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Paper Pumpkin: The Under 10 Club.

Community Team
Community Team
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My school had the luxury of a gradual transition to Canvas. Over an 18-month period, a small team of instructional designers and one contractor (me) met with professors to redesign and reformat their courses to bring them over to the new learning platform. Since I taught humanities and philosophy courses, I primarily worked with professors who teach English, history, and of course humanities courses: writing-intensive courses. The first few semesters of transitioning consisted of migrating those courses that were already conducted fully online.

That was the easy part. We were now faced with helping those professors who primarily taught face-to-face to consider adopting some aspects of Canvas. One of my roles during this part of the transition was to meet with groups of these professors to obtain their buy-in.

I decided to showcase SpeedGrader, Turnitin/GradeMark, and Crocodoc's annotation tools. I traveled around our campuses to show professors of brick-and-mortar writing-intensive courses how they could leverage Canvas tools and integrations to simplify and streamline the grading and revision process for themselves and for their students.

At this point in the story, you should know that all of my experience in teaching college-level courses has been online. Having never stood before a lecture hall of college students, and having never used a pen to mark comments on an actual piece of paper, I embrace a mindset of saving trees, eschewing print cartridges, and indeed, happily allowing the printer sitting in the corner of my office to gather copious amounts of dust. I even made a game of keeping a mental count in my head of how many pieces of paper I had to print over the course of a semester, with the goal of keeping that number in single digits (and even that entirely due to administrative stuff like contracts and withdrawal forms): the "Under 10 Club," if you will. So when these professors asked me what was--for them--an obvious question, it took me a moment to think it through:

If we use SpeedGrader to mark up papers, can our students print their annotated papers to bring them to the Writing Center for review and revision?

I confess I hadn't given that any thought, and indeed, at that time, I didn't even know the answer. But what flashed through my head was the memory of my own professors complying with FERPA by laboriously placing every single student's graded and annotated paper in a separate envelope, writing the student's name across the front, and sealing the envelope to leave them for pickup. The old days, I thought, at the same time realizing that what for me were "the old days" were "these days" for the professors sitting before me--and "today," for many more even now.

I can be fast on my feet when I need to be.

"They don't have to! Save trees," I quickly replied. "Students can pull up their courses from anywhere where they have access to a computer and an internet connection. So once you've annotated your students' papers (and please, let's start calling them 'Essays' or 'Submissions,' since I hope you will agree that the term 'papers' is increasingly becoming anachronistic), they can go to the Writing Center and pull up their Canvas course. They can sit side-by-side with a tutor and look at the annotations together. Your students can launch the essay in a separate window so they can work on corrections to their draft. They can resubmit the revised assignment on the spot. Or, they can go home or to the library to continue to work on it, or they can pull it up at Starbucks. Wherever they are, they can continue to work on their assignments, and they never have to hit a 'Print' button again.

"And neither do you."

After the first meeting I learned that yes, of course, students can print their Crocodoc- or GradeMark-annotated assignments. But they don't have to! I hope that hundreds of instructors and students joined my Under 10 Club during our transition to Canvas and are no longer plowing through thousands of reams of paper.

Has your transition to Canvas allowed you to join the Under 10 Club?