This is the sixth of seven posts written by Dr. Tibby Lynch. This post was written in May 2010. I have included it as part of my 21st century pygmalion series of posts.
The “bookkeeping” elements of teaching have been transformed by the laptop experience in some dramatic ways:
(1) “The dog ate my homework” is simply not possible; NING postings are designated by date and time – you either handed it in by the due date or you didn’t. (I did have every student create a backup file of each posting, but no one ever had to use it.)
(2) All assignments are posted online; all schedule changes are updated daily online; all student questions about homework are posted for all sections to see, and most of the time such questions are answered by fellow students before the teacher even has a chance to get to them.
(3) Rough drafts, revisions, and final drafts in progress are readily available for the teacher to comment upon. I will admit that I never became comfortable grading the online documents. The students submitted the final copies and I made hard copies to mark with my red and green Pilot pens. Sorry, but some things will never change.
(4) No piles of paper. In my classroom are two tables. Table # 1 is for my non- laptop AP English Literature class in which I have spent all year forcing the students to produce handwritten documents to prepare for the low-tech AP Exams. Table # 1 is covered with piles of paper, some listing precariously, all destined for the recycling bins. Table # 2 is for my laptop classes. Set in the middle is a laptop and to the left is a small pile of final examinations – one the few handwritten assignments (along with reading quizzes) of the year. There is probably a secure way to give exams online, but I haven’t gotten there yet.
(5) Only a few textbooks to return (or lose) at the end of the year. While Gulliver’s Travels and A Tale of Two Cities are available online, I just wasn’t ready to abandon paper for works of that length, so we used the texts.
Dr. Lynch’s final post will be a reflection about the entire process of going paperless.