Submitting work – or why Google Classroom is not yet fit for Higher Education

Using paper it was always clear when students gave their work to their Teacher/Lecturer, it was physically handed over.  When online submission started the virtual world imitated the real one students attached their files to a submission point and when they clicked submit they could no longer change the files.

Things have moved on – both in what’s technically possible and in the kind of assessment that people are happy to attempt online.  This week I have helped a couple of people who were doing some sort of peer assessment online (one formative the other summative), this makes the transfer of control or possession of the submitted files more problematic as they need to stop being accessible to one student (group of students) and become accessible to another to mark the work.

Of course with Cloud tools you have the ability to share a piece of work so it is under the control of several people at the same time (which was a benefit for the peer group assessment) but this opens up the possibility of people editing after the submission deadline.

Now we have peer assessment tools in Blackboard, and Assignment submission tools, we have Google apps, and wiki’s (both inside and outside  the Blackboard course) so we have a wide choice of solutions.

Turns out for this kind of process the best thing is to ask at each stage who can see/edit the work and who “Owns” it.  Then you simply select the tools that provide what you want.

If you are interested – for the Group essay that is peer marked and then the marking is marked by a lecturer we planned this route.

  • Initial collaborative creation – Google Doc (owned by work group)
  • Submitted group work – downloaded to word and submitted to the Group Assignment tool on Blackboard (owned by Lecturer)
  • Peer Marking – Lecturer extract all files from the grade centre and uploads them to Lecturers Google Drive.  Shares each file with marking group with comment rights only (owned by Lecturer, marking group can see/edit)
  • Final Marking – Lecturer downloads to word the commented files and attached them as feedback to the original groups submission (optionally with additional staff marking on original script) together with their grade for doing the work.  Also attaches files to marking group in the “Peer” column together with the grade they get for doing the marking (owned by Lecturer, marking group can see, working group can see)

Why wouldn’t Google Classroom have been easier?  Well mainly because when you provide grades in Classroom the file immediately becomes editable to the original student again(the working group in my example).  So students can edit their work after they have received a grade – which is fine for some formative work but completely the opposite of the HE model of retention of summative work “here is the work exactly as you submitted it”

creative commons licensed ( BY-NC-SA ) flickr photo shared by msabba


Why I teach

For #connectedcourses we were asked to consider #whyITeach

So I had a think about it and …

Of course when looking at the details we were asked to make our video about 5 seconds long so

It is very hard to summarise but I think that I do teach because I enjoy seeing people learn

Why should people study Learning Technology?

Well not just because its shiny!

I believe that technology is such a force multiplier that its not just that we can scale a bit bigger what we were already doing, not just that we can make existing teaching a bit better and more engaging.

Technology makes possible the ideas of learning that before were impractical.  It is an opportunity to co-construct learning as what we would dream it to be.

It will be an iterative process, it will never be finished, never be perfect (and in a way that’s its beautiful strength)

For teachers and lecturers to start on this transformative path they need to be aware of what technology can do, they need to be comfortable to play around with technology, to experiment and know that its ok to (constructively) fail and to know there are people who will help when it goes wrong.

I hope that those who participate in my course, will reach that state sooner than they would alone, because after all that is what a teacher is for – to help us reach faster, further and higher

creative commons licensed ( BY-ND ) flickr photo shared by blinkingidiot

Otherwise as Cathy Davidson said (13.28 minutes in till 14.15) “If what we do can be replaced by a computer screen then maybe we should be”

Edit – it has been pointed out to me that the above statement could appear a little harsh if used by someone from a central department in a University rather than a teacher.  I do work in a central department teaching and supporting academics/teachers (I have taught students in the past and I fully intend to teach again in the future).  That wasn’t the way I intended it – it was a call to “be as good as we can be” not a “lets replace our staff with cheap videos”.

Cathy Davidson is a teacher and in her blog post on this subject discusses in intelligent detail what this challenge means – (I would recommend you read it – she says it better than I could)

Connected Courses Mooc

So I fell into doing another mooc – its a really interesting one.  Details here (if you are reading this why not sign up as well?)

and a nice introductory post by Jim Groom here

This is a very brief post so that I can link my blog into the course, I hope that the rest of my posts for this course are a bit longer and more erudite.

creative commons licensed ( BY-SA ) flickr photo shared by Cast a Line

Nuts and bolts of running a Peer Review Market

First off for those of you who just want to use it link is here.

