Using Safe Assign

This document describes how instructors and teachers' assistants can use the Safe Assign system to receive papers from students and check for plagiarism.

You can create an assignment link in any of the Content Areas of your class (the area named "Assignments" might be the best place). For more on organizing and managing content, see documentation on Managing the Course Menu.

Assignments vs. SafeAssign

Both features allow you to accept documents online (e.g. student papers, projects). The Assignments feature is older, and currently more stable. Blackboard added the SafeAssign feature during the summer of 2007, and it seems to work really well except for a small number of students (students with non-standard browsers, or who use the newest version of Microsoft Word). See documentation on Assignments.

There are two ways for instructors to use SafeAssign. You may create a SafeAssign Assignment, which links to the course gradebook and allows students to upload their own papers. Or you can use the Direct Submit feature - you collect the papers electronically through some other means, then upload them all to the system to be checked for plagiarism.

Add a SafeAssign Assignment

Go to a content area (through Control Panel, or by clicking Edit View within a folder). Along the top bar, select SafeAssign, then click Go:

db choose safeassign

Next, choose a name and the number of points possible:

sa Enter Info

You can choose Draft if students will later be submitting a revised version of the same paper. This prevents their second paper from being flagged as plagiarized. You can choose Student Viewable if you want students to be able to see the SafeAssign plagiarism report.

For your convenience, section 2 provides a form for creating a class announcement. This is the same as using the "Announcements" feature in the Control Panel.

Students Submit Assignment

Next, you wait for students to submit their assignments. You can refer them to "Submitting Assignments on Blackboard". Basically, they click on the View/Complete link and upload their document:

sa click view complete

Students can only complete the assignment once. After they submit the assignment, they can click on the link to view the grade and any response that you may have posted.

If a student needs to re-submit an assignment, an instructor or teachers' assistant.will need to go to the assignment and click the Clear Attempt button so they can try again.

Using Direct Submit

Another way to add papers to the SafeAssign system is for the instructor to collect all the papers through some other means (by email, or through the regular Assignments feature on Blackboard), then upload them using "Direct Submit".

To use Direct Submit, go to the Control Panel, look in the Course Tools section for SafeAssign, and click that link. Next, choose the Direct Submit tab:

sa click direct submit

On the next screen, you can choose the "Private" or the "Shared" tab. Papers submitted to the Private section are only visible to the person to who submitted them. Papers submitted to the Shared section are visible to the other instructors or teachers' assistants associated with this course. In either case, SafeAssign will keep the submitted papers in a database for later comparison for all classes.

You can add new folders and subfolders if you want to keep things organized by assignment or category - just type in the name of the new folder, and click "Add":

sa new folder

Once you've chosen which tab and which folder to upload to, click the Submit Papers link. You will have several options, but you can only upload one file at a time:

sa paper submission

SafeAssign keeps all past papers in an "Institutional Search Database", which it will use for comparison with future submitted papers from all classes at the same school. Under Section 2, you have the option of either uploading a file from your computer, or doing copy/paste to submit just the text of the paper directly.

Notice that SafeAssign does not yet accept submissions in Office 2007's new .docx format. (If you have a paper in this format, open it up, do Save As... and save it in RTF format.)

If you want to submit a bunch of papers at once, first create a ZIP file on your computer (also called a "compressed folder" or "archive file") with all of the papers in it. Then upload that one ZIP file.

After you submit files, or after your students have submitted their own files, the SafeAssign system will take some time (15 minutes, or several hours) to perform the plagiarism checking.

Reading SafeAssign Reports

To read the SafeAssign Reports, go to the Control Panel, then click SafeAssign in the Course Tools section. Choose the assignment, or find the folder withing Direct Submit where you uploaded the files. You should see a list of papers, along with a percentage showing how much of the paper matched other sources (internet sources or other papers). To investigate a particular paper, click on the little green checkmark:

sa click green check

SafeAssign will show you a report, comparing the paper to other sources. Remember that this is just a starting point - you will need to investigate more carefully to determine if the student sinned.

Back to Blackboard Overview.