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A Critical Gradebook

3 min read

Background

Esther's Gradebook, flickr photo by Cat Sidh, shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

(Esther's Gradebook flickr photo by Cat Sidh shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license)

Back in 2015 I made a switch to a  via FeedWordPress. The plumbing of how to do this was all thanks to the genius of our good friend Alan Levine. Check out Alan's multi-post series "Feed WordPress 101: Installing and Setting Up The Machine" which gives you all the details on how to set this up. You can also go back to my post in January 2015 when I started this adventure "A New Semester, A New Year".

While digging up links to include in that background I found this post ("Conversation with Alan Levine, Pedagogical Technologist") with a video courtesy of Howard Rheingold interviewing Alan in 2014 about connected learning. This leads to the deeper history including the work of Martha Burtis, Jim GroomGardner Campbell and the amazing DS106 project/experience/cult and Domain of One's Own. I also shall not fail to give a glove tap to another colleague and friend who inspired and continues to inspire me in this area: Brian Lamb.

Conversation with Alan Levine, Pedagogical Technologist from Connected Learning Alliance on Vimeo.

The Inspiration

Earlier today I caught the end of a conversation on Twitter focused around the work of Laura Gibbs and her use (and struggles) with the gradebook in Canvas LMS.

This quick burst of tweets gave me the spark to bring back a project that I was working on back in 2016 to write my own WordPress plugin to create a gradebook inside of my course tools. One of the few missing pieces while using WordPress as my platform for my courses was that "comfort" of a gradebook to ease what can be an anxious part of students' lives: "but what is my grade going to be"?  That plugin was a total hack and I quickly abandoned it.

Now, astute readers will be asking: "Grades, you don't do grades anymore Ken"! Well, that is a work in progress still and I am finding the right balance of scaffolding to provide the best learning environment for my students.

You could look back on my previous posts on which was originally inspired posthumously by the work of Joe Bower. The most popular post on my blog by far talks of my first semester implementing this and is titled "Teaching Evaluation Comments: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly ".

The Plan

So I setup a GitHub board (criticalgradebook) and a GitHub repository (again, criticalgradebook) where I plan to build this tool. I'm putting out a call to anyone who would like to help define/design this. Perhaps we could setup a video call to discuss and hash out some ideas soon.

If you are interested, please contact me. I can easily add you to the GitHub board and repository and welcome any other input through any channel that works for you.