August 15, 2015
Teachers Talk - Several Benefits of Web-Based Submissions
Mike Berdan, Teacher, Parkview Adventist Academy, Lacombe AB, Teacher, Parkview Adventist Academy, Lacombe AB

I have used the website TurnItIn.com for several years. At the beginning of the semester, the students enroll and can submit their essays to the site. Initially, I used this website to check each student paper against plagiarism. However, I have run into a few new reasons why it is beneficial to use this site for more than just a plagiarism check.

Recently, the students have been coming to my class with a numbers of reasons why they are unable to print off an assignment. I think I have enough information to write a book of excuses why the printer does not work. I began to grow really tired and irritated with their excuses. I was never a fan of having the students submit their assignments to my email account. My inbox just ended up getting cluttered. Prior only large essay assignments were submitted to TurnItIn.com, but this semester I have started having the students submit all of their written assignments through this site.

Initially, I  had not realized it, but one of the benefits of having the students submit their assignments to this site is the fact that I now receive homework before my students come back to class for the next lesson. To some this might not really matter. However, I strive to always stay on top of my marking and not fall behind. I realized that by marking the students’ assignments before they came to the next class, I had a solid idea of whether or not they were understanding the information that was taught in the previous lesson. It let me know whether I had to go back and reteach a topic, or if there was one or two key points that needed review. I have found this most beneficial. I do not have to use precious class time reviewing something that I have evidence that the students already understand.

Another interesting trend that I started to notice was that the number of missed assignments has been dramatically reduced. I no longer have to deal with excuses as to why the printers were not working. One of the issues that I did face with this new process was dealing with students who missed the submission deadlines, however, with a little practice, the students have become used to making sure that they submit their work to the website with plenty of time to spare.

Another feature that I really enjoy with TurnItIn.com is the ability to comment on the students’ papers. This may not seem like anything new. I used to write comments all over student papers. However, many students would not like their scores and would discard the work without really looking at it. Sometimes all the red ink would cause them to not take a second glance. During the semester, the students have full access to all of the work they turn in to TurnItIn.com. They are able to go back and check comments that were made on previous papers and see if their work is improving, or what they need to do to fix an issue. By having the ability to track all their papers, I feel that it gives them a sense that they are growing academically and are actually making progress during the semester. By giving them a sense of growth, I have seen first-hand the confidence levels of my students grow as the semester draws closer to the end when they write the hated provincial exams. Going into the exams with confidence, my students continually score far higher than provincial averages.

Overall, educators need to be aware of the different technological advances that have been developed. It is important to look into these new educational opportunities and give them a chance before writing them off.  By giving the students every opportunity to grow, we allow them to feel confident. With confidence, it is amazing to see what the students can achieve.