Black Board & Physical Copies

My students are often confused that I require both physical copies of essays and an electronic copy uploaded to Black Board.

(For those who are unfamiliar, Black Board is an online resource that resembles a website for a given section of a class. Instructors can upload documents, maintain a grade book, create assignments and quizzes, amongst other options).

I require both electronic submission and a physical copy for two reasons: 1.) The electronic copy comes with a time stamp, which helps me keep track of late papers. This also discourages students from missing class in order to avoid turning in a paper on its due date; 2.) I prefer to leave handwritten feedback, I hate downloading papers and fiddling with Microsoft Word sticky notes or leaving feedback on Black Board.

Inevitably I have numerous students who do not understand this policy. This semester it seems especially bad.

My strategy for next semester is to greatly shorten my syllabus. No more fluffy language. Just simple statements like “Reading is an important skill, you will read in this class.” and “You will upload an electronic copy of your essay to Black Board before class on the day it is due. You will bring a physical (printed) copy OF DRAFTS to class on the due date.” I’m not fond of using all caps, but it’s starting to feel necessary.

I will also require my students to sign a “contract” syllabus, stating that they understand my requirements and will follow them to the letter.

I believe I will also simplify my late policy by stipulating that students will lose 5% of the grade for a late paper.

Tune in next semester, when I implement this plan, for details on it’s success rate.


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