be running an overview of the changes that affect academic and support staff in the School in the week beginning 14 September 2009. Location and further details will be announced soon.
  • A meeting with MSc convenors has already been arranged for 25 June to take account of the MSc’s earlier start in the academic year.

More information on the upgrade is available from ITS

1 June 2009

Upgrading to IE 7

Filed under: Blackboard, how_to, news — Tags: , , , — jobadge @ 10:06 am
photo credit: flickr jeffwilcox

photo credit: flickr jeffwilcox

ITS are pushing us to upgrade to Internet Explorer 7 – if you use IE for your web access and use Blackboard you MUST upgrade to use the new version of Blackboard coming over the summer for use in the next academic year.

From ITS:

7 reasons to change to Internet Explorer 7 (IE7) – upgrade now

It’s easy to upgrade from IE6 – find out about the new features in IE7 and how to install it

To find out which version you are using, open Internet Explorer and press F1 to open the help dialogue box. If the logo on the right displays an ‘e’ in a square box and doesn’t state the version number, then you are still using IE6.

There are plenty of reasons to change to Internet Explorer 7 and it’s easy to install:

1. Tabbed browsing

If you want to keep your current page open and browse for something else, just start a new tab. This means there’s only one copy of IE7 open (which uses less PC resources) and you can easily jump from one page to the next. You can open multiple tabs then close them individually or all in one go.

Even better than tabbed browsing – if you have a lot of pages open in tabs already you can view thumbnail previews of them to help you navigate to the correct one more quickly

2. Supports Blackboard 9

Blackboard 9 is being introduced in August 2009. Certain functions will not work with IE6, so why not upgrade now so that you’re ready for the changeover. IE6 will not be supported after October 2009.

3. Page zoom

You can quickly zoom in on a web page to make it easier to read. The whole layout including the navigation, pictures and text can now be magnified.

4. Improved printing

IE7 will automatically scale the page to fit when printing whereas if the page if it is too wide to fit the print area in IE6 then text will be lost.

5. Instant search box

The Google search box appears on the toolbar so you don’t need to navigate to your search engine first – just start a new tab, type in your search & go.

6. Newer and improved security

Improved security is available in IE7. Malicious coders look to exploit vulnerabilities in older browsers – you are more at risk from viruses, malware and hacking if you don’t have the latest supported version.

7. End of support

Support for IE6 will be phased out from the beginning of the new academic year 2009/10

What’s new in IE7

7 May 2009

Upgrading to Blackboard 9

Filed under: Blackboard, news — Tags: , , — jobadge @ 2:58 pm

You will have seen that ITS have announced a major upgrade for Blackboard for the new academic year. credit: Garrettc flickrWithin the School of Biological Sciences I will be reviewing the impact of this upgrade on our practices. If you have any questions or concerns that you would like to raise, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Internal support and information pages for version 9 upgrade.

Link to register for ITS briefing session 27 may 2009 on the upgrade

credit: Garrettc flickr


The Blackboard virtual learning environment will be upgrade during the summer vacation (2009).

The planned upgrade date is MONDAY 3rd AUGUST and IT Services will be upgrading Blackboard to the latest version of the software – version 9.0.

Why: For technical reasons the Blackboard service was not upgrade for this academic year (2008-2009) and our current version (version 7.3) will become unsupported in October 2009. Blackboard Version 8 saw an upgrade to the grade book which now supports multitude of ways to customize the display of the Grade Centre, however, this version remains problematic so IT Services has decided to upgrade to Blackboard Version 9.

What does it Offer: Blackboard Version 9 is the latest release and features an expanded” Web 2.0” and “social learning” tools, such as blogs and journals and the new Blackboard Sync facility allows certain Blackboard content to be available to users of Facebook and the Apple iPhone.

What are the Changes: The major change for Blackboard users is the redesigned and customizable user interface. Although the student view basically remains the same as previous versions there are some significant changes in the user interface for course instructors – although the basic Blackboard functionality remains the same.

19 March 2009

Pedagogic Research in the Biosciences

Filed under: news — jobadge @ 9:30 am

HEA Centre for Bioscience event at Leicester
Tuesday, 24 March 2009
Woodhouse Room, Charles Wilson Building, University of Leicester

The day will explore different methodologies and provide you with the opportunity to meet like-minded colleagues and promote pedagogy in the biosciences. This event is targeted at bioscientists with some experience of pedagogic evaluation and research. Registration form.


10.00      Registration and refreshments
10.20     Welcome and Introduction to the day Steve Maw, Centre for Bioscience
10.30     Social Science Research Methodologies: Bonnie Green, University of Leicester
11.15     Practitioner Perspectives: three scientists give the benefit of their experience in moving into education research with a “warts ‘n’ all” deconstruction of a piece of their own work.

  • Teaching about bioethics through authoring of websites: Chris Willmott, University of Leicester
  • Exploring peer and self assessment of oral presentations: opportunistically using residential field courses for Action Research: Mark Langan and Rod Cullen, Manchester Metropolitan University
  • A farewell to controls? The problems with experiments in education: Mark Huxham, Napier University

Followed by general discussion
12.30     Lunch
13.30     Afternoon Session: Facilitated by Paul Orsmond

Attendees will have the opportunity to join discussions on

  • Evaluating Pedagogical Research led by Jon Scott,
  • Feedback led by Paul Orsmond.

15.30     Feedback: Facilitated by Paul Orsmond
16.00     Reflections and Close

5 November 2008

Changes to printing in open access areas: November 2008

Filed under: news — Tags: , — jobadge @ 11:18 am

Students will soon be able to pay for printing online using a debit or credit card and print using the wireless network service. From on Tuesday, 11 November 2008 the changes to the open access printing areas will become live. Full information available on the ITS website.

10 October 2008

Electronic voting now available on CFS

Filed under: how_to, news, voting — Tags: — jobadge @ 1:54 pm

The software that supports the electronic voting system, (also known as ‘clickers’ or ‘who wants to be a millionaire?’) is now available on CFS. Turning Point 2008 can be used to write voting questions on any CFS PC in a special version of PowerPoint (2007 or 2003). The drivers to enable voting in teaching rooms, computer rooms and labs are being installed across campus. All first year BS, MB, MG and MP students now have handsets for the full academic year. So if you are conducting voting with first years, all that is now needed is a small USB receiver connected to the presenting machine. Three voting receivers and an additional 115 handsets are available for teaching use with other undergraduate or postgraduate students.

Turning point 2008

Turning point 2008

An online form is available to book the equipment and you can see you booking in the online calendar.

More supporting information on how to use the system, including user guides, booking information, ideas for using voting in your teaching are available on Jo Badge’s support site.

15 July 2008

Deadlines for submission of forms reporting Extenuating Circumstances that may have affected preparation or performance in exams

Filed under: news — Tags: , — jobadge @ 6:58 pm

Deadlines for submission of forms reporting Extenuating Circumstances that may have affected preparation or performance in exams
Please advise students with Extenuating Circumstances affecting exams that they must submit the appropriate form and documentary evidence to the School Office by the following deadlines:

  • September 2008: Monday 8th September 2008, 15:00
  • January 2009: Wednesday 28th June 2009, 15:00.
  • June 2009: Wednesday 10th June 2009, 15:00.
  • September 2009: Monday 7th September 2009, 15:00.

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