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Brigham Young Testing Gradebook To Address Cloud-Based Student Work

Brigham Young University in Provo, UT is developing a custom gradebook that will allow its students to develop and maintain their work in any online tool and simply submit a URL to the faculty member. To create what is being called "Open Gradebook," the university is working with Agilix Labs, which specializes in the development of educational products. The university said it expects to beta test that application during the winter 2010 semester.

One premise of the project was to encourage students to be effective, technologically literate, digital citizens who are proficient in using a variety of online tools. "As students participate in the learning process, they should learn how to employ online tools to both create and store their work," said Jon Mott, assistant to the academic vice president for academic technology.

While the university accommodates several different gradebook approaches among its faculty, including the use of the gradebook features in Blackboard, the institution was looking to develop a definitive, enterprise solution that will store student performance measures, calculate a course final grade, and then transmit that final grade to its academic information management (AIM) system. The project involves people from the Academic Technology Office, the Center for Teaching and Learning, and the Office of IT.

According to a Web page about the project, the new gradebook will include:

  • Integration with Blackboard;
  • Integration with the testing center;
  • Multiple "on-ramps" for faculty to input and retrieve student performance measures;
  • Customized letter grade calculation; and
  • Direct interface with AIM to automate entry of grades at the end of the semester.

Using the new platform, students can submit their work, whether it's a blog post, wiki entry, or Google Doc, by providing the instructor with the URL. Instructors will be able to review and assess submitted student work. Once the student's work has been evaluated in the gradebook interface, the instructor can feed assessment scores into a reporting interface. From there, instructors can do reporting both at the individual level, and at the program and institutional level.

Agilix used gradebook features from its online learning platform, BrainHoney, as the basis for the custom design.

"What Agilix has helped us create is a secure way to convey feedback to the student about what they are doing in the cloud," said Mott.

"Education institutions are simply not equipped to develop and deploy better tools than those freely available online," said Mott. "Rather than compete with the enormous network that has been provided for us, we used the Agilix gradebook to promote the use of these applications that are accessible anytime, anywhere, and by anyone. This, in turn, supports greater transparency and expanded opportunities for collaboration that can extend and improve learning."

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a writer who covers technology and business for a number of publications. Contact her at dian@dischaffhauser.com.

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