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When It’s Time to Abandon the Digital…

I have a confession to make: I hate responding to student essays through a computer screen.

Yes, I know I’ve advocated using text-expansion software to respond to student writing, Billie has taught us how to respond to student writing audio style, Jason has explained how tracking changes on the iPad might be useful when grading, Doug Ward has described grading with voice on the iPad, and I know that Erin (among others, probably) uses iAnnotate with her students’ essays (an iPad app that both Jason and Mark have covered).

Here’s the thing, though: I am much more comfortable (both ergonomically and psychologically) with a printed essay on the table in front of me and a pen in my hand. It’s much faster (for me), and it is much less taxing (for me). I realize that it might sound ridiculous to describe reading and responding to student essays as “taxing,” but here we are. When it comes to grading essays, I just haven’t gotten to the point where using some kind of digital interface feels as comfortable, as seamless, and as transparent to me as using a pen and paper.

In other words, sometimes it’s necessary to recognize that a potential digital solution is just not going to work out for you. At that point, it’s time to abandon the digital.

How about you? Have you had a similar experience? Have you gone back to analog ways of doing things after a fling with the digital? Please share in this week’s open thread!

[Creative Commons-licensed flickr photo by Ryan Hyde]

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