In the LMS I investigated, the Grade Center is the hub of posting assessments. The students are listed with grade columns to the right. The teacher can create columns, create calculated columns, manage grades, and generate reports. The administrators of the LMS often set the parameters of grading schemas. Grading options include perentage grades, letter grades, Pass/Fail and descriptors such as Excellent, Good, etc. Any given assignment can be given its own schema. Assignments can be graded from the Grade Center or from the activities themselves. The teacher has the ability to give feedback to the students from each grading site.
An especially useful feature for teachers with many grades to enter is a Needs Grading page where the teacher can see the most pressing grading needs. There is also an Early Warning System. The teacher can set the parameters here. These might include a warning whenever a student’s grade drops below 70% The teacher can customize this tool to meet a number of needs for quick feedback on what is happening with certain students. The system also has the capability of using a Retention Center to replace the Early Warning System.
Students have constant access to their own grades. Other stakeholders, such as facilitators, parents, guardian and tutors .can also be granted access to the student’s grades. There is a Perfomance Dashboard which gives updated information on progress and activity in the course.
The Grade Center Reports can be used for a single student, a group within the course or all students in the course. The report can include a signature. It can be saved as an HTML file or printed.
When the performance of students does not meet expectations, the LMS has the capability of curving scores. This can be done by doing a manual override to the grades. The teacher can also download the selected column to an Excel file. The changes can be made and uploaded into the Grade Center.
Depending on the approach to grading by the administration, teachers have a great deal of latitude with these grading options. From a teacher perspective, the ability to have access to the most pressing grading needs is extremely important. I have never had the following options, but I do like the options of using percentage, letter, pass/fail and word descriptors for different types of assignments. As a world language teacher, I have found that in the early stages of learning students can be intimidated by the need to speak. The pressure of a percentage grade could easily be lessened by using the word descriptors.
The feature that does not appear to be available for grading is NA. This is also an issue that I have discussed with D2L techicians at the Regional D2L conference in Valdosta last year. Since D2L is a Canadian product, it seems that this request has not been raised there because of their Canadian grading system. NA remains a top concern for me as a teacher, but does not appear to be a top concern for LMS’s. In the real world of virtual education teachers simply encounter situations where this would be helpful. When students have IEP’s or 504’s or when students need to have the content differentiated, this becomes an issue. The teacher cannot display in the actual grade slot that a student has been exempted from completing that assignment. When parents and facilitators look at the gradebook, they see a blank. The teacher and student have the understanding of what is happening, but other observers do not. On the whole this LMS seems to meet the needs of most administrators and teachers.