Thursday, January 18, 2007

Engrade - A Wonderful Teacher's Tool

Engrade - - is a wonderful teacher's tool. If you want to share marks with individual students privately online, and aren't on a Learning Management System like Desire2Learn, Moodle, or BlackBoard/WebCT, Engrade is just what you need. With Engrade you can post your students' marks, and they can use the password you assign individually to see their marks. Plus you can then download your class records into an Excel worksheet and save them there.

It's free and straightforward. You set up a class, add the students' names, and give them their own individual password, (I did that by email). When you've finished marking an assignment, you add the marks to Engrade and make them accessible.

I used it with my 3rd year university students last term and it worked just fine. They checked their marks, I got some emailed queries, but I simply answered those, and found it far smoother than discussions about marks in class. Some after-class conversations still happened, but most students were happy with the system - if not the marks ;->

The best thing was that they had adjusted to their marks before they got their assignment or assignment comments back, and, when they got them back, could focus more on my feedback and less on the mark.

Friday, January 12, 2007

SlideShare on Blogging

I've mentioned SlideShare, the YouTube for presentations, before -  I like to browse it sometimes  and just read what I find. Dr. Steven Warburton has put up an interesting set of slides on student blogging - - I recommend it, and using the full screen mode.

I found it quite interesting, a bit different from mine.

I used an Elgg Community Blog which gave my students some control over how public, or not, their post was, set topics, often based on current readings, and required they write in it for a portion of their marks. Oral Rhetoric was classroom based, but the frequent writing paired with personal icons, either their photos or a chosen image, created a kind of threading in which we could, with a quick glance, see who the writer was.

The setting of weekly questions scaffolded the students in learning how to use a blog, which many, if not most, were uncomfortable with, especially using it for an educational purpose. As I believe they will sometimes be using blogs for professional purposes in their futures, I wanted them to begin to understand that there are different genres of blogs, and different rhetorical approaches - which I've explored here,

I wrote up my opinion of blogs used as part of a learning / teaching strategy -  - I believe that that blogs can be used in many ways, and that they are especially important in creating learning communities.

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Thursday, January 11, 2007

Switching Platforms? From Mac to Windows

Kathy Sierra, in a post in Creating Passionate Users links this video her daughter Skyler made about switching from a Mac to Windows. Enjoy!!!

Courtesy of Donna Papacosta