Another dot in the blogosphere?

Feedback with Turnitin and JoeZoo

Posted on: September 28, 2016

One of my favourite tools for written feedback is Turnitin’s document viewer.

The name viewer is a misnomer since the tool also allows an evaluator to annotate digital documents.

Turnitin's assignment viewer and markup tool.

The screenshot above is of the side bar of the tool and this is what makes it useful and powerful. (I pixellated some of the customised content to respect the work of others and left one of my examples plain to see.)

As a lone evaluator, I can add frequently-used comments to the side bar. When I notice something in an essay that triggers concern, I highlight some text in the essay and click on a button that represents that comment.

For example, I might find that someone has a misplaced trust in “learning styles”. I highlight those words in the online document and click on my “learning styles” button. My entire comment (text in bottom window) is added to the document as feedback in a speech bubble.

Users who receive feedback do not need to install anything or have a browser extension. They revisit their graded work and hover a cursor over the speech bubbles in order to read the feedback.

Even better than this convenience is another affordance: When evaluating as a group, each member can add their own comments which other evaluators can see and use. The tool becomes a pool of distilled wisdoms in the form of critical feedback.

Unfortunately, this tool is limited to educational institutions that pay for the service and add-on. I had long wished for a similar tool that was more open and preferably free. I might have found something close in the form of JoeZoo.

JoeZoo is a Chrome extension and I have yet to explore it fully. It promises the efficiency of reusing comments, but it does not seem to pool shared wisdoms.

However, JoeZoo seems more visually-appealing than Turnitin and offers useful options like feedback categories, rubrics, and grading scales.

Like Turnitin, students receiving feedback on their work do not need to install anything on their computing systems to view the feedback.

If you are like me and security conscious, you might block third-party cookies from your browser. If you do this, JoeZoo will not work. To get around this issue, you will need to create this cookie exception: [*.]

My ideal feedback and grading tool would be a hybrid of these two tools.

  • Very simple to use like Turnitin’s side bar
  • Visually appealing for teachers and student like JoeZoo
  • Shared or pooled comments like Turnitin
  • Free and open like JoeZoo

Disclosure: I have not been paid or otherwise compensated for mentioning Turnitin or JoeZoo.

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