Global Innovation Awards 2016: Winner

Category: Student Engagement | Higher Education | UK

Joe Gazdula

Joe Gazdula

Senior Lecturer in International Partnerships: University of Bolton, Bolton

“The originality checker gives them the ability to refer to instant similarity scores which is fantastic because it gets them used to the idea very early on that referencing is something that they have to do when they’re completing a UK qualification.”

As a faculty member of the off-campus division of the University of Bolton, Joe works on partnership and franchise programs with students from places like Vietnam, Malaysia, Malawi, and UAE. They’re using Turnitin to help meet the University’s stated goal of making sure remote students receive the same high-quality education and feedback as their on-campus peers.

Joe explained that before assignments were required to be submitted via Turnitin, students from some of the more remote locations sent assignments by post. The assignment was then marked and returned by e-mail or physical mail, causing further delays as postal systems might be intermittent and even e-mail was sometimes unreliable. The whole process took a lot of time. Being able to ‘park’ marked work on Turnitin meant students could access the assignments when it was convenient for them, through their mobile device or when there was a reliable internet connection. 

Now that Joe’s division has embedded Turnitin into their Moodle Virtual Learning Environment, students can (and are required to) submit work online, tutors
can return feedback much faster, and it’s easy to access from anywhere. Joe says students without computers also really like being able to access feedback via mobile phone.

“Students have really benefited in areas of the world where it’s more normal to use information without permission” says Joe. “The originality checker gives them the ability to refer to instant similarity scores-which is fantastic because it gets them used to the idea very early on that referencing is something that they have to do when they’re completing a UK qualification.”

He estimates that Turnitin has saved staff around 25 percent of their time since they no longer have to sort through papers to identify copied material. Tutors say
that online assignments are easier to read, and they like being able to give voice comments for “soft” feedback.

The staff used to be referred to as the “flying faculty” because they travelled so much, says Joe, but that’s changing and tools like Turnitin that help students feel close, even when studying remotely.

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