Future of Moodle Turnitin plugins

Ever since Moodle 1.5 I’ve enjoyed developing the Turnitin integration which has resulted in the new Plagiarism API in Moodle 2 – now we have plugins for Urkund, Crot, Moss and hopefully more to come!

I started developing the Turntin integration while working for Lincoln University and playing with the Turnitin basic assignment type developed by Turnitin which didn’t really suit our requirements. Since then a company called nLearning (now part of Turnitin) developed a 3rd plugin called “Moodle Direct” – so there are now 3 different ways of connecting Moodle to Turnitin.

Independently developing the Turnitin plugin has presented a range of challenges – including:

  •  Keeping in touch with new features/improvements to Turnitin services and implementing them in my plugin.
  • Providing support to people who have downloaded the plugin and have a contract with Turnitin but no support contract with me – I’ve spent a lot of volunteer time helping via e-mail/forum support but this can be quite time-consuming. It can also be confusing for people using the plugins – not knowing who to contact related to a problem.
  • Diagnosing issues can prove difficult – is there an issue with the code/Turnitin (Kudos to the Turnitin Devs who have provided a lot of support directly to me while developing/improving the plugin)
  • Enabling my plugin can be a convoluted process, emails to Turnitin, extra configuration required…

Where am I going with this you ask? – Turnitin are working directly with me to “merge” their “Turnitin Direct” plugin with my plagiarism plugin for Moodle 2.x – this will bring a range of very good benefits.

  • Single support base – support for the plugins will come direct from Turnitin for all plugins making it much easier to access support.
  • Larger feature-set available – my focus has been on the originality checking feature – Turnitin provides a range of other features which will be implemented and supported in both plugins.
  • Moodle admins will be able to choose between using the plagiarism plugin which uses the existing assignment types or to use a separate “turnitin” module.
  • The new plugin will be backwards compatible with data stored from my version. (planning to use the same tables)
  • The new plugin will sync grades entered via Grademark with Moodle.
  • The new plugin will support the existing featureset (and more).

Obviously there will be some form of changeover period where I will continue some level of support for the existing plugin but sites will be migrating to the newer version provided directly from Turnitin – Turnitin are hoping to provide the new code in a git repo and allow others to contribute patches back (I know I’ll probably be submitting a few in the long term)

This is all very new and there isn’t a specific time frame in place to have this completed except to say that you should keep an eye out for the initial code release in the upcoming months.

Thanks to everyone who has tested/provided feedback/provided patches/provided funding for the plugin – it’s been a cool project to be involved with. Now that the core plugin will be supported directly from Turnitin I may finally have time to implement the plagiarism api into other areas of the Moodle codebase like forum posts, workshop mod, Essay quiz questions etc – or maybe I’ll just waste away more time on SCORM… :-)

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