In this video, I will be addressing some software that saves time with grading and managing the online courses I teach. If you will be teaching or grading assignments, I think that you will find this video helpful.

Many online courses make use of group discussions, blogs, or wikis. It can be very time consuming to review all student work, comment on the work, and then grade this. One way to cut down on the work is to assign students to oversee the student contributions and have them summarize or report on the activities. This frees the teacher to sample assignments rather than reading every entry.


As you know, I don’t use Blackboard to host materials for my courses because I think it important to use software that students such as you will be able to use after leaving the university. Consequently, I have found other solutions for the online gradebook contained in Blackboard. The ClassAction Gradebook meets my “rule of 2” criteria, which means that I keep a copy of the gradebook on my computer as well as the gradebook being online. If the company site goes down or is hacked, I still have my own copy. In this course, you have already seen my video introduction on ClassAction and used the gradebook, so you are familiar with it. ClassAction is a PC software for which there is a yearly or multiple year affordable subscription. Here is a website that gives other possibilities for PC and Mac computers:

Sharing student work can be time consuming. At one time in my online courses, I attached my corrected papers to student email messages. This added an hour of work for me. When I discovered Dropbox a few years ago, I saved myself hours of work in each course. I save a copy of every student item on my hard drive and then move a copy of it to the student’s Dropbox folders. You have already seen in this course how group folders can be employed for collaboration. Personal folders are only shared between the student and me, so these are private and secure.

Grading Assignments

Grading papers is very time consuming. I make use of E-marking Assistant software in which I have created frequently used comments that I paste into margins of the paper or the document itself. In addition, the software has a wonderful feature with grading rubrics. Let me give you a brief demonstration of this software.

Let me give you a quick overview of the eMarking system. What we have over here is the eMarking Assistant. You can bring this up by going to Add-ins and selecting that. It is an add-in to Microsoft Word. The eMarking Assistant has what are called “comment banks.” You can generate your own comment bank based upon what you want for the assignment. In fact, I have numerous comment banks. I change those by assignments. This is a comment bank I use for a certain paper in a course I teach. I have other comment banks that are much shorter. But this, each comment bank is then tailored to the need of the text. So, for inserting comments, let’s say I didn’t like the text “Common Practice Music.” I thought that was a confused word there. I could click on this, it would then add my note—you can see the note down here—that includes links as well as the text I wanted. Let’s just pick another one here. Academic writing—colloquial. This addresses colloquial expressions. You can see that I have here “awkward wording,” “bibliography”…you can put in whatever you want there. It can come in as a margin note or if you want the note to be in the paper itself you can click “text.” There is appears right there in the paper. So, I find this very helpful. There are many comments I make, virtually the same comments on a number of papers because we tend as humans to make the same errors in our papers. So, I find instead of having to type of all of this wording here, I have it pre-typed. I can just insert it in the text, however, I wish to do it.

Now, the last thing I find very useful and in fact you are going to be seeing this in your course as well, is the grading rubric. This is also part of the eMarking system. So, here you can put your comments to your students. Then within the eMarking system you can assign a grade. For instance, I just assigned here a grade of B+. You can go through there and assign all of the grades. It will automatically total the grade at the end for you providing all of the points. You can make all of the rubrics. I make different rubrics for different assignments. You can see that in your syllabus and in the projects or papers that you have in this course. There will be a rubric for that. You can see that it is very detailed. It gives students a clear explanation of what you are looking for and then you provide the special text up here.

I hope that has been helpful for you. I think this eMarking is wonderful. It saves me a lot of time and I think that it is clearer to students how their grade is arrived at. Although this is PC software, there are ways in which it could be employed with Mac computers. Please see this website for further information:


I make use of video a lot in my courses. In many ways, I find that video can be even more effective than in class lectures.

The software that I use for screen captures is Camtasia. I have experimented with other free software in the past, but the results and extra time to make things work was not worth it. For much of my video editing I use Pinnacle. With both, I include added graphics and comments in the editing phase. This is not so easy to do in the free screen capture software. Pinnacle is only for PC, but Camtasia works with both PC and Mac. The software is cost effective for my many uses. In addition, the software allows storage of videos in multiple locations and thus fulfills my “rule of 2.”


If you want to create your own website, continue with this video. If you will only use WordPress, you should stop viewing now.

Over the years I have constructed my websites with a variety of software. Open source software such as NVU is adequate for simple websites, it is also cross platform. Blue Griffon is also a useful software, which is free in its simple version. A few years ago I started creating websites with Dynamic Web Templates, also called Dreamweaver templates. These master templates, when updated, will also change all linked webpages. Now I use Dreamweaver, which is outstanding, but can be expensive if you are unable to find an educational discount.

Once you have your own domain, there are a variety of companies that will host your website. I suggest, however, that you don’t go with the cheapest vendor. You will want a vendor that is stable year to year and offers excellent hosting reliability. I have been using Network Solutions to host my websites since 2006 and I have been happy with the results. In addition to the software offered by Network Solutions for uploading files, I make use of FileZilla and Dreamweaver for managing the websites.

Well, I hope that this has been helpful. I continue to seek out ways to teach more efficiently and effectively each semester. I hope that you too will keep improving your teaching each year. Bye