Early Submission of Student Writing


Every week students submit writing—early on, specific exercises assigned by their instructor, then components of their individual projects. It is important for students to submit their writing before the studio session, so that everyone has a chance to read their work and prepare a response. Usually instructors ask that work be submitted at least 24 hours before their studio session meets.

The easiest way to have students submit writing is by creating a Toolkit page. (Go to http://toolkit.virginia.edu to set it up.)

Then you can either:

1. Have your students e-mail their papers to the class e-mail list that you can set up through Toolkit;

2. Use the "Discussion Groups" feature to create a discussion group where students can upload their papers as attachments; or

3. Have your students give your their papers on diskette (or e-mail them to you) so that you can use the "Materials" feature of Toolkit to upload them onto your Toolkit page. (This option involves the most work for you, and is thus probably least desirable.)
A word on formatting:

Make sure that every student can read every paper. If you don't care about formatting, and the papers are short, the easiest way to ensure universal legibility is to have them copy-and-paste directly into an e-mail rather than allowing them to send attachments. That way it won't matter what program or what platform they used to write their paper.

If you do care about formatting, and if the papers are rather long (which is usually the case), then the best option is to use the Materials link of the Toolkit and to ask that everyone use the same file format. The students can either e-mail you attachments or submit the files to you on diskette. If all the students are using MS Word 2000 for Windows, then that's no problem. (Except for Gatesian hegemony.) If you or any of the students are Mac users, WordPerfect devotees, or early adopters of some brand-new word-processing program, then you might run into problems.

The best way to forestall such problems is to ask students to save their papers as Rich Text by choosing File --> Save As --> Rich Text Format (.rtf). All word-processing progams, to my knowledge, have this capability. The file will then be called something like "My Paper.rtf" (instead of "My Paper.doc", for instance, in the case of MS Word). You might also want to ask students to save their papers as "Lastname.rtf", which will help you keep all the files straight. In the case of two Smiths, ask them to append their first initial, as in "SmithJ.rtf".

If you are posting student papers on the "Materials" page (option 3 above), go to the Instructor Tools and click on Materials --> Add New Materials. Scroll down in the File Type box and choose "Other (advanced file type)", then click Submit. Scroll way down in the new File Type box that appears and choose "RTF application(.rtf)", then navigate to the file by using the Browse button next to the box labeled "Local File Name (to upload)", then click Submit. That file will then appear on the Materials link for students to download and read.

Amanda French, the English Department's Teaching and Technology Support Partner (TTSP) supplied the information about formatting. If you have more questions about toolkit or electronic workshop procedures, please contact her at englttsp@virginia.edu.