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An Update from Turnitin CTO Ron Park

An update from Turnitin CTO Ron Park on updates that will positively affect user experience when using our products.

Ron Park
Ron Park
Chief Technology Officer
Turnitin

Dear Customers,

In April, you received a message from Turnitin CEO Chris Caren regarding recent service interruptions and the steps we are taking to ensure that our customers have a positive and reliable experience when using Turnitin. Over the past two months, we have embarked on a number of efforts to operate with greater transparency and connect more closely with the needs of the institutions, instructors, and students that we serve. Here’s an update on a few of the things we’ve done:

Contract Cheating: Our customers are concerned about contract cheating, the practice of students engaging a third party individual or service to complete their assignments, and so are we. We’ve partnered with universities in the United States, United Kingdom, and Australia to better understand this behavior and develop a solution. A new product offering, Authorship Investigation, was built in response to a growing demand from our customers, and they have been with us every step of the way. From participating in beta tests to advising on the process of potential academic misconduct investigations, leading higher education institutions have generously provided their time and insights to ensure that the tools we build truly address the problem they are encountering.

Improved Analytics: Timely, relevant data is more important in education today than ever before. Customers have told us that they want improved analytics, and we’re taking that request seriously. We’ve just announced our partnership with Unizin, a consortium of top US research institutions, to provide college and university faculty better data about how students are writing and revising their work. We are also in the early stages of collaborating with our existing customer base to define the next generation of analytics and their link to student outcomes.

Revamped Marking Workflows: Turnitin’s solutions offer so much more than just plagiarism checking features. We know that our customers, particularly in the UK and Holland, value our grading and peer review features and are eager to see optimized workflows. We are aware of this need and we are actively listening to customers to better understand what these capabilities should look like in an ideal use case.

Successful Failover Test: We have just leveraged the July 10th maintenance window to perform a successful failover test from our primary data center to our secondary data center. Turnitin has made significant financial investments in infrastructure, and the ability to failover from one data center to our secondary data center is a major step forward. Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery plans are vital to ensure higher uptime and better service for our customers. When we perform these failovers, we are able to upgrade, expand, and improve our infrastructure in the formerly-active data center. This allows Turnitin to keep up with our rapidly expanding paper database and provide performance improvements to the platform.

Service Health Update: In the spirit of greater transparency, we have launched a new and improved Turnitin Status page, which provides real-time service health information, news of scheduled maintenance, and a historical account of previous incidences. We encourage stakeholders to subscribe to updates to ensure that they are always informed about the latest site status.

Security Upgrades: Your connection with Turnitin is always encrypted as your data moves between your computer and our servers. The technical term for this form of protection is Transport Layer Security (TLS). TLS protocol secures communication between the servers you use to integrate with Turnitin. To maintain this security standard and safeguard against vulnerabilities, on December 31st, 2018, support will be removed for TLS versions 1.0 and 1.1.

We hope that these updates and improvements demonstrate how much Turnitin values working with the institutions, instructors, and students that use our products. Your unwavering commitment to academic integrity and writing excellence pushes us to continuously optimize our offerings to best meet your needs. Keep an eye on this space for additional updates from the executive team and myself.

Sincerely,

Ron Park

Chief Technology Officer & SVP Engineering and Operations