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Re: Gradebook development

On Sun, Nov 15, 1998 at 09:50:48PM -0600, Tim Wilson wrote:

> 1. Gradebook
> I've written about this previously, but I want to emphasize the fact
> that this software must be user-friendly. The *vast* majority of
> teachers will have no interest in extending or customizing the basic
> program.

not themselves, true. But as soon as the teachers I work with realize I can
customize (the report card generator for example), 1/3 of them ask me to.
I agree with what you say... this is just a footnote.

> 2. Attendance
> We must remember, however, that most schools (at least in my
> experience) already have system-wide attendance software that keeps
> track of the "official" attendance records. In addition to attendance,
> these software packages often handle scheduling, grade reporting, and

Yes, this has not been strongly said yet here: Every school I know of
already has some kind of commercial school management software.  This means
we must plan for import/export with their proprietary formats... this has
been emphasized to me enough times... until such time as they feel confident
to switch to a completely linux based system (if ever!).  PERL is wonderful
for this sort of translation activity which can be a grade 11/12 student
assignment ... send us the formats of your proprietary software and we'll
assign our students to do the conversion scripts.... as soon as we know what
the official format of the non-proprietary data will look like <grin>.

> 3. Seating charts

good one. <dream> and in computer classes, attendance and seating charts
would be created on the fly (for substitute teachers for example) as
students log in </dream>

> 4. Unit planning
> This is kind of a biggie. I've seen project planning software, but never
> anything that seemed like it would work quite right for unit planning.
> The problem is that nearly everyone has their own system of unit
> planning. It will be very difficult to bring sufficient flexibility to
> this software while keeping it easy to use for novice computer users.

this is another area for XML tags.  (Remember that teachers in the field
need not even know of the existence of these tags, the inputting modules can
hide the tags for them by providing forms to fill out or items in lists to
choose from for example). Then we can try various approaches and field test
them without having to rewrite the data ever again.

> When I plan a unit, I like to consider a set of outcomes/objectives for

the tags for the set of outcomes/objectives should be one of the first
things we should agree on. for example:  (PLO=prescribed learning outcome) 
   <PLOCODE> math2.numbers.1</PLOCODE>
   <PLODESC> add and subtract whole numbers up to 18 </PLODESC>
   <PLODESC > http://www.bced.gov.bc.ca/irp/math/numbers#2 </PLODESC>

please note I am just SGML/XML novice and I realize there is a proper
efficient procedure to follow to create tags and a DTD (document type
definition). This would be a good time for you SGML experts on the mailing
list to propose a roadmap. 

> This is where some sort of hyperlinked system could really be useful. I
> would like to be able to link to my Newton's 2nd law quiz (written in
> XML, HTML, or whatever) from within my lesson planning software so that
> I could change it or even project it for my students using an LCD panel.
> A lot of thought would have to go into this. This sort of system would
> be extremely useful if well implemented.

we are on the same wavelength!

> 6. Small-group generator
> This is rather like the seating chart program. I use small-groups
> frequently in my classroom for labs and in-class activities. It would be
> my daily lesson plan would allow me to go back and see who was working
> with whom on a certain day.

and create automatic links to these grouped individuals' assignment pages
for easy marking in context ... oh yes!  

Wow, thanks.