Marking using Turnitin on your iPad? Time to update your app

Turnitin iPad app logoTurnitin have just released a new version of their iPad app: Turnitin Feedback Studio for iOS.

Actually, it’s no longer strictly an iPad app, as you can also install it on your iPhone or iPod Touch – although we don’t recommend marking student essays on a really small screen.



Existing iPad app users

Please ensure that you have finished marking and sync’d all downloaded papers before updating your app.

If you are already a user of the app, and have added one or more Blackboard courses to your ‘Class List’ in the app, you can for the time being continue to mark submissions on those courses without updating the app.

However you will need to update to the new version before you can mark work submitted to any other Blackboard courses.


What’s New

There is a revised method for connecting up Turnitin assignments in Blackboard to the App.

Instead of generating an Access Code in order to access a Blackboard course via the app, you now request a link to be sent to your email address.

To make use of this link, you must be able to access that email on your iPad.

This process is a more practical solution. It replaces the need to have your iPad to hand when generating the code on your desktop, and then having to type in the long letter code.

For full details of the revised method, please see our updated guidance, (or the instructions on the Turnitin support site.)

The Release Notes also list a number of bug fixes and minor enhancements.

Changes to Blackboard Assignments

Additional features in the New Box Viewer

If you make use of the Blackboard assignment tool, you will be aware that the interface for leaving comments directly on students’ submissions changed in January this year. Our guidance for staff on using the new Box interface can be found on this page: Marking a Blackboard Assignment online using the in-built tool (Inline Grading).

Please be aware that the Box Viewer runs as Software as a Service – that is to say, new features and improvements are added on a continuous basis, and do not rely on us upgrading the Blackboard system as a whole. A number of improvements requested by Blackboard users have already been introduced, with more promised for the coming months.

As of yesterday. the ability for markers to draw on the student’s submission (available via the old marking interface) has been added. And fewer clicks are required when adding multiple drawing or text comments on the page. These updated features are now included in our PDF guide: Marking a Blackboard assignment online using Inline Grading (New Box View)

Box drawing tool

We have also updated our student guidance on submitting to Blackboard Assignments, and locating and viewing marks and feedback, following our transition to the New Box Viewer.


Edit 12th March: new annotation features temporarily withdrawn

Box have discovered that the new annotation mentioned above were causing performance issues, and have temporarily removed them. We understand that the drawing tool and other features should be restored later this week, once Box have resolved their technical issues.


Important: Known issue for students Saving as Draft

Edit 09/08/18

This issue has been fixed by the Summer 2018 Blackboard upgrade

Blackboard have identified an issue which could have serious consequences if a student

  • uploads a file to a Blackboard Assignment
  • selects Save Draft
  • uploads a later version of the file, with the same filename, before submitting the attempt.

In this situation, the later version of the file will be successfully submitted to Blackboard, but the earlier version still displays on screen – i.e. the marker will inadvertently mark an earlier draft of the work.

Fortunately, this sequence of events is probably fairly rare, and it will always be possible to download the later file from Blackboard.

We have provided a warning about this on the Blackboard assignment submission screen, with a link to our guidance for students on how to avoid the issue.

Blackboard Assignment submission help text

Blackboard are working on a fix for this, which we expect to be available in the next week or two. However, with many assessment deadlines coming up, if you are using the Blackboard Assignment tool, please make your students aware of this serious, but easily-avoided, problem. Please direct them to the relevant information on the Student Support site, and tell them to contact IT if they have any issues.






Turnitin Feedback Studio: Save Error

Turnitin logo

Update – The issue is now resolved.


Here is the information from Turnitin:


Turnitin Service Alert


Some Turnitin and TurnitinUk users (including those integrated with our service) may have experienced an error when attempting to leave comments through Feedback Studio from Jan 29 1:30 am PST- Feb 03 7:09 PST/Jan 29 9:30 am GMT – Feb 04 3:09 am GMT/Jan 29 8:30 pm AEST – Feb 04 2:09pm AEST. Post resolution, root cause analysis was performed and monitoring / alerting has been put in place to further mitigate the chances of similar technical difficulties from occurring.




Original post:

Over the last few days some staff have encountered an intermittent error when attempting to add Quick Marks or comments, using the Turnitin Feedback Studio.

A ‘Save Error’ message is displayed as shown below.

Turnitin 503 error

This issue is affecting users at other institutions, and Turnitin are aware of the problem. At present, Turnitin have not been able to give us an indication of how quickly the error can be resolved.

If you experience this issue, please log a support call  via the IT Self-Service portal.

When doing so, please provide details of

  • the Blackboard course
  • the Turnitin assignment name
  • the Turnitin paper ID for a paper where this occurred
  • what kind of computer are you using – Windows or Mac?
  • which browser are you using?

It is also worth clearing your browser cache – this may not prevent the problem from recurring, but should delay its reappearance.


Please note:

If you are simply having trouble viewing or editing previously entered comments and Quick Marks, our recommendation is to switch to the Firefox browser.

However the ‘Save Error’ described above appears to affect all browsers.



Turnitin Feedback Studio: unable to view or edit Quick Marks

Turnitin logo

Some staff have reported that, when marking student work using Turnitin Feedback Studio

  • they are not able to view previously entered comments or QuickMarks
  • they are not able to open and edit previously entered comments or QuickMarks
  • the Feedback Studio screen freezes.

