Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Still Don't Get Social Bookmarking?

Try watching this short tutorial by called Social Bookmarking in Plain English. It is a very simplistic explanation of bookmarking using written for the non-techie crowd. CommonCraft says:

We made this video because we want others to feel the power of social bookmarking and how it works to make web pages easier to remember, organize and share. This video is focused on, but you could also try social bookmarking sites like Magnolia or Furl.

If you can't see the video, click here:

Friday, August 03, 2007

Grading Papers the Electronic Way

I began teaching a paperless ENG101 course about two years ago. My students when I first tell them that they've enrolled in a paperless class, most are elated by my announcement. Of course, they are thinking paperless means no writing essays. Well, you know I don't mean that. Paperless means we don't exchanges papers printed out on paper in this class. Everything is electronic.

I've been teaching for 17 years, and I've got my share of essay grading stories, but the one that relates best to this post is the time a stack of student essays flew out the back of my truck bed. I used to carry a stack of papers to grade everywhere with me, even to the bar for happy hour. I would use every spare moment I had to grade those papers. And I always had a huge stack. When I was younger I had a Toyota pick-up with a bench seat. I could get three people in there comfortably if there was nothing else in the cab, hence the need to put my "stuff" in the bed of the truck. Well, some things shifted around when I turned a corner, and out flew a stack of essays into the street. I quickly stopped and gathered all the escaped essays, but not before they got a few tire marks.

I'm glad to say those essay toting days are over. Now all my students' essays are either in Blackboard or Google Docs waiting for me to grade them. It was a slow transition to get to the point where I could grade the essays on the computer without printing them out though. And slow for an English teacher can be agonizing for both the teacher and the students, so I had to find a way to simplify the grading process. What I came up with was using macros in MS Word to create a grading toolbar. The following screencast shows you how to create macros and use the grading toolbar in MS Word.

Screencast created using Jing: