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Online Teaching Blog

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Educational Technology to the Rescue: An Online Professor’s Knight in Shining Armor

Educational Technology to the Rescue: An Online Professor’s Knight in Shining Armor

by Tara Ross
April 09, 2015

Online faculty frequently spend more time grading written work in the virtual environment than in the face-to-face classroom. Educational technology such as text expander programs can help. Faculty can store frequent comments used in feedback and then retrieve them by typing a few keys. Because they only have to record the comments once, faculty can make them more detailed and instructive. Students receive guidance on what they need to prove and faculty meet university expectations for rich feedback to students.

As an online instructor, you may find that your time is filled with the time-consuming process of grading student papers and other written assignments. School policies, curriculum design and learning management systems all impact the time consuming nature of day-to-day teaching work. Unlike in a face-to-face class where you can quickly circle the grammatical error or write a quick note about the content, an online class means that all work is graded on your computer. Grading written work in a digital format typically takes more time than a physical paper because now you have to use the mouse or keypad to highlight the passages, and that requires many more steps. A quick circle around a word in question becomes difficult to do digitally, and thus you will likely find yourself using MS Word’s review functions to leave comments in the margins. In these instances, educational technology comes to the rescue!

Text expander programs can help you with many repetitive typing tasks, but they are especially useful for online instructors. The software works so that when you type in a string of characters, the text you have specified appears where your cursor is. When you have to write comments on student’s papers, you can save a significant amount of time by setting up such programs with phrases that you know you will use often. I have comments saved for writing abstracts, introductions, conclusions, and reference pages. I have passages written about how to set up MS Word to run grammar and style checks. I have text created to provide URLs to good tutorials on comma usage, paraphrasing tips, and help with APA format.

Both Windows and Apple operating systems have programs for this purpose. I particularly like programs that sync to the cloud so that depending on the computer I am on, the text expander program will be available for me to use. Doing a simple search online for “text expander” will yield many options for you to try. You may find that using such programs will enable you to leave comments that are more robust for your students, meet your university’s standards for helpful feedback, and give your students helpful guidance in writing quality work.