When you take a copy it will ask if it can send emails using your account – if you want it to email students when things happen you need to say yes to this.

When you take a copy of the spreadsheet you will also get 4 Forms – you need to find a way to provide all 4 forms to your students and give them access to view the published spreadsheet (for forms File send form or File embed for spreadsheet click file, publish to web – then use the link or embed code).  I like embedding them into a webpage/vle but you can simply put up the links if you find that easier.

Alanya Market 50

You also need somewhere students can add files and get links – Google Drive is good, dropbox is another good alternative – for both if you want anonymity you will have to set it so anyone with the link can edit/upload.

Returning to the spreadsheet – there are a number of hidden sheets, you need to click view hidden sheets, “Username and Anonymous name

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Transferring grades from Blackboard your student information system – a semi automated process

Recently on one of the Blackboard mailing lists someone asked about transferring grades from Blackboard to their student information system.  Now this is something that off and on people keep asking about, there are integrations in America but in the UK none of the big student information systems have been integrated.
Thats not to say people haven’t tried a number of Uni’s have attempted it with varying success – but if anyone has totally solved it I haven’t come across them sharing their methods.  I believe Blackboard corp are even looking at making some integrations themselves but this might take some time.

Now in my last job at City of Bristol College about 6 years ago we did a lot of work moving grades around and I had something that worked well as a “Semi” automatic method.
So I thought I would show people how because with a few tweaks it could work for you.

If you dont use Blackboard the rest is probably a bit boring for you….

Einstein blackboard

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A Peer Review Market

The last month has been really busy and I realise I haven’t written a Blog post as I have had no free time in the evenings.  So I am going to share one thing I did end up creating over a couple of nights.

It was originally a work idea that got more complicated and I ended up working on it in my own time because it was fun and I wouldn’t have the time to do it in work.

So the original idea was to get students to put in drafts of their work for peer review and for other students to agree to review them and provide feedback.  One of my colleagues Dr Phil Langton came up with the idea of a “Peer Review Market”, the reason for this was he has previously done peer marking with his students and although they have generally got a lot out of it a number of them have been very unhappy with the marks counting towards their grade if the marker wasn’t always as good as they could be (any of you who have done peer marking on a MOOC will know that marking quality can vary a lot and some markers can give marks you might consider unfair…).

However with no incentive to look at peers work some people wouldn’t bother and so some wouldn’t get the benefit of having comments and feedback on their work.  The solution was a “Peer Review Market” where each student could post work for review, other students could volunteer to review it and the whole thing would run on a points system where you got marks for any reviewing you did and it cost you points to get your work reviewed.

Tomates anciennes.jpg

Tomates anciennes” by User:PopolonOwn work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

It seemed fairly straightforward, so I made a couple of google forms that fed a google sheet and told Phil who dropped into my office to discuss.  As it stood it worked but it would be easy to “game” the system, there was no option to be anonymous and hey wouldn’t it be good if it could email students when people had marked their work.

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Finishing #OcTEL and Gliddon’s Law

So we are in the last week of #OcTEL mooc and I am reflecting on what I have learnt, I started out with my “Big Question“, I looked at changing the ways I teach, the use of “Teaching Machines”, the ways people learn, making online materials and I thought about why EdTech projects fail.

So returning to my question “What could learning be – if we embrace technology?”  I think it could be different, it could be better, it could be many things including lots of things that teachers did not expect.  Though we may make models of things that work there will never be a single model much in the way that every brain is unique.

Which brings me nicely to something that the reading I have been doing and a few other things have merged together to make…

Gliddon’s Law -“The interaction of any Technology with Education is more complicated than you expect, even when you take into account Gliddon’s law”

Now I obviously owe a debt to Hofstadter’s Law and Ben Goldacre’s “I think you’ll find it’s a bit more complicated than that …“, I should also credit the work my colleagues put in by saying “But what about…” whenever I make sweeping statements about EdTech.

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