Physically collecting and lugging around 3-page essays for each of your 150 students is so 2011. Join the 21st century and stop dragging around student essays. Instead, make it your goal in 2012 to have students upload or share their assignments with you electronically to help de-clutter your bag and save your back.
Most teachers already have access to some form of a digital drop box but aren’t aware of it or are too afraid to try it. Edmodo, Schoology, Blackboard, TurnItIn.Com, and Wikispaces are learning management systems that offer some sort of file collection for teachers to minimize the amount of weight teachers tend to drag around after collecting essays and are fairly easy to use. There are numerous options for tablets that allow you to ink directly on the student work, or you can always provide feedback through the “Insert Comment” feature on Microsoft Word or merely type the comments and score at the bottom of the essay. Make it your New Year’s PD resolution to get to know these features and what you already have access to.
If you aren’t interested in or do not have access to the above resources, consider using Google Documents or a web resource like DropItToMe.
Most students are already using Google Docs for group projects whether or not the teacher encourages it. Therefore, they are already familiar with the interface and navigation. They simply “share” their file with you, you can then assess the file online at any convenient point, and they are able to view their grade/comment once you have “saved” or modified the document. It is simple and easy to do; however, I’ve provided the below video, which is an excellent resource for more specific tips and strategies for using Google Docs and could easily be shared with students.
The biggest downfall to Google Docs is that students are unable to share large files. Yet, there are many online resources that provide a digital dropbox. My personal favorite is DropItToMe. This might be a little easier for students to use since it is basically “emailing” you their essay. As the teacher, you would need to download and install the drop box onto your desktop and then give your students the user name (usually something like www.dropitto.me/wheretheclassroomends) and password. The submission itself is fairly easy. Again, I’ve provided a video that walks viewers through the creation of a DropItToMe account and setting up your assignments.
The primary difference between these two is semantics: “share” versus “upload.” However, I think some teachers might feel more comfortable that the files are sent directly to the teacher without filling up an inbox to an email account.
So save your back in 2012 and stop carrying around excess paper. It isn’t efficient and the drop box is really hot this year.