Turnitin rendering problem with some submissions containing embedded graphs and charts

There is currently a rendering issue within Turnitin, which may result in certain embedded elements of submissions being incorrectly rendered in the Turnitin online viewer.  This issue may affect submissions where tables / graphs / images have been embedded / inserted / pasted into a Word document or Open Office document, which has then been submitted to Turnitin in the format it was created in (for instance .docx for Word documents).  We do not believe this issue to be widespread, or that it affects a large number of submissions.

This issue does not occur where the document was saved and submitted as a PDF file rather than in the original file format of the authoring software, or where the document does not contain tables / graphs.  The issue also does not affect the underlying file itself (which remains untouched and can be downloaded as a reference). If you are marking student work and you suspect that the formatting doesn’t look as it should, or there is a graph/table missing, download the original file and view it before awarding a final grade.

If you are using Turnitin in your module, and the submitted work is likely to contain graphs and/or charts, please make students aware that they are advised to save and submit their work in PDF format in order to minimise the chances of this rendering issue occurring.

For some versions of word simply exporting as PDF may not fully resolve the issue. If this is the case, another solution is to convert the Word document into a PDF using Adobe Acrobat.

Thanks to The University of Southampton for providing the bulk of this item.

International AR and VR conference

On the 23rd of February I attended the International AR and VR conference at Manchester Metropolitan University.

There were a number of themes running through the talks I attended. The first was about People’s perception of VR. How do people feel when wearing a headset? This looked the social implication of wearing a headset not the physical comfort. It also looks at how you were perceived by other people when you were wearing a headset, smart glasses or a HoloLens. A new phrase “Fashionology” was coined when looking at how people perceive wearable technology as being purely utilitarian or a fashion statement. A notable finding was that early adopters of new wearable technology often found that people they didn’t know would start conversation with them about the item they were wearing.

Another theme was 360 video. A. Gower from BT sports covered some of the issues of broadcasting 360 video from a live sporting event. One being that cameras have to be left unattended to keep the camera men out of shot. Then officials (not yet familiar with 360 video technology) often move the cameras. Another issue is the vast bandwidth required to upload the multiple ultra HD video feed which are needed for 360 video. There was also the dissemination of the preliminary findings of research done for the Irish tourist board by A. Gidson and M. O’Rawe. They monitored the effectiveness of 360 video produced by the Irish tourist board promoting walking in Ireland.

For me the stand out presentation was from Microsoft with the demonstration of the HoloLens. The HoloLens is a wearable MR (mixed relay) headset that to the user adds a virtual lair of data over the real world. A HoloLens combines the functionality of smart glasses, the Microsoft Kinect, and a powerful windows 10 PC in a standalone mobile device. Unlike the Oculus rift and the HTC vive you are not fully immersed into a virtual world, you are not tethered to a powerful PC, and you don’t need hand controller. The HoloLens uses its’ Kinect functionality to track your hand positions and detect hand gestures to control the interface. The Kinect functionality also models the real world environment, building a 3D mesh of the environment in which it is being used. Knowing what’s around it, you can then attached virtual apps to a real world surface. This was demonstrated by placing a virtual ballerina on a step in the lecture theatre, and then moving around so that audience members were between the HoloLens and the ballerina, the parts of the ballerina that were behind the audience members did not show up. This gives the illusion that the virtual ballerina was really occupying a position in real space. The speakers P.Daukinits & M. Taulty explained that the HoloLens had all the functionality of a windows 10 PC. You could open all your normal windows 10 app and attach them to real space objects. You can place a video on a wall and make it as big as you want or place a virtual recipe book next to the cooker. You can also make a Skype call and see the point of view of the person you are talking to.


There are still some limitation to the HoloLens at just under £3000 it is prohibitively expensive, the field of view is still quite limited, there are problems if like me you wear glasses, and the hand tracking is not as accurate or versatile as using VR hand controllers. However I believe that the HoloLens or at least future incarnations of the HoloLens will be more ubiquitous than full immersion headsets as there uses are far more varied than full immersion VR. Also because the HoloLens anchors you to the real world you don’t get motion sickness.

