Good for more than just writing assignments!
Overall, Turnitin is great for making my written assignments more efficient to collect, score, and give comments on. It takes the areas of writing feedback that can be automated (conventions and originality) and automates them, leaving me more time to focus on helping students improve their skills and content knowledge. It's also an excellent tool for distributing papers for peer review or collecting any assignment that can be created digitally. I appreciate the ongoing efforts at Turnitin to update their tool to integrate with Google Drive and other content-creation tools, and I hope that this service will only get better as time goes on.
The weaknesses in this tool are related to communication. It's not really set up to gibe assignment directions to students, so I wind up posting those elsewhere, which just adds an extra step for students. While it does send a confirmation email to students to let them know their work has been successfully uploaded, there's no equivalent email to let them know that their work has been viewed, scored, or responded to by peers or teachers. Students also have to remember to log in to check my feedback, and there's no function to send the feedback to them via email, so I have to announce that separately as well. Ideally, I would like to see some automation in communicating feedback to students to keep the write-feedback-revise cycle moving along more efficiently.
How I Use It
In my classes, I do need to check student work for originality (and teach appropriate paraphrasing and citations), so Turnitin's originality checker is invaluable for that purpose. But my favorite things about Turnitin are the tools available to teachers for giving feedback. I've used rubrics and quickmarks to give short specific feedback, the feedback summary box for writing more general responses, and even the voice recording when I want students to hear my tone as I give them recommendations and encouragement. I'm able to get scores and feedback to students more quickly and in a variety of ways to help give the most useful feedback for a particular assignment or a particular student.
The PeerMark feature allows students to read each other's work (either anonymously or not) and respond with specific comments or answers to questions I created for them, which speeds up peer review assignments a lot. My students all type faster than they hand write, and I can be sure that everyone has something to work on by setting up the assignment through Turnitin.
I've used Turnitin for non-written assignments as well, and I really appreciate the flexibility in the service to upload images, audio, or even short video clips in addition to written work. Students occasionally find it challenging to upload creative projects due to file sizes, so we have to work around that limitation, but it generally works well for individual images or short audio/video files.