Use Assignments and Gradebook together separately

So I’ve had this question come up a few times, but it’s come up now enough times I felt like I just needed to go ahead and write it up and file it in the “you-could-do-it-this-way-because-there-is-an-advantage” folder.

Many instructors choose to use the Assignments tool in Sakai to do just what it was designed to do – provide a means by which students can securely submit work to an instructor within a specified time frame.  This particular tool in Sakai 10 works well, especially for online courses. If you have a need to have students recognize certain parameters about an assignment, such as a open date, due date and late-accept date, along with specific assignment instructions and even plagiarism detection, then using Assignments is the perfect place to set this up.  You can even pair Assignments with Lessons to layout course content in an organized fashion.

Some instructors, especially those who teach traditional or face-to-face courses, have a hard time using Assignments, especially since it’s commonly used with submission of written documents, such as papers or reports.  While Assignments can be setup to automatically create a gradebook entry in the Gradebook, this setting also means that instructors (or their TA’s) must go to the Assignments tool in order to enter a grade for student’s submissions.  (Yes, technically you could leverage the “Download All” link and provide grades to students that way, but it’s just so many clicks.)

In this particular use case, I had an instructor who basically already had a really good workflow – and merely wanted to adapt Sakai’s electronic submission function with a process they’d already refined.  “In the old days” she would have students turn in their papers manually in class, and she would read them, possibly inserting comments, but ultimately providing an overall score in the form of a point valuation on the physical paper.  She would then record this score into her gradebook and be done.

With Sakai’s Assignments, this became a much more lengthy process and clicking on each students name to provide a point valuation just seemed so time consuming – and I agreed.

Screen Shot 2015-12-22 at 4.55.35 PM.pngThe way to solve this was to have the instructor create an assignment (in Assignments) for each item she wanted students to submit electronically – making sure the settings for the assignment DID NOT create a gradebook entry in the Gradebook. The next step was to create a manual corresponding gradebook entry for each of the items listed in Assignments.

By negating (or disallowing) Assignments to create the link to Gradebook she was able to leverage her already functional work flow.  She uses (or her TA uses) the “Download All” link for each Assignment, prints out each submission and then grades the printed hard copies.  She then goes right to the Gradebook and simply transfers the point values from the hard copies to the list of students in the Gradebook.

Technically you could go further and make the Assignment entries “associated with an existing gradebook entry” – this is different from having the Assignment tool create the gradebook entry.

Hope this helps!