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Thursday, May 24, 2012

Tech tool bleg

Beggars Banquet
On Tuesday, I got to spend the day learning about various aspects of assessment, at SDSU's One Day in May symposium.  So much good stuff! Although I think of myself as relatively savvy about a lot of tools, and a definite data junky, I got lots of ideas about things I could be doing to track analytics in Blackboard and Google Docs. I haven't been a huge Google Docs user so I had no clue that there are so many cool things you can do with spreadsheet gadgets (like create word clouds or interactive timelines, a la Gapminder).

The day got me thinking about how I could use certain tools and I started looking for new ways to deal with one of my most time-consuming tasks. I have a couple different situations where I collect information from students that I want to pass on to other students (e.g., team peer evaluations in the data class or reviewer back evaluations in the writing class). Currently, the way I do that is either through emailing each student or putting the information in the 'comment' field for an assignment in Blackboard. Either way, there's a whole lot of cutting and pasting going on. Blackboard is supposed to have a way to batch upload comments for gradebook items (according to this link) but I can't get it to work. Even if I could, it's less than ideal for really long 'comments' (I think there's a 1000 character limit). I feel like I read something somewhere about a way to allow students to see just part of a spreadsheet in Google Docs but I can't find anything about that when I search. I could make a separate Google Doc for each student and just 'share' it with that one student but a) that doesn't seem like it would really save me any time and b) I prefer not to make students create new accounts if I can help it (although I know most already have Google accounts, if they don't, they'd have to create one to access a private Google Doc). Ideally, I'm thinking of something where I could have a spreadsheet with student identifiers in one column and their comments in another column and students could submit their identifier and see the comments in the associated row.

Rather than bugging just a few people, I thought I'd bug a lot of people and throw it out to you all. Does anyone know of a way to do this?

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