The Electronic Grades

Last term, I submitted my final grades on paper, just like I've done since the first class I taught in 1994. Some things have changed (we're using letter grades now, not the 9-point system, and the format of the forms changed in the 2000s, wooo!), but the process is still the same: I have to take the grades from my spreadsheet file and write them down, one by one, on pieces of paper which I have to physically hand in. It's bizarre to consider that, for courses that have multiple choice exams, the marks live in a digital world from the point that they're scanned onwards. Well, up until the time I have to write them down on paper.

Finally, at long last, we're moving into the 21st century. Starting March 12, instructors can (must!) enter final grades electronically. No more paper forms, no more writing things down. And no more transcription errors. There was this one time that I mis-copied a grade over. From that person's grade down, almost everyone was assigned an incorrect grade. There is a way to fix that--Change of Grade forms--but it was a nightmare for everyone involved. (I was told that this happens often, but that didn't make me feel any better.)

That's not to say that errors won't happen--not all UofA computer systems sort student names the same way. Test scoring, for example, puts Da Silva before D'Allaird, for example. This is opposite to how Microsoft Excel (and the rest of the universe) works. Some advice: if your name has a space, an apostrophe, or a hyphen in it, check your marks very carefully. Even capitals in the middle of the name can throw off the sort.

From the information given so far, it looks like I can click to enter each individual mark or, thankfully, upload a spreadsheet file. The system even allows marks to be imported from Moodle's gradebook. Unfortunately, I think we're still not allowed to post final grades on Moodle. Still, students should notice that final grades will be available on Bear Tracks sooner than before. It's nice to be in the 21st century.

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