Paperless Marking

New tools for better feedback

Why Paperless?

The Time Has Come

Even five years ago, paperless marking was awkward and cumbersome because the tools were either not available, or not developed enough to be useful. However, in recent years, tablets have entered our lives in a big way, and these devices open up tremendous opportunity for paperless marking of assignments. In addition, collaborative editing of documents has made it much more feasible to add detailed comments and feedback on student work from a computer.

Emailing Assignments

One of the quickest ways to go paperless is to simply allow students to email their assignments instead of printing them out. Although this offers some convenience, there are certain issues:

  • Student work is scattered throughout your inbox depending on when it was received
  • Reading the assignment requires you to download the file and open it on your computer (exposing you to viruses)
  • Edits/feedback in the document need to be re-saved to your computer and emailed back to the student adding additional steps.

There are definitely times when accepting assignments by email is useful, but on the whole, this is not a viable solution for going paperless in the long run.

Cloud Based Applications

Cloud-based document applications (such as Google Docs, Office 365, and ZOHO Office), offer major advantages for students and teachers wishing to reduce the use of paper. Some advantages include:

  • Students always have access to a document editor wherever they are (home, school, mobile).
  • Documents exist online, so there is only one version of the document. Comments and edits made by a teacher do not need to be emailed to the student.
  • As soon as an assignment is marked, the student can have it back.
  • Groups of students can collaborate together.

Office 365

The Peel District School Board has partnered with Microsoft to give every student and teacher access to the Office 365 collaboration and communication environment. Among much else, this environment provides users with 25 Gb of online storage in the OneDrive, as well as access to Word, PowerPoint, Excel, and OneNote.

To login, go to Login with your P00 number and your email password.

Word Online

When students share their assignment with you, you can add comments/feedback or edit the document directly to make changes.

PowerPoint Online

PowerPoint Online is useful for marking student presentations, but it can also be useful for marking any graphic work that students create (like mind maps, infographics, etc.)

Potential Workflow

This video demonstrates a step-by-step workflow of how a teacher could accept electronic work using a dropbox on a class site, mark the work using the comment tools in your OneDrive, and re-share the work back to the student. All of this takes place within the Office 365 environment provided by Peel.
Paperless Marking and Peer Feedback in PDSB's Office365

Not only is an excellent application for tracking plagiarism, it is also very powerful for assessment. acts like a dropbox - keeping all files stored in one location, time-stamped from when they were submitted. The service also has some excellent tools for leaving comments/feedback on student work. This service is highly recommended if you are trying to go paperless!

Using Audio

Assignment Feedback

Audioboo is a website and an application for Android, iPhone OS, Windows 8 and Blackberry 10 which allows users to post and share sound files. Audioboo is ideally suited to situations when you want to give detailed feedback about an assignment in which your tone and emphasis are important to communicate.

You can create "boos" and send students links to the feedback.

Answering Questions

The audio recorder on you cell phone or tablet is an easy way to capture feedback or give a detailed response to a student question.

Below is an example of using a cell phone to respond to an email message. With a smartphone, the recorded audio could be emailed directly back to the student.


Clothoid Loops by gwhisen

Using Video

Video Feedback

One way to offer feedback to student who have submitted their work electronically, is to simply do a screen capture while your marking the assignment on the computer. Using this method you can pause the video while your reading the assignment, and only record your screen/voice when you want to leave a comment.
Newton's Laws - Assignment Feedback.mp4

Marking on the iPad

If you still like to use a pen to hand write you comments to students, then get a stylus from any tech store and use your iPad for marking.

Combining the iPad with apps such as Dropbox and iAnnotate will allow you to create a seamless system for accepting student work, marking it up with annotations, and returning the work, without ever touching a piece of paper.

Explain Everything

Explain Everything is an easy-to-use design tool that lets you annotate, animate, and narrate explanations and presentations. This app is available for both iOS and Android tablets. It is a versatile program, allowing you to capture audio, video, images, or written text.

Coach's Eye

Coach's Eye allows you to capture video, and then annotate on top of the video with a variety of tools including text and audio.