Learning Technology

Turnitin and Moodle: dealing with large cohorts – An Update

2 November 20th, 2012 at 12:11

Online assignment submission is increasingly becoming popular at the University, providing a convenient service for staff and students alike. The system we use to facilitate this process is called Turnitin, used by many Universities across the world. Regrettably in recent weeks, there have been problems with Turnitin being accessed via Moodle. Turnitin are aware of this problem as we aren’t the only University to be facing these issues. Turnitin promise us they are working on this as a matter of urgency. We apologise for the inconvenience caused.

Moodle Synchronising with Turnitin

Moodle Synchronising with Turnitin

Some of you may be aware of this blog post where we highlighted an issue with the Turnitin  integration within Moodle. This blog post goes into more detail and gives a little background to the issue. Unfortunately the code supplied to us by the vendor is not optimised as well as it could be. Specifically the synchronisation of data in Moodle with the data held on the Turnitin Servers. By default this happens automatically every time a student submits an assignment or a member of staff enters the assignment inbox.  On larger cohorts this synchronisation can take some time (looping through every submission and sending % match, submission time, grades etc back to Moodle) and the result is that students and staff are being held at the grey synchronisation progress screen for an extended duration.

We have identified a number of configuration changes that we can make on an assessment by assessment basis to improve things and where these have already been implemented they have been successful.

There are no limits on the (per module) number of students who can use the Turnitin system and the issue is not related to the time of submission. Turnitin within Moodle can cope with many concurrent submissions or submissions at the last minute.

However, currently without the configuration changes (the default position) the 155th, 175th or 250th… student to submit an assignment will find that the synchronisation stage will take longer than the 5th, 25th or 95th… student to submit. Consequently it is good advice to students not to submit at the last minute as the submission process might take longer than expected.

We are already working with a number of schools to assist them in making the necessary configuration changes. If you would like us to work with your school then please contact us Learning-Team-Support@nottingham.ac.uk

Note to staff: The most common change where the assignment has already been created is to turn off automatic synchronisation. Instructions on how to do this are in the previous blog post here. If you are yet to create your assignment then it might be worthwhile considering if you can restrict the amount of submissions into your assignment by creating multiple ones. Both of these actions are outlined in the previous post. In addition we are also gathering a list of all of the Turnitin assignments that exist with Moodle and will endeavour to contact staff where we think that there this issue may impact.

All of these actions are only temporary as we have escalated this with Turnitin and they assure us that a new version of the integration is underway, however at this stage there is no release date.

If you require any further clarification then please do not hesitate to contact us at: Learning-Team-Support@nottingham.ac.uk

  1. Manual synchronisation has been enabled on all modules that could be affected by this problem and that have submission deadlines in 2012. We are undertaking (daily) manual synchronisation on behalf of staff.

    Posted by ccznro

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