Digi Know You can use Rubrics with Turnitin

What is a Rubric

A rubric is a guide listing specific criteria for grading or scoring academic papers, projects, or tests to ensure uniform marking. Online rubrics are normally set out in a grid showing criteria down the side and attainment level across the top.


Importing Turnitin Rubrics

Digi you know that Turnitin has prebuilt rubrics that you can down load and either use straightaway with one of your assignment, or use as a starting point when creating your own rubrics.

Download Turnitin rubrics here: http://turnitin.com/en_us/community/teaching-tools/rubrics

You can also download an excel template for creating rubrics off line from the import page.

Once you have imported a rubric you will be able apply it to any of your assignments. You will also be able to duplicate it and edit it to create new rubrics.


The above picture is the rubric section of a Turnitin assignment.

At the moment the feature to show which rubric is applied to an assignment is broken. If someone else has applied a rubric to a test you won’t be able to see the rubric here, you will just see the “No rubric/form” option. This does not mean that there is no rubric attached to this assignment. You will be able to see the rubric while marking a paper.

Want to know more

If you want to know more about how you use rubrics with either Turnitin assignments or Blackboard assignments please take a look at our help guides http://www.derby.ac.uk/about/learning-enhancement/learning-teaching/technology-media/helpguides/esubmissionturnitin/ or contact the TEL team at TEL@Derby.ac.uk

Digi Know: You can make your old Flash animation fit for the future

Flash animation and interaction were used heavily in educational during the 00’s but with the proliferation of mobile devices and modern browsers dropping support for flash due to security flaws, Flash .swf files are becoming obsolete.

If you have old Flash .swf files and you want to continue using them, you can by converting them to videos. Unfortunately Flash interaction will lose their interactivity, However if appropriate you can demonstrate interaction by clicking on the interaction during the recording and also you can add a voice over to explain what is happening and what you are doing. Doing this will once again make you interaction available on all modern browsers and for the first time viewable on mobile devices.

There are a number of option for recording your Flash interactions.

Camtasia, Panopto and Kalture CaptureSpaceLite are all supported by the University.

Camtasia is available to use in the Video Booth in B114 and can be booked by emailing tel@derby.ac.uk or calling 01332 591249. Camtasia will capture the flash window, any interaction audio from your Flash .SWF file and a voice over, but you will need to upload the output video file to the internet for students to access it. Camtasia also provides a comprehensive set of video editing tools.

Panopto can be used. This is available in all teaching spaces and can be downloaded onto work and home PCs. Panopto automatically upload your video so you can access it through blackboard and it will record the interaction audio and a voice over. However Panopto will only record the whole screen so if your interaction is small it will look lost in the middle of the screen. Panopto does have basic editing tools. For instruction on how to use Panopto go to http://www.derby.ac.uk/about/learning-enhancement/learning-teaching/technology-media/lecture-recording/ or the Panopto module on blackboard https://courseresources.derby.ac.uk/webapps/blackboard/content/listContentEditable.jsp?content_id=_1850222_1&course_id=_47260_1

CaptureSpaceLite is available to down load through Blackboard media gallery onto any PC. Kalture CaptureSpaceLite will capture the flash video window and a voice over but not any audio from your Flash interaction. Once you have edited it with the basic editing tools it will upload your video straight to your My Media folder in blackboard . For instruction on how to use CaptureSpaceLite Click CaptureCpace lite install record and share on courseresources.pfd.

N.B. Always make sure you have copyright clearance to reuse the flash content before you make the video.

Research Article on Virtual Reality and Occupational Therapy Published

Back in 2015 I presented a paper on a virtual reality (VR) project I have been working on with Occupational Therapy since 2009. The paper entitled “Using Unity to Create Teaching Tools, for Teaching Academically and Clinically within Occupational Therapy” and co-written with Karen Newberry (Occupational Therapy lecturer at Derby) and Kate Threapleton (Researcher at Nottingham University) was presented at the iTag conference hosted by Nottingham Trent University and held in the council house in Nottingham.

