Archive for category Tips and Tricks

7 Reasons to Grade Using a Rubric

With the release of the new version of our Grade Rubric app, we thought it would be a good idea to talk about why rubrics a such good idea. Here are seven reasons to grade using rubrics..

  1. It Keeps You Consistent
    It’s very easy to let irrelevant factors influence your grading over a long grading session, or if you’re just having a bad day. Breaking an assignment down into categories in a rubric helps keep you consistent and fair.
  2. Better Feedback for Students
    I remember receiving grades from professors with comments in the margins, but then having no idea which comment factored heavily into my overall grade. A rubric makes it very clear to the student what they need to work on.
  3. Distance Margin Comments from the Grade
    It’s not uncommon for students to think that they received a poor grade because the professor disagreed with them. I teach philosophy. It’s very argumentative discipline, and I like to engage my students in the margin comments. However, I don’t want them to think that they are being downgraded because I’ve written an argument against their position in the comments. With a rubric system, I can let my students know that any comments that engage their position are irrelevant to the grade, and since I given them a graded rubric – they can see that they were not downgraded for disagreement.  

  4. Receive Better Work
    If your students know what you’re looking for (from a rubric that you give them), then they’ll have more to think about when they work on an assignment. And you are likely to get better work from them.
  5. Eliminates Apparent Subjectivity
    A lot of students think that writing papers is a very subjective thing, especially in my field (philosophy). But take a look at the rubric I use for my short philosophy paper assignment. I ask them to present an argument, present it in numbered-premise form, define technical terms, present reasons for each premise, present a possible objection, and present a response. Notice that all of these are things that you can objectively fail to do.
  6. Makes the Post-Grade Conversations Easier
    You will always have students come to complain about grades, but when I started using rubrics – I noticed two things. First, I had fewer of those complaints. The reason for this is that students most likely get better feedback from a rubric. They know exactly why you took off the points you did. The second thing I noticed is that when students do come to talk about their grade, you have more information to go on. You can look at the rubric and you quickly get a snap shot of what they need to work on, and you’ll be in a much better position to defend your decision and advise your students so that they can do better on future assignments.
  7. It’s Quick!
    You’ll like save tons of time. Especially if you use Grade Rubric app that calculates the grade for you (take the hint).

If you grade using rubrics, or would like to give it a try – you should download our free Grade Rubric app. Our app makes rubric grading, even better. You can create and store Rubrics for all of your assignments or assessments, and use them over and over again. The app will automatically crunch the numbers (or letters) for you and calculate the final grade. The app will also auto-generate and email a grade report to your students.

Download Grade Rubric today!

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Grade Rubric Overview (VIDEO)

This video gives a brief overview of Grade Rubric. It shows you just how simple it is to create and save rubrics for exams, papers, or any other kind of assessment. These can be saved on your phone and used over and over again.

You can find out more about Grade Rubric here. Download it today. It’s free!

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Avoiding Malicious Apps on Your Android Device

You may have heard about DroidDream, a malicious app that Google recently removed from the Android Market and users phones. Malicious apps are something to be worried about. PC World has some good advice here.

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Quick Cite: Bibliography Made Awesome

File this one under awesome. Some ingenious students have developed an app for Android (and iPhone) that lets you scan a book’s barcode, and it will email you a properly formatted reference (Chicago, MLA, APA, or IEEE).

I just tried it out. The concept is awesome, and the app is pretty good. I had one force close issue when I first tried it out, but it worked fine the next three tries.

This app has a lot of promise. It is limited as a full-blown research tool since it only does books, but I can easily see ways for them to add methods to grab DOIs. If they did this, you could scan full references to journals. Until then, I think the app is still worth having, and it could easily be turned into a must have.

Here are some features, I’d love to see (and I think at least two of them could be added pretty easily).

  1. A method for pulling in DOIs
  2. A way to store past scans so you could generate a bibliography for an entire paper
  3. Additional sharing options (e.g. give users the option to share the text via the built in Android share function).

Download it and try it out. You can check it out on their website here. Here’s the market link.

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New Instructional Video of Grade Book for Professors

We just put together a cleaner, instructional video for our new version of Grade Book for Professors. This short video will walk you through setting up the app and quickly demo some of the core (awesome) features. Check it out, and when you realize it’s awesome click here for information about how to get the app. Did we mention it’s free?

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Manage Student Paper Submissions In Google Docs

If you’re a teacher with an Android device, there’s a good chance you use Google Docs to have students submit papers. We’ve already posted a couple of tips for using Google Docs this way. Here’s another one.

Google has recently added a lot ways to quickly filter through papers. Here’s a complete list.

