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March 19, 2009
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In response to an InsideHigherEd article about the 4C’s composition convention in San Francisco where TII was being debated, I threw out the challenge for TII to contact me.  I have lots of ideas on how they could be doing things better (which assumes that they are doing lots wrong).

Well, Katie Povejsil, “Tii’s marketing person,” answered back saying she would:

love to hear your ideas about how to better educate the professorate about effective instructional uses of Tii. In that vein, have you checked out our new WriteCycle Academy webinars? These totally FREE professional development seminars are given once a week.

Well, I heeded your call and I went to the URL for WriteCycle Academy, located further in your comment.  Here is what I found:

  • WriteCycle Academy is a web-page dedicated to supporting/advertizing TII’s suite of grading/class management offerings.  In addition to TII’s anti-plagiarism “Originality Reports,” TII also offers a means of grading online, which include online in-paper feedback with pre-determined text with the possibility of using pre-defined rubrics.  If that sounds a little vauge or techi, I can explain further.
  • WriteCycle Academy, though, leaves a lot to be desired, from an instructor’s point of view.  The page offers the Instructor-now-student the option of listening to past seminars or to sign-up for upcoming ones.  This sounds interesting in the abstract, but no faculty will show.
  • Faculty do not like meetings.  Ask them.  Send out a notice, and only begrudging will they show…they have lectures and papers and papers and papers.  Listining to an hour long recording of a past seminar isn’t going to fly very well.  Especially since that seminar requires them to ramp-up on a new web-inar interface (a plug-in that allows users to meet over the web)
  • So, the only offering available, at this time, in the WriteCycle Academy are meetings from the past, recorded, and presented in some pretty techie mediums.  I can understand that the first seminar had only 8 people, and that 6 of those were TII employees.  It didn’t help that the first 20 minutes of the first seminar didn’t include any new content–in fact, it included about 10 minutes of dead air…not friendly to the recorded audience at all

But that was one product offering, WriteAcademy.  What about TII’s other support/training interfaces?

Buried in a page describing the various components of the WriteCycle Suite is this nugget:

Training & Support

Our team of highly trained Product Specialists is available to help you implement Turnitin WriteCycle, train you to use it most effectively at your institution, and support you and your faculty for the duration of your license. This type of support is critical to the successful adoption and integration of Turnitin. We also provide numerous support tools and resources including: free daily training webinars; downloadable, PDF-based QuickStart guides and user manuals; instantly available web-based training videos; live support through phone and e-mail, and; a comprehensive, searchable knowledge base. Customized, face-to-face training sessions can also be arranged for your site.

It wasn’t until I stumbled upon the Training Center did I get any direct instruction on the use of the product(s).  Then  got some nice Captivate videos, which are, on the whole, fairly good.

Now, in summation, TII has a good start.  I like the base product (Originality Report).  I do not like the Suite.  I do not think they are targeting their core audience well, nor are they supporting that audience in a manner in which the audience will seek out nor respond.

For anything further, you will have to pay me.  In my real life, I am an instructional designer, which, in this case, I also know the audience really well.

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