Student urges professors, peers to adopt available digital solutions

The world has gone digital, and so should homework and paperwork at Gannon.

I only had one light book in my bag, a couple of pens and my empty water bottle. But I couldn’t for the life of me remember why my bag was so heavy – weighing me down – as I was walking from Palumbo to my home – a short five-block walk.

After the initial surprise it caused me, the answer – in all honesty – made me feel a little dumb.

How could I have forgotten the folder containing the ungodly amount of papers I managed to acquire over the past two months, when I started the semester in January.

The paperwork, however, did not give me the feeling a junior should have in college; but that of a CEO running a multi billion-dollar company – one that is about to fail.

But that’s just wishful thinking, my imagining I am a CEO. But even a CEO doesn’t have to carry that many papers; they have what they call assistants, a luxury we students do not have, despite that we might end up working as them initially. Maybe the torment will go on after college.

Back to reality.

Ever since, I have thought of many solutions to my dilemma. One was to split the paperwork and only bring what is required for class that day. I tried that, twice, and was not surprised to find professors asking for papers they gave us a week or more before. In addition to the in-classroom problem, going through the papers at the end of the day at home was time-consuming and frankly, clumsy. That solution failed.

Another solution was categorizing the papers based on the class they’re used in. However, that solution failed as well, given the nature of the college life that suggests the overlapping of course content and the varied assignment due dates.

The third solution seemed to be the most feasible: suck it up. But then again, why should I, when there is a clear and an easy solution available?

The solution, however, requires the cooperation of both the professor and the student, and the initial foundation for it has been laid out.

It starts with ANGEL. While the software offers a partial solution to the paper-load issue, the system has a major flaw – it doesn’t leave room for feedback interaction.

What I’m proposing is that we find software that can be accessed online that allows students and faculty not only to post their assignments, which ANGEL does, but one that also allows professors to write their feedback on the same assignment.

Google offered two applications to achieve this end; one is Gmail and the other is Google Docs. Using these applications for grading and receiving assignments is more efficient, as New York Times technology columnist Michael Livingston, a professor at The Citadel in South Carolina, concluded after he made the move himself.

Applying this concept rids both faculty and students of the split between electronic grades and printed feedback, literally lifting weight off everyone’s shoulders. And for the environmentalists out there, it saves the trees!

 

HIBA ALMASRI

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