That paper has now been published in the Journal of Assistive Technologies under the title “Evaluating Unity created teaching simulations within occupational therapy”. The article can be accessed here http://www.emeraldinsight.com/doi/full/10.1108/JAT-11-2015-0030 The article is about the development of the VR software and the research done on the reaction of students to using the software. It is mainly about students’ preference for which version of the exercise they prefer but also covers issues such as motion sickness and using VR for academic assessment.

Xerte16 Conference


The Xerte16 Conference was the first official Xerte conference marking a shift from being managed by Nottingham University to being managed by the Apereo Foundation ( https://www.apereo.org/ ).  Apereo is a network of institutions that support software used in thousands of educational institutions worldwide.

The First Key note was from Ian Dolphin, the Executive Director of Apereo. The presentation was about Apereo, How Xerte fits in the group of software products that are supported by Apereo, the future of Xerte and some of the other projects that come under the umbrella of Apereo.

After the first key note the conference split in to parallel sessions. So I can only account the a third of what happened, However all the sessions were recorded and should be available online soon.

The first session I attended was about the use of Xerte for problem based learning. It reported on two case studies with medical and veterinary students, which used the nonlinear branching option within Xerte to create a branching scenarios for the diagnostic procedures of medical conditions.

The second session was about the accessibility features in Xerte and how Xerte was designed from the off set to be accessible. It showed how now Xerte is totally HTML based it can take full advantage of all the accessibility future of the browser. A very useful free Chrome extension called ClaroRead was demonstrated showing how text can be spoken out for Dyslexic and visual impaired users simply by activating the plugin and selecting the text.

The next session addressed previous complaints that Xerte was very linear and didn’t look very good. This was done by demonstrating Xerte templates which were designed to look like Articulate Storyline (A leading commercial package for creating learning objects). While this session did show how attractive Xerte can look. And demonstrated very well the nonlinear capabilities offered by some of the Xerte page types, It did seem that to accomplish this effect you had to be a developer with some experience in using Xerte and that basic users would not be able to accomplish the same results.

The Second Key Note was by Sal Cook OBE: This was about her involvement with the Xerte project from the beginning and how easy Xerte is to use.

The last two parallel session I attended were both about student use of Xerte.

One was about how they adapted Xerte online tool kits 3.1 and Moodle to be used a portfolio tool to be used with school children as summative assessment for the Welsh Baccalaureate. A pilot has been run, while there have been complaints from students about having to learn how to you a new product, it seems that the finical advantages of using Xerte out way these. They are hoping to roll this method of assessment out to over 54000 students throughout Wales.

The second use of Xerte with students was a case study from Lincoln University. This showed how first year undergraduate history students used Xerte online toolkits 2.0 to create a Xerte learning object instead of text documents for a summative assessment. Here again there were student complaints about having to learn how to use Xerte. There were also a number of complaints about problems in using Xerte online tool kits 2.0, Most of these complaints could be resolved by upgrading to Xerte online tool kits 3.1. This session ended with a discussion about the problems of getting the IT department to implement Xerte.

The conference ended with a Q and A session with the Xerte development team. The main question being “What do you want us to do next”.

My thoughts on Xerte online toolkits 3.1

Xerte has come a long way since we last used Xerte online toolkit 1.2 here at the University of Derby. Xerte can now be fully HTML based. This means that it is not reliant on flash so it can be used in all browsers for both viewing and editing. It is also now compatible with most modern mobile devices, if the content is created with mobile devices in mind. You can now even create and edit Xerte learning objects from your tablet.0

There are however still a number of issues.

One is that the basic templates that come with Xerte are not brilliant. This is an issue that has been there since the early days of Xerte and has still not been looked at. One example of this is the question types are inconsistent. Some of the drag and drop questions don’t allow you to put the answer in the wrong place others do. While developers can fix these issues and create customised templates (as we did with Xerte 2 during our initial trials of xerte) there is no guarantee that these template will work in the next version of Xerte. The same goes for content, when you upgrade Xerte there is no guarantee that existing content can be moved to the new version without having to re-input it, particularly if that content was created from a customised template. This is also an issue with some of the competitors’ products but imagine how would feel if you couldn’t open your PowerPoint 2010 presentations when you upgrade to PowerPoint 2013.