One of the many useful tips there is to use search operators. If  you have students submit papers with a standardized title you can search “title:[insert title]” If you want to find everything shared with you by one of your students simply search “from:[insert student’s email address]”. Here’s the table  of search operators Google posted.

Operator Definition Example
“ ” Quotes To find documents that contain that exact phrase. “match this phrase exactly”
OR To find documents with at least one of the words. tacos OR nachos
– Hyphen Documents that don’t have a particular word. So if you want docs that mention salsa, but not dancing use… salsa -dancing
from: Documents shared from someone from:bob@gmail.com
to: Documents shared to someone to:bob@gmail.com
is:starred Items that you have marked with a star. is:starred
is:hidden Items that you have hidden from the main Documents List by deselecting the Show in Home option. is:hidden
type: Search by the type of document. This covers: document, spreadsheet and presentation. type:spreadsheet
before:YYYY-MM-DD after:YYYY-MM-DD Find items that were edited before or after a certain day. before:2010-12-01
owner: Search according to who owns the item. owner:Frank
title: Search by the item’s title title:”Conference 2010”

There are many other ways to easily filter through your Google Docs folder. Check out the complete list here.

Here’s a list of some of our other Google Docs tips and tricks.

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Android Market Now Has an Education Category

We just finished watching the recent Android press conference that ended a few minutes ago. There are some really exciting things coming to Android both for users and for developers.

One thing we noticed is that you will now have the ability to browse and purchase apps from a web browser. Your purchases will automatically install on your phone! That is excellent!

We also noticed that there is now an education category! We’re not sure when that happened (they didn’t have it a month or two ago as far as we know), but we’re excited that it has.

Our apps have now been moved into the education category, and we are currently exploring the category to see what gems we can find. Stay tuned.

In the meantime, you can browse the education category here. Enjoy!

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Remote Control Google Presentations with Your Android: No App Necessary!

Click to see larger image

Google presentations has some cool features you might not know about. You can view presentations with other people online, and one of the persons can take control of the slides as the presenter. This creates interesting distance education possibilities, but it also makes Google Presentations pretty awesome when everyone is in the same room.

You can exploit this feature to basically turn your Android into a wireless remote control – no app needed! It’s simple.

You need an Android device with a version of Android that can run flash. This might work on iOS, but I’m not sure. I know that it was only when my Android devices could handle Flash that they were able to do this.

What To Do

  1. Project a desktop or laptop on a screen to your audience and open up the Google Presentation to be used.
  2. Make sure the “View Together” tab is clicked so that the chat window opens up to the right.
  3. Open up the Google Presentation on your Android device
  4. Again, make sure that the “View Together” tab is clicked so that the chat window opens.
  5. Above the chat window you’ll see an option that says “Take Control of Presentation” – click that link from your Android device.

That’s it. Now when you click through the slides on your Android Device, they will also change on the desktop for your audience.

Another cool feature is that with the chat window, you have yourself a built-in back channel. If you allow students to bring laptops to class, they could open up the presentation on their laptops, and you’d be controlling their slides too. However, the chat window will always be there for them to type questions or comments.

The illustration above should make it a bit more clear just how simple this is.

Additional Tips

  1. If you get in the habit of doing this, I recommend bookmarking docs.google.com on your Android device, so you can get to your presentations quickly.
  2. You must be logged in to a Google Account for the “View Together Option” to show up.

Enjoy. If you try this out, let us know what you think.

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Samsung Galaxy Tab = Amazing Academic Research Tool

I just discovered an awesome trick involving a couple of Android apps that makes the Samsung Galaxy Tab one of the coolest research tools ever.

What You Need

  1. Some electronic readings for your research
    An Android Tablet is now full of ways to read electronic versions of things on your tablet. Pick your favorite.
  2. Evernote App (or Catch)
    These are two excellent note taking programs. You can take notes on your device and sync them with an online account. Notes can be organized with multiple labels to help you quickly sift through them.
  3. Screen Shot It
    Most screenshot apps for Android require that the device be rooted, but Screen Shot It works on my unrooted Samsung Galaxy Tab!

What You Do

  1. Read until you find a passage that you want to grab and take notes on.
  2. Use Screen Shot It to capture the page you’re reading.
  3. Crop it (optional). If you don’t want the entire page, just a passage.
  4. Click “Share” and you’ll have options to share the image via a wide variety of apps. Click on Catch or Evernote.
  5. The image will be uploaded into a Catch or Evernote Note. Type whatever you want and click “Save” – make sure to tag it for easy sorting later.

After this you’ll be back to the book/journal article you were reading. My Samsung Galaxy Tab has just become an amazing research tool.

Here’s a video of me playing around with it.

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Attendance App (Video Demo)

We just put together this quick demo of our free Attendance App. Check it out!

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