eMarking tips & advice: Turnitin | Blackboard Assignments

This information is relevant to staff involved in marking work online

Over the next few weeks, many staff will be marking work which has been submitted via Blackboard or Turnitin.

To avoid any issues, please consult our E-marking essentials page, which provides essential information for anyone marking coursework and returning feedback to students online.

The page covers all aspects of assessment using Turnitin, Blackboard Assignments, and the Grade Centre:

  1. Preparing to mark online
  2. Marking assignments
  3. Moderation
  4. Releasing feedback and marks to students


There’s a few points we’d particularly like to highlight:

EMA Early Adopter Schools (APD & SAGES)

If you are in one of the Early Adopter Schools you will have been provided with specific guidance on e-marking and feedback. That information overrides the generic guidance on our support page.



Although you should be able to use Turnitin with all major browsers, advice received from Turnitin engineers and other institutions suggests that Firefox is the most reliable browser to use when providing feedback using the Feedback Studio.

If you do experience any technical issues with Turnitin over the Christmas closure period, you can contact Turnitin Support directly for help.


Blackboard Assignments

In January, we will be transitioning to a slightly different interface for providing online feedback on work submitted to a Blackboard assignment. Details can be found in this post on the TEL blog.

Instructors on a course with a Blackboard assignment due in December or early January, should already have been contacted with details of this change and what to do.


If you have any queries, please log them via the IT Self-Service portal.


Turnitin enhancement: Timeout setting revised

Turnitin updated Feedback Studio on 14th December.

The most important improvement appears to be this one:

“Fixed an issue where instructors were getting timed out of the Feedback Studio if marking student work for over an hour”.

We believe that this timeout issue may have accounted for issues experienced recently by a few staff at Reading.

As we understand the situation, leaving feedback within the Feedback Studio window was – incorrectly – not being counted as activity, with the result that staff could be logged out of Turnitin when they had been marking for 60 minutes. This has now been fixed.

User activity within the Feedback Studio window (e.g. key stokes and mouse clicks) will now reset the timeout clock. Therefore, the 60 minute timeout should now affect only those users who have the Feedback Studio window open for over 60 minutes without clicking or writing comments.

Continue reading

Suggested solutions if you encounter any issues when marking in Turnitin Feedback Studio

Here are some suggestions for staff marking student work using Turnitin Feedback Studio, in case you encounter any technical issues.

Very occasionally, you might find that

  • you are not able to save comments
  • you are not able to open previously saved comments
  • the Feedback Studio screen freezes.

If you do experience any of these problems, we believe that the simplest way to resolve them is to switch back to the old Turnitin interface, ‘Turnitin Classic’.

There is a link to do this at the bottom of the Feedback Studio window.

return to Turnitin Classic

(for more detail see our Feedback Studio User Guide)


You may also be able to avoid problems with the Feedback Studio by clearing your browser cache:



Finally, these issues may be related to Turnitin’s 60-minute timeout.

A Turnitin user session will not remain active indefinitely… Continue reading

Supporting your new students to use Blackboard – help is available!

Welcome Week 2016 is now less than a week away! It’s an ideal opportunity to introduce your new students to Blackboard and show them how to submit assignments online and where to find self-help materials. You’ll be pleased to hear that the TEL team have produced some customisable PowerPoint resources to help you to do this. Visit Blackboard’s Support for Staff tab where you’ll find a section called ‘Resources to use with your students’, as shown.

Support for Staff tab














Here you’ll find PowerPoint resources ready for you to amend to suit and help you support your students in their use of Blackboard:

Resources to use with students









Please also remember to signpost your students to Blackboard’s Support for Students tab for links to guides and help materials on all aspects of using Blackboard and Turnitin in their studies.

If students are unable to self-help using these resources and you find yourself unable to advise, they can contact staff in the relevant Student Support Centre or can get in touch directly with the IT Helpdesk by emailing it@reading.ac.uk.

We hope you find these resources and reminders helpful and wish you every success in the new term!


Turnitin webinar: Can Turnitin really help students to improve their writing?

As part of Turnitin’s series of webcasts on topics associated with their product, Academics from Australia will be presenting on how they have used Turnitin as tool to improve students’ academic writing skills.

The webinar will look at how initiatives to use Turnitin as an educational tool and the development of resources to support students in their use of the similarity reports can have a positive impact on academic integrity, and the student experience.

The webinar is taking place on 24th August 1 pm (AEST Australian Eastern Standard Time), which means it takes place at 4am BST but is in the ideal time zone for colleagues on the Malaysia campus. UK Colleagues can always sign up for the webinar and watch the published recording later on.

Register to join the Turnitin webinar

Tii webinar image 24 Aug 16

Blackboard Course Rollover is now complete

Blackboard Course Rollover for 2016-17 is now complete.

All course copying has taken place for

  • courses which ran in Blackboard in 2015-16 and are scheduled in RISIS for 2016-17
  • Shared and non-RISIS courses, where this was requested by staff.

In addition, for 2016-17 courses created through the rollover process

  • staff enrolments (Instructors and Teaching Assistants) have been copied forward
  • steps have been taken to ensure that courses have a completely clean Grade Centre, with no Blackboard or Turnitin assignments copied from previous years.

The final step in the rollover process – deletion of Turnitin assignments in copied courses – was carried out successfully last night, using a tool developed for us by Blackboard.

You are now free to start preparing your new courses for the forthcoming academic year.

This preparation should include ensuring that course materials such as

  • module / programme handbooks
  • assignment briefs
  • lecture and seminar material

are up-to-date and, where necessary, revising the course menu and structure to ensure that students can easily navigate the site.

You will also need to ensure that

  • Assignment submission points (Turnitin or Blackboard assignments) are created with appropriate dates and other settings.
  • Tests are made available to students with appropriate dates and other settings.
  • Talis reading list links are updated for the new academic year.

Help with all of these activities can be found on the TEL blog.

The TEL team will also be running a series of staff training sessions from September onwards – see the CQSD website for details.

Brand new courses for 2016-17

Courses which have not run before, and which are scheduled in RISIS, will now have been set up in Blackboard. You can use this IT form to request enrolment on a course – or see staff in your new Student Support Centre.


Additional course copy requests

For any further course copy requests, outside the rollover process, please use this form to request a course copy.

You can see a list of completed and pending course copies on the Copy Status page.

Please note that, from now on, course copies will exclude the Grade Centre. This means that, following a course copy, on the new course you will need to

  • delete any copied Turnitin Assignments
  • set up new Turnitin or Blackboard Assignment submission points with appropriate dates and other settings.
  • deploy Tests so that they are available to students with appropriate dates and other settings.


Student Enrolments

New students will not have access to Blackboard until they have completed the enrolment process – so, for most students, late September.

Returning students: the scripts to transfer enrolments from RISIS to Blackboard are currently being updated. These scripts will be enabled late August / early September, at which point students will be automatically enrolled on Part 2 and 3 modules  in Blackboard.

Update 7th September

Student course enrolments are now flowing automatically from RISIS to Blackboard for all courses – including Shared Courses – and organisations.