The "paperless" world of electronically submitted assessments/homework is truly a gift for those of us who struggle to keep tabs on the zillion+ sheets of paper we collect each year.
Yet, the tradeoff is having to develop a new system for management of our digitally collected student work. For many educators initially encountering Google Drive, or other collection tools for electronically submitted work, you may have this overwhelming feeling that your digital work environment is no more functional than a cluttered work space in the physical world.
Ready yourself for the good news! By adopting a few simple strategies, and by training your students to use those strategies religiously, you can regain your own sanity and become far more efficient in collecting and providing feedback on digital assessments.
Developing a Consistent Naming Convention
For many teachers, the process of paper collection has become a carefully crafted venture, At the very least, most teachers have a protocol for students when it comes to turning in physical papers. Name on the upper right of the page. Hour, period, and/or date just below that. Top left margin has assignment name. For many teachers, a similar naming/identification process has become the only way to keep tabs (and our sanity) on the flood of paperwork we consume regularly.
The movement to a digital collection platform will not shirk the need for a digital naming/identification equivalent. In fact, without identifying some sort consistent convention, and then STICKING TO IT, you may not be able to take advantage of some of the other niceties of digital collection (automatic time-stamping when assignments are collected, search and sort functions to easily find text within specific documents, and more).
The most beneficial naming convention in a digital platform is one that places the critical data in immediate view of the teacher without having to open the file/document to find the data. Generally this is done best in the document's name.
One example of a properly named document might be:
|An example of a Google Drive folder when students have used a|
a standard file naming convention to submit work.
- The teacher is "under the gun" to provide prompt responses, so he/she is constantly opening files to see the status of the work (many kids will submit the work to you before it is done...we'll talk about that as well in a follow-up post). Much of that work is incomplete, leading to teacher frustration, and/or wasted teacher time. In this scenario, we've lost all of the efficiency of a digital turn-in system.
- Response time to student work is dramatically hampered because the teacher sets an arbitrary date for "review and response" to maintain sanity. As a result, students fall into the same old habits of waiting until the last minute to complete work. We've now lost momentum and enthusiasm for a more personalized, fluid turn-in system. This system is truly no different than a system where students turn in work physically on the due date and await the teacher response.
- Draft: This meant that the student had not completed the work and was not awaiting my feedback as an instructor. For me, this meant that I did not need to open that document and offer feedback at this time, unless the student communicated with me personally and asked for assistance.
- Final: This meant that the student had "completed" the work and was awaiting my feedback. As soon as I saw "Final" in the title, I opened that document and began to comment and assess. I did this even BEFORE official due dates, as the student was indicating he/she had submitted his/her best work at that time.
- Graded: I renamed the file "Graded" when I was finished offering feedback to the student. It was an indication to the student that there was some level of feedback in the document for the student. Even if I was sending them back to complete another draft with revisions, I indicated graded. When the student switched the work back to "Draft," I knew that the student had accepted my comments and was going to try again. Other students accepted the grade that I offered and elected not to revise, leaving the code "Graded."
As always, you will have to flex for some students. Be aware that some students are having their own struggles adapting organizational strategies to a digital world. The most important factor in all of our work is student learning -- a rule or naming convention should never get in the way of a student demonstrating what they have learned. Flex when you need to. Getting 95% of the students on board with your system will make managing the unique cases more palatable.