October 20, 2009

This Week in My Classes (October 20, 2009): Secrets and Lies

It's another week of sensation fiction, with the last two class meetings on Lady Audley's Secret in 19th-C Ficton and on Aurora Floyd in Victorian Sensations. I'm still puzzling my way through this round of Aurora Floyd. I wrote a bit about it at The Valve: my conclusion is, rather inconclusively, that the novel is both bad and good, depending on how or why you read it.

Outside of the classroom, I'm busy marking a set of papers, with another (but thankfully smaller) set coming in on Friday--and then another next Wednesday, all of which will get terribly in the way of my reading of Wolf Hall. For pedagogical reasons, I'm a fan of frequent shorter assignments; I think it benefits class discussion and attendance, too, when everyone is writing something on every book we read. The result, though, is that I have papers in pretty constantly throughout the term. Luckily I seem to have done pretty well staggering the dates in my two classes for once. I'm experimenting this term with doing all of my marking electronically, mostly to save paper. I like it better than I thought I would: I'm so accustomed to working on a computer ow that it actually feels easier, and also somehow less demoralizing, to have the papers in a virtual folder on my virtual desktop rather than a paper one on my actual desktop. I can comment in more detail because typing is fast and space (and legibility) is not an issue; I get less physically tired, too. The only clunky part is downloading the files from Blackboard and then uploading them again, one at a time, once I've put my comments on. It seems as if you should be able to open the document in a window inside Blackboard, mark it up, and then just close it again. But if the students just paste the text in to the box in the Assignments section, there appears to be no way for them to format it properly (which does matter, if you are trying to teach conventions for quoting and citing) or for me to mess with the submission. Maybe I'm just not seeing how to do this: I should ask the fine folks at ProfHacker for tips!


The English Teacher said...

In my Creative Writing class, I'm having my students keep their "portfolios" on a class wiki. The students like doing it this way, it's easier for them to comment on each other's pieces, and it's easier for me to comment on them. The wiki also keeps track of revisions. I can look up the history of revisions for a piece and examine what kind of work the student has done on it.

So far, I'm pleased with the results of this experiment.

Rohan Maitzen said...

That's an interesting idea for how to use wikis. I have been thinking about using a wiki for a class note-taking assignment next term; I'm pretty new to the technology myself but more and more, it sounds as if people are finding good pedagogical uses for it.