Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Objects in Internet may be closer than they appear

Yesterday a student complained because the grade his paper earned did not agree with the grade assigned by no fewer than four online essay-checking sites. If four different online sites say his paper deserves a certain grade, how could I assign a grade so much lower?

I pointed out that the online essay-checking sites are not necessarily aware of the requirements of the assignment, particularly the requirement that I harped on in class, explicitly stating that failing to complete this part of the assignment would result in a Very Bad Grade. But what I really wanted to say is this: 

I'm tired of being ganged up on by robots. I'm tired of being told that a faceless computer totally unfamiliar with the content of my course knows what counts for good writing in my class.  I'm tired of dealing with the assumption that requirements are arbitrary and grades are endlessly negotiable. 

And while I'm at it, I'm tired of receiving papers submitted in formats my computer can't open. "Open Freely" doesn't open anything but instead assaults me with error messages like "Object reference not set to an instance of an object." I can't grade that. Well, I could, but the student wouldn't like the grade.

I'm tired of being told that my class ought to reflect some arbitrary idea of excellence promoted by robots. My class is not a mirror. If grades in my class are smaller than they appear online, then it's time to pay less attention to the Internet and more attention to my class, where grades are not endlessly negotiable and requirements matter. Welcome to the real world, baby!


Bardiac said...

Wow, that's a new one on me. I hope my students never ever find these sites!

Bev said...

I agree, but I fear that it's inevitable.

dgwilliams said...

I recommend trying Google Docs (so there's no install) or LibreOffice (if you're in the installing mood).

Bev said...

Well, but if students would follow directions and submit Word documents, I wouldn't have to worry about installing anything. Am I being unreasonable in expecting Word documents?