Turnitin is mostly known for its plagiarism detection software (a feature that can actually be turned off if you only want to use the features discussed below). For me, the real advantage of the program are the peer editing features, the quick commenting, and the rubric grading feature.
First of all, the software is not free. My college purchased a license so I have access to all features. It works well with some languages – I’ve used it in German and it worked just as well as in English. Even the interface can be changed by an individual, but I have not found a “force language” feature like the one in moodle.
Creating your own rubric and quick comments is easy, especially if you already have them in a digital format. Copy/paste and save. Took me about 15 minutes to import my existing rubric and our language section’s standardized correction key. Here you see a picture (sorry, it’s just a fake document for technology testing purposes):
On the right side you see the quick marks. All you have to do is drag them where you want them to be on the page. You can also add more detailed comments to existing marks or simply create new comments by clicking on the text. There’s also a highlight feature and and inline text commenting feature.
The rubric, once it sets up, allows you to click on the criteria and scales, and the grade is calculated immediately.
There’s a lot to be liked beside these features: peer-editing through computerized or selected pairing, guided peer reviewing questions, print and download features, a general commenting feature, and you’re able to assign draft and editing assignments.
It makes grading a lot easier, and since it’s all browser-based, you can start the process in the office and later finish the last papers at home, continuing where you left off when you left work.
Is it perfect? No, there’s a slight learning curve for some, and there’s no way to deliver audio comments, which would be a great feature for language courses.
Nonetheless, being able to get the job done and give meaningful, prompt, and traceable feedback makes this one of my current favorite tools in writing intensive courses. And it’ll cut down on paper and misplaced piles of folders…