Saturday, February 12, 2005

Paperless Teaching

My experiment in teaching without using any paper is going pretty well. Last semester I made it a policy that I wouldn't hand out anything in class, but that it would all be digital. But I still gave exams on paper and the students turned in their papers to me in hard copy. But this semester I am trying to be completely paper free. The first paper assignment was due last Thursday, and I asked that the students email me their papers before class started. I ran into a few problems. A few students sent me wordperfect documents, which I can't read so well, being that wordperfect requires Windows and is not available for Mac users. Which leads me to another problem. I require that the papers be in MS Word format. What is good about that is I can check the five pages in length, proper margins, fonts, etc well. It helps me to get the students to follow rules and directions. I also like the track changes feature, as my comments stand out very well. But I'm not comfortable supporting Bill Gates and Microsoft. I've thought about just having them email in text format, but for now I still think I prefer MS Word. So the paperless papers are going well, but I guess I need to find a better term for the assignment, like critical essay for example. For the final exam, I'm going to try an oral interview with each student.

6 Comments:

Blogger Tim said...

Open Office is free, and can produce MS Word format documents as well as its own and others on request...

1:13 PM  
Blogger Michael Homan said...

OpenOffice looks perfect. I'm downloading it now.

1:22 PM  
Blogger Editor B said...

Tim beat me to it, but I second the motion!

3:15 PM  
Blogger lepuzar said...

Michael,

Being a long time advocate of paperless classrooms,I encourage you in your endeavors. I used to run into the same problems with Wordperfect but today you can use free services such as http://www.zamzar.com/ to do all the conversions for free and online. You could also an online classroom for free with Moodle and develop different sort of assignments with your students. My experience is in computer classes (you can see some samples of students work at www.mrboulanger.com) but I am sure you can extrapolate this to social sciences.

2:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You could also let your students downlaod a free pdf-creator (www.primopdf.com) and they will not have to do a switch.

8:36 AM  
Blogger DWees said...

Or you could use Google Docs for all assignments and avoid endless emails (just have the students invite you to the document). Move your word processing to the cloud and avoid messy desktop applications!

10:58 PM  

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