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Grading and feedback with the Turnitin iPad app and QMplus

14 November 2013 Posted in: Articles, News Tagged: , , , , , By: Gill Ritchie

Many staff at the College make use of the Turnitin plagiarism detection software. This tool is easily accessed through QMplus, where online assignments can be linked to the Turnitin service.  Students submit their assignments on QMplus and they are automatically sent to Turnitin to be checked.

A feature of Turnitin which has been available for some time is the GradeMark online marking tool which allows staff to leave comments directly on student submissions which students can then access online.  GradeMark features include:

  • Drag and drop standard comments directly onto assignments (you can build your own library of commonly used comments)
  • Enter free text comments anywhere on the assignment as well as text feedback on the assignment as a whole
  • Record a voice comment
  • Mark using a custom rubric

Previously, the GradeMark tool could only be accessed using a web browser and required the grader to be online while they marked.  Earlier this year, however, Turnitin released an app for the iPad which allows users to access the online marking features of GradeMark with the added bonus of allowing for offline marking.  You can download your student assignments onto your iPad and then mark them wherever you go without having to be online.  When you are connected again, the app will upload all your feedback and grades.

Unfortunately, the standard integration between QMplus assignments and Turnitin does not allow grades entered through GradeMark to be passed back to QMplus. At the beginning of the academic year we made a new “Turnitin Assignment” type available on QMplus.  This assignment type allows more comprehensive access to the features of Turnitin, in particular, allowing the marks entered through the GradeMark tool on Turnitin to be passed back to QMplus. It also provides other useful features such as providing email receipts to students on submission and allowing staff to upload work on behalf of students which are also not available through the standard QMplus/Turnitin integration.

Making use of the app

  1. Create a Turnitin assignment on QMplus (or have access to one that’s been created already) – This needs to be an assignment of the “Turnitin assignment” type rather than an “Advanced uploading of files” assignment which has been linked to Turnitin.
  2. Set up the app on your iPad – there will have to have been at least one submission for your assignment before you can set up the app and you will have to generate a class access course from Turnitin.
  3. Download your assignments and start marking

User guides on how to do steps 1 and 2 are available in the How to guides for staff area on QMplus. They are called “Setting up a Turnitin assignment” and “Setting up the Turnitin iPad app”.

Things to be aware of

It is quite easy to get going with the app but there are a number of things that you should bear in mind.


Update January 2014: An update to the app released towards the end of 2013 means that you now have to enter a code to access the Turnitin app.

Although you generate a unique access code to link to your assignment when you first set it up, that code is then remembered by the app and you don’t have to enter it again. Anyone who has access to your iPad can access your students’ work and can potentially make changes to grades and feedback through the app.  Keep things secure by having a passcode on your iPad and ensuring you unlink your iPad from Turnitin when you have finished, and uploaded, your marking. If you wish to link to the assignment again, you will have to generate another access code.

Synchronising data

Synchronising data refers to the transfer of data between your iPad and Turnitin. If you have been grading offline, make sure your grades and comments are uploaded when you are back online again and especially before you unlink your iPad from Turnitin. Synching as often as you can is a good idea as this will also guard against your work being lost anything untoward happens to your iPad.

Data usage

Downloading assignments onto your iPad can involve the transfer of large amounts of data, especially if you have large classes. Depending on your circumstances you may have to be careful about your data usage and only synch data when you have a suitable wifi connection. Also, allow some time and don’t attempt to download an entire class worth of assignments moments before running out the door to catch a train.

Multiple markers

The app is not designed for multiple markers. If there is more than one person marking the assignment there is a very high chance of overwriting each other’s work.

Other questions

Other things that you may be thinking when reading this.

I don’t have an iPad what can I do?

Unfortunately, the app is currently only available for the iPad.  Turnitin may look at other platforms in the future but there is currently nothing in the pipeline.  The offline grading feature is also only available on the iPad app. There is no way to be able to download assignments to your laptop or desktop computer for offline grading.

Can I use the Turnitin assignment on QMplus without using the app?

Yes.  The Turnitin assignment on QMplus can be used without the app and still provides some useful features over the standard Turnitin integration, you can use GradeMark through the standard web interface, students will receive email receipts and you can submit assignments on behalf of students.

Can I use GradeMark without the app?

Yes. If you like the sound of GradeMark but can’t or don’t want to use the app you can access it using a standard web browser.  This does, however, require that you are connected to the internet while you are grading. There is no offline grading option.  You will also have to use the Turnitin assignment type on QMplus if you want the grades to be passed back to QMplus.

Can I use GradeMark without checking for plagiarism?

Not if you are using Turnitin through QMplus. Currently student submissions are all sent to be checked for plagiarism. You can ignore the results of the plagiarism check, hide them from students and ensure that submissions aren’t sent to the Turnitin repository. Oddly, it is possible to set up an assignment on Turnitin which does not generate an originality report but this setting is not available through the integration with QMplus.

I don’t use QMplus, what can I do?

If you don’t want to use QMplus, you can still make use of both Turnitin and the app.  However, as the majority of the College is now using QMplus, we focus our support on using Turnitin through the online learning environment and our recommendation would be that you use it that way if possible.

If you want to know more about using it without using QMplus, please get in touch with the E-Learning Unit on

Next steps

If you would like to try out the app before using it with a live class there are two options:

  1. Have a play with the tutorial provided by the app itself. You’ll find this on the home page of the app. This is quite limited but will give you a feel for how the app works.
  2. Get in touch with the E-Learning Unit on and we can give you access to a demonstration assignment which will allow you to try out working with a “real” QMplus assignment

Turnitin provide very good documentation on their web site:

If you are already making use of the app, we’d really like to hear how you’ve been getting on with it. Drop us an email on, or join our QMplus Practitioner group on Mahara and share your experiences directly with other staff in the College.

Image Credit

Henri Bergius on Flickr.

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