Another issue is ease of use. Allow they have improved the text editor and you no longer see the HTML code in the text editing window, you still have to fill out forms with no real idea where the text will appear until you press the play button to play the presentation and navigate to the slide you are working on.

At the conference Xerte was being compared to other learning object creation tools such as iSpring and Storyline. Xerte came out on top for cost and output quality whilst the  usability is comparable. Although Xerte is comparable to these products I feel that the Xerte online toolkits are now more comparable to WordPress, WordPress being a well-established open source web publishing product with many plugins including plugins for creating learning objects. Compared to WordPress, Xerte is a long way behind but the area where is does shine is where it started in creating small interactive learning objects for embedding in other content.

With the improvement to Xerte I no longer see any reason for not having Xerte online toolkits at the University of Derby if we are willing to use the standard templates and should there be a demand for it.

Appy Monday – Nearpod

Banner showing Digital Derby and Appy Monday: Exploring mobile apps for learning and teachingWhat is Nearpod?

Nearpod is an online tool that adds interactions and quizzes to your PowerPoint presentations. You can take your existing PowerPoint slides and import them in to Nearpod as a starting point, or you can create the whole presentation using Nearpod. When you present your slides a code is given, students then enter this code into the app on their mobile device or a web page on their laptop and they can interact with the live presentation.

What can it do?

  • Add quizzes and poles to your live PowerPoint presentations
  • Displays the results of quizzes and poles to the class
  • Give students the ability to draw on you Slides from their desks
  • Adds games to your presentations
  • Adds live web content to your presentation
  • Buy others people’s shared presentation and share your own presentations.

Download it now

You can access it on the web

Your students can access it on the web or via the mobile app on iPad, Android.

How could it be used for learning, teaching and assessment?

  • Add a quiz to your presentation to understand the level of knowledge in the classroom.
  • Add a poll to your presentation to gage student preference.
  • Add a “Draw it” to your presentation to present student input to the class.
  • Use the quiz again to gauge knowledge gained during a session.
  • Add a video slide before a break so students can watch it while they drink their coffee.

Short task:

  • Create an account for Nearpod or use your Google or Office 365 account to login.
  • Import your PowerPoint slides (Animation and slide transitions will be lost)
  • Add a quiz or a pole to your presentation
  • Publish your presentation and start a live session on your PC to get a code
  • Download the app for your mobile device and join the session with the code
  • Run your session from the PC and interact with it from you mobile device
  • When you are confident with how to use it try it with your students

Important note

Before using any mobile application or online service please check the terms and conditions to ensure you are aware of the implications of using the service. In particular, look out for items covering data security, ownership of content and public/private sharing options.

Further support

If you would like further support to get an idea of how you could use Nearpod within learning and teaching, please contact the Technology Enhanced Learning team on tel@derby.ac.uk or ext 1865.

Appy Monday – Instagram

Banner showing Digital Derby and Appy Monday: Exploring mobile apps for learning and teaching

What is Instagram?

Instagram is a photo and video sharing social network app. You can share your photos to Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Swarm and Flicker. It is available form iTunes, Google Play, with limited access online. It also has some nice simple photo editing tools and filters.

What can it do?

  • Share your photos and videos by searches through #tag, location, subject or user.
  • Search for photos by location and subject, user or #tag
  • You can follow other users
  • Edit photos with simple tools and filters
  • Upload your photos and videos to other social networks

Download it now

You can access it on the web or via the mobile app on Apple and Android.

How could it be used for learning, teaching and assessment?

  • The location tags on photos are ideal for documenting field trips
  • Share your photos and videos, is a good way for students to publicise their work and get feedback.
  • Searching for local photos is a way to get an idea of what is in an area.

Short task:

  • Create an account for Instagram or use your Facebook account to login.
  • Take a picture with the App.
  • Adjust the image
  • Apply a filter
  • Share the photo on Facebook or Twitter
  • Follow some of your friends.

Important note

Before using any mobile application or online service please check the terms and conditions to ensure you are aware of the implications of using the service. In particular, look out for items covering data security, ownership of content and public/private sharing options.

Further support

If you would like further support to get an idea of how you could use Instagram within learning and teaching, please contact the Technology Enhanced Learning team on tel@derby.ac.uk or ext 1865.