Web Teaching Journal (Week 7): I Hate All Electronic Gradebooks

This is the seventh in a fifteen part, weekly journal on my experience teaching a web class. Each post explores how things are going in the current week and ideas for future revisions of the course. For my first post, see Week 1 (Why do it, My class, Moodle, Message Board Worries and Drops). For my second post, see Week 2: Failures in Communication. For my third post, see Week 3: A comedy of Errors and a Silver Lining? My fourth post is titled Week 4: Cut and Paste. The fifth is Week 5: Grooving on Good Content and the sixth is Week 6: Screencasting Burnout. To see entries posted after this one you’re reading now, you can also just pull down the categories menu on the right and select the Web Teaching Journals category.

I’m having a bad day. Every time I log on to my online class, it becomes a huge time commitment. The smallest most insignificant details take hours. Sometimes I feel like I’m not keeping up just because archiving materials, posting them and arranging them is so time intensive. I have all the pieces. Composing them is mindless, repetitive labor. But on with the subject line of this post: I hate all electronic gradebooks.

I never learned how to use the webCT gradebook very well. It just gave me a headache and I kept things real simple in terms of the structure of my assignments. My moodle gradebook is working well, but I only partially understand it. The worst thing is that I have created a set of message board assignments that need to be manually graded every week, but I have only set one message board grade category for these assignments. So I need to average things out from time to time outside of moodle and then change the single average for that grade category. I know, it’s not very smart of me, I know. The idea of having another 10 grade categories in my grade book makes me INSANE, which is the main reason I did not want a category for each separate message board assignment. And at this point I don’t want to fuss over the gradebook. What I wish I could do is go back in time and convince myself to have made the message board participation optional or for extra credit. That way, the gradebook would pretty much run itself between the automatically graded items (multiple choice quizzes) and the manually graded items (essays), of which there are not too many.

I am spending more time on this class, which I’ve taught a dozen times live, and 5 or 6 times online, than I am on a brand new graduate class I’ve never taught.

2 thoughts on “Web Teaching Journal (Week 7): I Hate All Electronic Gradebooks

  1. Grade books are always a pain. No one has hit the sweet spot to make them work great. I wish that discussion boards had grading built in to them as you read them. As the instructor, you see a drop down next to each post. You set how much each post is worth in the admin. Then as you read the post, and you decide “well, that post earned 4 out of 5 possible points” – you enter it right there and be done with it. The system could add it all u, weight it, and be done with it.

    I use Google docs myself – not the best solution, but it works. I create a spreadsheet with a column for each discussion and response. If students do what they are supposed to – 1 point in that column. If not – 0 points. Then I put a formula in the last column that adds all of them up and multiples by whatever number is needed to get 100. If a students doesn’t earn points, I will comment on the forum and tell them they need to do better. Not the most elegant solution, but no student complaints yet.

  2. Hmm… so you set google docs so that the students can see the gradebook?

    I really liked using google docs for online surveys, but never thought about this application.

    You may regret your comment, as I may have to come after you at some point to set one of these google docs up for a future web class.

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