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Essaytagger Manuals

Thanks to Keith for that great introduction a few weeks back. Truth be told, my involvement here started over the dinner table and I managed to successfully insert myself in the business. I guess that negotiations class in b-school did come in handy!

All joking aside, this project hits two of my passions: education and technology. Education because - well, who doesn't care about education? I was blessed with a great education with some wonderful teachers back in my time, and I've always wanted to give back to improve the quality of education and teacher's lives. And technology because that's always been my interest from the first day I laid fingers on an Apple IIe back in grade school. My career to date has been on the business software side of things, so I'm looking forward to doing something really amazing to help people (and not just some organization's bottom line).

I'll be posting occasionally about education, the business as well as my non-programmer perspectives on technology. Chief Everything Officer? COO? Whatever my title, I want to have some fun and make a difference!!

The only other limitation is that iOS devices (iPad, iPhone) do not support Flash and therefore the grading app will not function on iOS.

An internet connection is required.

How do I get my students' papers into the system?

Teacher batch uploads:The most basic method is to have teachers upload the essays themselves. This places the burden on the teacher, but makes sense for those teachers who have a "hand-in" folder on the school network or who receive their assignments via email.

Students upload to an assignment link: No logins are required. Each assignment is given a unique five-character upload code (e.g. "WE4T2"). Give this code to your students and the site will guide them from there. This has the added advantage of building your class roster for you (see this video for details).

Other options

We have a number of other possibilities for getting essays into the system that have not yet been implemented. We will listen to our users to help us prioritize which ones to work on first. Those options are:

Students have their own logins: This is how all of the online learning environments work (e.g. Blackboard, moodle, Sakai). Students log in and then submit their assignment. We're able to identify the essay by student and by section. The downside is, of course, that the students will have yet another login to remember. Perhaps if the usernames and passwords are very simple (e.g. first.lastname and studentID) this will be a little less frustrating.

Moodle integration: Link your EssayTagger.com account to your school's moodle server so that we can copy the submitted essays from moodle and import them for you. This is one of our preferred methods, but obviously only works for the teachers that have access to and use moodle.

Sakai integration: Same as moodle integration, but a lower priority.

Dropbox integration: You are using Dropbox, right?! If not, read why you should! With Dropbox integration you'd be able to place all of your students essays in a particular Dropbox subdirectory and then link your EssayTagger.com account so that we can copy the files for you.

Google Docs integration: You would have your students share their documents with you and then once you link your account to EssayTagger.com we would copy the documents and import them for you. The downside of this is that Google Docs is not very good at document organization. It quickly becomes messy and confusing if you have multiple sections and multiple preps sharing documents with you.

How do students view their graded papers?

When you hit "Mark essay as Graded" in the grading app we generate a marked-up version of the graded essay with all of the comments incorporated into the text. 
If you opted to "Enable student email support" for your course, the site can email the graded papers to each student.
The graded papers can also be viewed directly on the Web or you can print it out. 
The marked-up version also includes a completed rubric grid that reflects the student's performance on the assignment.

This is really just the beginning. One of the more powerful possibilities within EssayTagger is that the graded essays don't have to be the end of the process, but rather the launching off point for the next phase in the student's education.

Future features:

  • Student interaction with comments: have the kids view their graded essays in our system and have them click on each comment and then select "I agree" or "I disagree or don't understand". That could then trigger a discussion (in person or through the system) about a specific comment you made on the paper. Note: We would love to go forward with this feature, but we need to know that our users will find it useful before doing so. It would take a fair amount of work to implement, but we think it would be well-worth it.

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