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April 29, 2010

Turnitin No Longer Available in Blackboard as of SU2010

As of SU2010, DoIT is disabling the Turnitin (TII) plagiarism-detection software inside Blackboard, since it does not currently work in Bb's new version 9.1 that the campus will be upgrading to on May 26. Instead, DoIT recommends that faculty use the SafeAssign plagiarism-detection tool that is already built into Blackboard.

At its April 16 meeting, the Faculty Senate Computer Policy Committee (CPC) approved the recommendation to disable the TII "building block" (or 3rd-party "plugin"), which first began having technical issues in SP2008 when we upgraded to Bb version 7.3. At that time, Blackboard had also acquired SafeAssign, an alternate plagiarism detection tool, and made it part of the delivered Blackboard software.

Currently, it is not possible to return a TII-reviewed paper to students in the Bb 9.1 grade book, though faculty can assign a grade for it. This is a known issue reported by other institutions as well. As in the past, we have attempted to troubleshoot the TII issues, but there was and continues to be very little incentive for Blackboard and TII to collaborate.

While some faculty prefer TII functionality over SafeAssign, which does not have as large a submission database at this point in time, a recent report by Florida State University compared the two products and recommended SafeAssign. UMBC has not conducted a similar review, but at this point, neither tool has been widely adopted in many UMBC courses. Given past technical issues and the likelihood TII will be difficult to use in Bb, DoIT recommends faculty switch to SafeAssign, if only to concentrate our support on one tool that can still support UMBC's academic integrity initiatives.

For faculty who still want to use TII, which is paid for by the Provost's Office, they can do so outside of Bb by going to the TII website and supplying a UMBC code provided by Barry Casey, interim director of the Faculty Development Center. In addition,
students will need to create a TII user account to submit and receive papers that are reviewed for originality through the TII database.

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