You know those shows that interview people on the street? If random persons were to guess the hours teachers work, how many of them would get it right? Their answer might not surprise teachers. Sure, you work hard in class, but after that you get so much free time. You have the whole summer off, right?
It’s not hard to figure out why they think this way. After all, teachers don’t shout from the rooftops each time they spend whole evenings preparing for next week’s class. Nor do they brag when reaching their grading goals for the semester. Well, you might boast a bit about that in the teacher’s lounge.
In reality, US teachers work around 12-16 hours a day, give or take. These numbers tell us that teachers spend much of their “free” time actually working. This practice has researchers wondering whether we should rethink the traditional grading system. After all, aren’t teachers supposed to evaluate students fairly? Don’t they have to focus on teaching and not on grading?
That is why, under all this pressure, you might need a grading companion. Learning management systems (LMSs) have improved a lot in the past years, and continue to do so. An LMS can help make grading faster, more efficient and help you in your daily teaching tasks.
6 reasons why an LMS is the best grading companion for teachers
I like geeking out over the latest edtech trends, but this time I will not focus on features. Instead, I will use a problem-solution approach, which can be used when choosing an LMS. For instance, if grading quizzes manually is a slow process (problem), look for LMSs that have auto-grading options (solution).
- Keep everything in one location. This has happened to all teachers at least once. You have 25 students in your class and 2 missing papers. Now what? The LMS does this job for you since students upload essays and take quizzes online. The assignments will be stored there so you can say goodbye to ring binders for good. Grades will appear in the grade book so you won’t have missing papers. You can leave feedback for assignments. In this way, students can revisit your comments and use them to improve future work.
- Grades can be automatically calculated. Some teachers use pop quizzes throughout the semester to measure learning. This means hours and hours of drudgery as they need to calculate scores. Nobody likes that. The LMS helps you by calculating the final grade for each assignment. All you have to do is to set the correct answers and points for each question. You can also have a much better experience when grading essays or free-form answers. For example, an LMS uses anti-plagiarism tools to immediately detect cheating.
- Flexibility in grading options. An LMS can have multiple types of assignments, from quizzes to essays, from group projects to online debates. It is important to have many assessment types if you want to keep everything online. Otherwise, you can create an offline assignment such as reading a book, and grade them once students complete the offline task. Plus, you can add exceptions for missing, incomplete, absent or excused assignments. Teachers can also create rubrics for different assignments in order to grade faster.
- Personalize assignments. Let’s say that you want to add an extra credit assignment for some students. You don’t want all students to see it since it’s not really relevant for all of them. In this case, you can personalize assignments by hiding or showing them only to certain students. What is more, teachers can opt for dynamic personalization, which automatically hides or shows assignments based on students’ progress through the class.
- Advanced analytics. Measuring learning progress is useful, but teachers usually don’t use analytics because it’s time consuming. They might also not want to reduce learning to numbers. However, in some circumstances, the right numbers can show where and when should a student improve their learning. For example, associating a competency or standard/proficiency with a quiz allows for quick intervention when needed. The LMS also shows student progress through lessons, grade averages, missing assignments for a class, among other statistics.
- An alternative to traditional grading systems. Some consider the grade letter system to be outdated by now and have stopped using it. An LMS can provide the option to create custom grading scales that are more suitable. Plus, an LMS offers flexible options such as non-graded assessments. With the help of competency-based learning, you can see how well students are acquiring knowledge and skills.
Think about how much time you spend on grading and how that time could be put to better use. Determination can only take you so far when the workload is in fact your main problem. An LMS is your biggest ally as you can reduce the time spent grading and even achieve better results. If your school doesn’t already use an LMS, there are a lot of options that are free for teachers and have a good grade book.
Graham is the CEO and Founder of CYPHER LEARNING and NEO. He is a serial entrepreneur, e-learning enthusiast, published author and educator.