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Paper Pumpkin - Moving marking online, the uphill battle

Community Contributor
6 2 821

As we all know, traditionally the marking of assignments has been on paper. At the beginning of the computer age when students wrote their assignments electronically, some teachers would take and mark electronic copies of their students work. This largely continued on with tracked changes in word documents and the like. With Canvas and other tools such as Turnitin teachers can receive all their assignments digitally and mark them online, and in the process reduce the amount of paper flying around, the clutter it causes in offices, and the hassle of the handing in/returning the paper assignments. Sounds great doesn't it?

In theory, it is great. In practice, people have been slower at adopting it than would be expected (hoped). One of the main complaints is that screens are harder to read than paper. Also, people like to mark in places without internet and scribble all over their students work. With increasingly common access to cheap readable touch-screens, and the increasing number of places with wifi, a lot of these issues are disappearing. Speedgrader is a great tool for this, as is Turnitin's grademark. The two are very similar, with the exception that Speedgrader does not generate an originality report or talk to Turnitin well, which has resulted in our staff who want to mark online and use Turnitin choose to just use Turnitin in lieu of Speedgrader. What is seen is that once people move to online marking, they don't usually move back.

Maybe it is a generational thing that results in some people being open to online marking more than others, however there are always exceptions which cause doubt on this hypothesis. What is seen is that as more people mark only electronically, their colleagues follow suit as the stigma or fear of it is removed by example. Maybe in a few years time we won't need a physical place for students to hand in assignments, and on that day we will all reclaim some of our office-space.