Tag Archives: Turnitin

Winter Weather Impacts Teaching and Learning

The winter has already been disruptive this semester with the potential for more disruption in the semester! The following is a brief explanation of a few centrally supported University services you can use as you are trying to recover from classes missed during campus closings and delays. Links are provided to tutorials for each service when available. The Faculty Center instructional designers are available for consultation and assistance with these services, or can connect you to the relevant University support.


ANGEL is the most commonly used learning technology at Penn State. However, most faculty are not using ANGEL to teach courses completely online, so they may not be familiar with using the complete set of tools available. ANGEL makes it easy for instructors to post course materials online, facilitate class communication and teamwork, collect student work, gauge student progress, manage a gradebook, and extend learning beyond the classroom. Some online options include posting instructional videos or other files, quizzing, using dropboxes for students to submit assignments electronically, connecting with students via Live Chat, and monitoring attendance through online participation such as discussion forums.

Sites at Penn State 

Sites at Penn State, powered by WordPress, can be used to post media files and other educational resources. This web publishing platform will replace the current Blogs at Penn State service. ITS provides technical and pedagogical support of these features through a series of how-to guides, hands-on sessions, and recorded training sessions available from their Support section.

Web Conferencing

Adobe Connect is a web conferencing tool that can be used to create and distribute lectures and presentations. Connect supports audio, video, slide presentations, screen sharing, and whiteboard activities, as well as chat and polling. Live sessions can be recorded for later viewing by those who were not able to attend the session. In addition to live presentations, Adobe Connect can be used to create prerecorded lectures that students can watch at any time. Getting Started information, Best Practices, training information, and support resources are provided at the Meeting@PennState site.


Podcasts are simply audio and video content to which you can subscribe. iTunesU makes it very easy for people to find and access this rich educational content. Visit the iTunesU Dashboard instructions for more information. The Podcasts team (podcasts@psu.edu) provide the front line support for the iTunesU service. Nick Smerker, our Media Commons consultant, is the best contact for assistance in creating podcasts.

Pre-recorded Lectures

Faculty who are comfortable recording their lecture material ahead of time have several options. They can create audio or video recordings and make them available to their students through ITunes U. Faculty who would like to sync audio with PowerPoint slides can use Adobe Presenter on Windows or Keynote on a Macintosh. Adobe Presenter is available for purchase through Software at Penn State. Another option is our One Button Studio located in Harrisburg’s library. Additional software options include Jing, QuickTime, and Camtasia.


Turnitin is a web-based writing assessment tool with options for online grading and commenting, creation of peer review assignments and reports for determining assignment originality.


VoiceThread makes it easy to create and interact with online presentations. VoiceThread is a web-based application that allows you to place collections of media like images, videos, documents, and presentations at the center of an asynchronous conversation. A VoiceThread allows people to have conversations and to make comments using any mix of text, a microphone, a web cam, a telephone, or uploaded audio file. Faculty are using VoiceThread to create new forms of conversations online. Visit VoiceThread to access a variety of “Getting Started” resources.


Yammer.psu.edu – Similar to Facebook, Yammer is a social media tool that allows classes to communicate and collaborate anytime, anywhere.  Instructors can instantly upload handouts and assignments, chat, post discussion questions, or direct their students to any alternative classroom experience, all from their laptop, tablet or smartphone.  For more information, please review some Yammer use cases.

Lynda Tutorials

Learning on the go, lynda.psu.edu features over 2,300 courses, compiled of over 110,000 video tutorials. Lynda is an excellent resource for students, faculty, and staff to learn software, creative techniques, and business skills at their own pace. Vetted instructors walk the user through tutorials that are segmented into easily digestible videos, available anytime on their desktop or mobile device. You can assign specific tutorials for a project or course work, and/or provide tutorials to supplement a course.

NBC Learn

NBC Learn was originally developed for use in K-12, but has since been adapted for Higher Education. Through a licensing arrangement, Penn State instructors and students can access the NBC Learn archives of high-quality archival video of historical events and documentary shorts. The vast archives of educational content  includes history/politics, science, the arts, social issues, business/economics, and more.  Students can access historic footage in order to gain additional perspectives into recent historical and political events. The archival footage can also serve as a point of departure for a discussion of mainstream media coverage of current events, including changes in coverage over time. In addition, the video format can provide an optimal way to present images to students, which can enhance comprehension of many topics.  (There’s even some brand new content on the Science and Engineering of the 2014 U.S. Olympic Games – including The Science of Ice and the Science of Snow.)


Why students cheat and what we can do about it

I just read a feature article posted by the American Psychological Association providing some depressing statistics and, what I feel are, common insights into why students cheat. A survey of 40,000 U.S. high school students found that more than half have cheated on a test, 34% have done it more than twice, and 1/3 have used the internet to plagiarize. Additional surveys indicate that their behavior continues in college, and might even be associated with dishonesty later in life.

The article provided reasons on why students cheat: academic pressure to do well, low intrinsic motivation (learning)/high extrinsic motivation (grades), peer influence (cheating is contagious), and the need to stay competitive.

The real value of this article was in reading about a student-led effort at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD), where a student petition is calling “on faculty to provide more education on academic integrity, state more explicitly the rules for academic integrity in the classroom and report all cheating when they see it.” At UCSD, “all freshmen must complete an online tutorial on academic integrity before they can register for their second-semester classes.” Professors are encouraged to spend time in the first week of classes to stress the importance of academic integrity and explain the behaviors that constitute cheating, including the consequences. UCSD’s academic integrity coordinator feels that a university-wide initiative such as theirs must include an assessment to first capture student and faculty attitudes and current behavior. It makes sense to understand the current state of affairs before developing a strategy to move forward. 

At Penn State Harrisburg, faculty invite the Learning Center’s writing specialist, Kathy Brode, to visit their classes and address plagiarism issues with their course writing assignments. Faculty also build in a process of writing with multiple milestones and deliverables that makes it more difficult to plagiarize. An increasing number of faculty also use Turnitin for plagiarism detection. When they have their students submit a draft of their writing assignment to Turnitin and allow them to see their own originality report, it often creates a teachable moment. Penn State has an iStudy module, titled Academic Integrity, Plagiarism, and Copyright, that they can import into their course in ANGEL for student use. The module “has been reviewed by Judicial Affairs and the Academic Integrity Committee,” and includes materials for the instructor and the students. I would love to see an initiative led by students and faculty, with strong administrative support, to build a stronger climate of academic integrity here, promoting ethics and professional integrity.