Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Grademark's new features

One of the fantastic (albeit slightly unnerving) aspects of using Grademark to do my marking is that when new features are added, they simply ‘appear’ in the inbox of the document viewer, ready for me to use. I’m lucky in that I get alerts to some of these changes, but sometimes they feel like they’ve turned up unannounced. This is a great thing in that you always get the new features as soon as they are available without having to wait for an upgrade. But it can be, as I said, unnerving: especially if you are in the middle of conducting some training and there is a new feature there that you’ve not encountered before!
In the last few months a fair few new features have appeared and having just undertaken two rather significant blocks of marking, I thought it was worth reflecting on my experiences and uses of them. These are considered in no particular order.
response column showing 8 students had respondedResponse column: This is a new feature in the assignment inbox which shows if and when students have collected their feedback (image right). Of course it can’t tell us if they’ve engaged with their feedback, understood it and/or addressed it, but at least we now know if it’s been collected. I’ve been amazed at how quickly students have accessed their mark and feedback. For instance, a bunch of assignments were released at 1pm today and by 1.05pm, eight students had collected their feedback. Given I’d only sent the email alerting them to the release time having been moved forward 15 minutes earlier, I was pretty amazed by this! I checked an hour or so later and the number was up to 27 students: roughly a third of the total.
Rubric buttonRubric viewer: In the move to Turnitin 2, one of the things that a lot of people missed was the ability to see the rubric clearly. The new version of the rubric required you to mouse over each segment in order to see the words. A recent adjustment means that with the click of a single button (the four-arrow button in the image to the left) the whole rubric can be opened out into a full view and can be moved to a second screen. I tend to use two monitors (I dock my laptop to a screen whenever I can) so I’ve now got into the habit of opening the rubric straight away and moving it onto my second screen. This means I can adjust it as I go rather than having to remember everything at the end of the paper. It also means that you can put a lot more detail into the rubric segments and still see it all clearly which is a vast improvement on the old view of the rubric.
Strike through: when you highlight text in the document viewer and click the ‘delete’ or ‘backspace’ key a red strike-through line appears. This is really handy for correcting spelling errors (I type the correct spelling above the word using Text Comment, but it’s also really useful to show students how they can simplify their language by eliminating unnecessary words or turns of phrase. I’ve done this several times with sentences or whole paragraphs and left a comment next to it saying to students that I have ‘deleted’ words to show how many unnecessary words they are using.
These three new features are pretty simple but I’ve been amazed at how quickly and easily I’ve been able to incorporate them into my marking practice.

Getting started with Grademark

Tabitha from Turnitin has just sent through this fantastic interactive guide to Grademark. This is a really handy tool for anyone who is keen to find out the basics of this tool.