About a month ago I posted this article on how I was fed up with all the paper my stats class generates, both in terms of assignments that I have to carry home and in terms of papers I was carrying to class to keep my lectures straight.  I’ve made some progress and wanted to share what I have learned so far.

  1. Lecture Notes:  I am now downloading my slides to my ipad and converting them into keynote.  The good is that this process is painless.  The bad is that keynote only shows the slide and the lecture notes on the same screen if you are using it to project.  The room is able to accommodate that, so I bought a $29.00 VGA adapter and will now use the ipad to project.
  2. In-class Problems: After further consideration, I am putting the in-class problems into Blackboard.  Students will enter the answers before they leave each class.  I will then go over the problem at the beginning of the NEXT class so that they can go through their work and figure out what went wrong. 
  3. Papers:  Our blackboard is integrated with SafeAssign, Blackboard’s answer to TurnItIn.  Students will be turning their papers in using that tool, then the tool reviews them for plagiarism.  I am then going to attempt to implement a grading program* to help make it all faster.  I’ve found several so far, many of which are for word 2003 or earlier.  The ones that aren’t so far are:
    1. Annotate for Word – There is a free version I am testing, although already looking at it I am leaning toward buying it. $45
    2. eMarking Assistant – also a Word plug-in. Less expensive at $20, but only a 30 day trial.  The demo made it look far less intuitive.
    3. Essay Grader – slightly different idea – this one records your comments and creates a separate document.  Not really what I wanted.
  4. Labs: I am going to go with putting the answer fields into blackboard.  By creating those forms I am able to grade those efforts online.
  5. Homework: Already online.
  6. Tests: Right now these will be the only paper items.  They need to show their work, and I have yet to find a tool that can make that work.
  7. Articles:  The students have to turn in the articles they are using for their papers in advance.  (I have had all too many of them over the years call me the night before the paper was due because they couldn’t find what they were looking for.  It makes me angry.)  This item counts as homework and consists of a media article (something from the paper or an online source – they almost always go online) as well as the research study that goes with it.  My current thought is that I could have them put in the LINK to the media article and upload the study or have them print the media article to a PDF and upload both.  Undecided right now.

If you are keeping count, that is $74 out of pocket (plus the cost of the ipad, of course, but I bought that for other reasons).  I will, of course, be taking that as a deduction on my taxes this year.

Thoughts?  Comments?  Pointers to other software that might help me grade better?