Turnitin are aware of this, but the intermittent nature of the problem makes a diagnosis difficult.

However Turnitin have said that, as far as they are aware, these issues do not occur in the Mozilla Firefox browser.

Therefore, when marking student work in the Feedback Studio, we recommend that staff use Firefox.

Updated inline grading interface for Blackboard Assignments now live

As previously advertised, our transition to the new Box interface for inline grading of Blackboard Assignments took place at 8 a.m. today.

When opening student papers submitted to a Blackboard Assignment, you may see a message saying “this file is being converted”.

Blackboard Assignment - please wait message

If you see this message, just press your browser’s Refresh / Reload button (F5). The file should then display immediately.

We have updated our guidance on marking Blackboard Assignments using the inline grading features:

Marking a Blackboard Assignment online using the in-built tool (Inline Grading)

Blackboard Assignments – New Box Viewer – technical information (including a list of supported file types).


These supplement our more general guidance on using

Blackboard Assignments

Group Assignments

and the Blackboard Grade Centre


If you have queries relating to this change, please contact the TEL team via the IT Self-Service portal.

Changes to the inline grading interface for Blackboard Assignments

As mentioned in a previous blog post, there are a few changes being introduced this week to the interface used when marking work submitted to a Blackboard Assignment.

Please note – this change does not affect Turnitin assignments, only Blackboard assignments.

The new Box marking interface will go live at 8 a.m. this Wednesday, 10th January.

There may be a brief period when papers submitted to a Blackboard assignment do not display inside Blackboard – at this time you will see a message saying “this file is being converted”.

Blackboard Assignment - please wait message

Once the transition to the new Box interface is complete, you may sometimes still see this message when opening a submission.

If you experience this, just press your browser’s Refresh / Reload button (F5). The file should then display immediately.


What annotation options are available?

When viewing a student submission you can

  • highlight text in the submission
  • highlight text and type a text comment
  • type a text comment

This short Blackboard video gives a good overview:

Highlighting text

Using your mouse, highlight any text, and a small toolbar appears.

Box - highlight menu

Box - highlight text icon Click on the pen icon to simply highlight the text.

Box - add comment to highlighted text icon Click on the speech bubble icon to associate a comment with the highlighted text.

Box - add comment to highlighted text

Click Post to save the comment.


Adding free text comments

Box - text comment icon Click on the speech bubble icon at the top of the page.

This message will appear.

Box - add text comment

Now click anywhere in the document, and you can leave a text comment.

Box - text comment

Click Post to save the comment.


Supported filetypes

The new Box viewer supports a greater range of files – for instance most image and video files can now be viewed directly inside Blackboard.

Not all files which can be viewed in Blackboard support highlighting / annotations, however. This list of supported filetypes shows which files can be viewed, and which annotated.

Please note that, at present, there are a few common file types – notably Excel and RTF files – which it is not possible to annotate directly in Blackboard.

Box, the third party company which provides the viewing/marking interface, are making constant improvements to their service, so additional functionality is being added on an ongoing basis – and Blackboard are working with Box to see that desired improvements are delivered as early as possible. Blackboard have also emphasised that Box provides

  • support for significantly more file types, including audio, video, and image formats
  • rore responsive browser support for accessing documents on any device across mobile browsers 
  • a more modern, cleaner UI that more seamlessly blends with Blackboard Learn

Additionally, Box is one of the world’s largest SaaS-based content management services, and as a result the New Box View service includes compliance with the strictest security and compliance standards.  


What will happen to feedback previously provided using Crocodoc?

The most important thing to know is that all feedback left using Crocodoc (the previous marking interface) will still be available when we move to Box.

The feedback will continue to be visible – to both staff and students – within Blackboard, and when the marked paper is downloaded as a PDF.

Please note however that, once we move to Box, annotations made using Crocodoc are “burnt in”, and cannot be edited or deleted.

Annotations added using Crocodoc, after the transition to Box

Annotations added using Crocodoc, after the transition to Box

Annotations added using Crocodoc, downloaded as a PDF, after the transition to Box

Annotations added using Crocodoc, downloaded as a PDF, after the transition to Box

Important notice for staff marking work submitted in December and early January:

In accordance with University policy, feedback on assignments where the submission deadline fell on or before 8th December (the last day of UG term), should have been made available to students by Tuesday 9th January.

However we are aware that there are some Blackboard assignments – particularly those set up for late submission after the due date – where our move to Box falls within the 15 day turnaround period.

If you are still marking work using the Crocodoc interface, please ensure that any annotations made on or before 9th January are in their final version – i.e. make sure that your annotations do not require further editing before they become visible to students.



What is affected / what is not affected

  • This change affects only Blackboard assignments. Turnitin assignments are not affected.
  • This change affects only annotations made using the inline grading features.
  • It does not affect
    • feedback provided via an uploaded feedback file
    • feedback typed into the ‘Feedback to Learner’ area
    • student Grades
  • Switching to the new interface is a relatively quick process, and we do not expect it to cause any disruption to students submitting work, or to the Blackboard service as a whole. There may be a brief period after 8 a.m. on 10th January when staff are unable to mark work submitted to Blackboard assignments.


Further questions?

If you have queries relating to this change, please contact the TEL team via the IT Self-Service portal.