My school will be launching an ipad program in the middle school this coming fall. All 8th graders will be required to have an ipad. Teachers are being encouraged to research electronic texts and use educational apps this spring in anticipation of the change. Until this past school year, we required all tenth graders to have laptops. The policy shifted when some at the school began to question if we really needed to require devices since so many kids seemed to naturally have them anyway. While the term BYOD (bring your own device) wasn't expressed as the policy change and we still have rules against cell phones in school, the thought was the that need to require specific hardware was becoming a moot point.
As one who's been working towards a paperless model in my classroom for the past few years, I found the lack of clear communication of expectations about equipment left a few students struggling to find ways to lease or purchase devices at the start of school. As I queried others, I found that my problem was somewhat more pronounced than others because I was using technology more regularly as part of the course design.
One of the tools that I have grown to love is a paper grading program called Turnitin. Turnitin is a leader in this area allowing teachers to collect essays, grade them using auto grammar correcting, written comments, and even audio. Additionally, the program allows students to maintain electronic portfolios which are indispensable for monitoring the development of student writing and helping parents understand areas of development in their child's writing skills. Despite all of its wonderfulness, only a handful of teachers have adopted the technology. More on that in my writing about the 2013 Writing Board at ODA.
Today I came across this post about Markup, an app that allows teachers to grade papers on an ipad. What's kind of appealing here is not only the ipad functionability but also the fact that teachers can essentially still embrace that old model of physically marking a page. Teachers load the papers via email (a rather slow and cumbersome process when one has a classful of essays), then they use a stylus to mark the text. The graded paper looks very much like a classic, hand-graded essay. I think this method could offer a palatable transition to electronic essay grading for teachers who are not yet ready to embrace a full featured program like Turnitin. Plus, it offers an entry point for ipad grading. Interesting.
Check it out.