Making Teacher’s & Educator’s Lives Easier By Bridging The Gap Between Hardcopy and Digital!

Being the parent of a 13 year old boy with ADHD, and a specialist in the Document Imaging & Workflow space, means that I see the classwork and homework that my son brings home in a different light.  I’ve watched as our school district has tried to incorporate more online & digital processes and content.  There are online grade books, teacher websites & calendars, email & text message notifications, online notes & videos, online tests, and so on.  Some of these are done well; some are done very poorly.  Our particular school district doesn’t seem to use a solid management system like Blackboard. But even if they did, there is still a major problem for most all schools across the nation: the hand-written, hardcopy classwork and homework.  This is especially a problem in our household – See the first line of this article, “13 year old boy with ADHD…”.

It’s not all that uncommon for my son – often after many “stay on task” reminders – to finish his homework that is to be turned in to the teacher in hardcopy form.  Unfortunately, it’s also not too uncommon to see a disappointing “0” or “X” appear in the online gradebook a couple days later for an assignment that I watched him complete. Problem is he crams it somewhere in his over-stuffed, about-to-bust school binder; only to find out later he forgot to put his name on it, or was supposed to put it in the teacher’s bin when coming in or out of class.  Once again, see first line of this article!

And what about the teachers?  What about all the papers they have to keep up with, flip & file through, grade, enter into the gradebook?  Each teacher has anywhere between 4 – 6 classes, each of which have 15 to 20 students.  I can only imagine…it’s tough enough to wrangle that many kids, then you gotta keep up with all their chicken-scratched papers too!

This is my personal example of what makes the announcement by Blackboard and Sharp Business Systems so exciting.  With the new integration developed by Blackboard, students can now scan their hand-written & hardcopy assignments directly to their Blackboard Learn courses through any connected Sharp MFP.

Blackboard Blog: Sharp integration improves efficiency for students and educators

Utilizing Sharp’s OSA (Open Systems Architecture), students can do the following directly from the Sharp copier’s control panel:

  • See a list of courses and assignments
  • Scan & submit hardcopy assignments to their Blackboard Learn course
  • Print out an assignment (notes, worksheets, etc.) directly from the Sharp MFP’s control panel

I can see a whole host of problems this can solve, and current processes this can streamline & simplify.  Here’s just a few examples:

  1. Teachers having to gather and keep up with hundreds of papers, forgetting to take completed assignments home to be graded, or misplacing or losing a student’s hard work.
  2. Teachers and Administrators having the ability to archive or save student’s work for reference later for parent conferences, tudoring, or even security & safety concerns.
  3. Implimenting barcodes on worksheets and assignments for simple indexing to the right teacher or course, giving students the ability to just place a stack of different assignments in the document feeder, push Scan and be done.
  4. Provides the ability to have students to submit all homework assignments at one time early in the day, and not have to worry about remembering to turn in each assignment independantly in each class.
  5. Not having to worry about whether or not a kid puts his name or class info on each assignment, because it’s already tagged with their name when scanned in.

There are so many more ways the integration of Sharp MFPs into the Blackboard Learn environment can & will benefit educators and students alike.  The benefits it would bring the Adminstration and Information Technology departments would warrant a entire article itself.

As long as students are asked to “show their work” by their teachers, or until tablet technoloy becomes truly affordable for all, there will be piles of paper in the classroom. Being able to take efficiently collect, store and make available all those pieces of paper, while making it easier for kids and teachers, is a real victory!

You can find more information at Sharp’s Blackboard Vertical Page.  Here you can find videos, data sheets, and information on other integration services:

If your school or institution would like to learn more about how to impliment a solution or process like this, please call or email me.  I would be honored to work with you!

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