Ramblings of a Tampa engineer
brown dried leaves on sand
Photo by sydney Rae / Unsplash

I was eating dinner at a local restaurant a few weeks ago when an army of kids walked in. I'm very much exaggerating, because it was more like one group of six high school kids. At one point during dinner, I heard them mention grades had been posted and most of them whipped out their phone and began looking.

This reminded me of the intro of online grading and submissions. It started as early as middle school for me when my language arts class was the first class to use some piece of software known as Moodle. It allowed students to download assignments and for one of our required typed papers, we actually had to upload the paper into Moodle and it did some plagiarism detection. Which was quite an interesting feature, to immediately see some percentage of how much your paper was "copied" from online sources.

As technology evolved, so did the tools and this was no exception when I moved onward to high school. The software this time around was known as Blackboard, and from what I can remember - plenty of people hated it.


Blackboard was everywhere from students to parents, which meant that hiding grades were a thing of the past. Parents could simply log in and see grades for assignments and tests, but students could take it a step further and get a notification when grades were posted.

In my early days of school, after a large exam the classic attitude was to go out and hang out with friends and forget the exam completely. Only when back at school when the exams were returned would I discover my grade. This meant there was no reason to worry or stress over the break, because you couldn't figure out your grade till class started again.

This changed entirely with online education tools. The dreaded blackboard notification would light up and with my history in school show me numbers I'd rather not have seen. Those notifications were anxiety bombs, as more than likely the notification was attached to a large exam which controlled 10-30% of your grade. This met that sometimes you had a discussion with your parents about a grade before you even discussed it in class. For example, a bad grade shown immediately on Blackboard might not have a curve applied which meant conversations are happening before anything is final.

Ignoring any parent aspect, the idea that grades can be pushed instantly to students and parents is today's scary real world. There is no downtime, there is no "blissful ignorance". Maybe this isn't a problem if you get excellent grades, but I can save my rant on that for another post.

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