Since my program doesn’t have access to Blackboard, I did my own searching for a free online gradebook. There are several options, but the one that everyone seems to go nuts about is LearnBoost. So, I signed up. And I liked it. Sort of. It was better than manually calculating grades, but not as good as the various programs I’ve used through other universities. Briefly, here’s the good, the bad, and the ugly:
The program is relatively intuitive, so it’s very easy to use.
You can sign in through your facebook account. If you don’t want to, creating an account is simple.
You can easily create multiple classes, weight grades, set a grade scale, and take attendance.
You can give your students access to their gradebook, so they can see their own grades and the class average.
You have access to a class statistics page that lets you know how your class is doing.
(These problems may not be universal. Perhaps I just had some bad luck. But it sucked.)
My students could see their scores in each grade category, but they couldn’t see their overall grade. (I, however, could.)
Because my students couldn’t see their overall grades, they were really confused. Each grade category had 4 scores: their percentage, the class average, their weighted percentage, and the class weighted average. They didn’t know which numbers to look at.
The letter grades were often not accurate. My reports would show me that a student had a 78% and an A in the class. (Refreshing the grade scale temporarily solved this problem. But that was a lot of refreshing.)
This is a minor quibble, but when teaching international students, it’s bound to be a problem: when I granted my students access to their gradebooks, they received an email from “LearnBoost.” Even though I told them that’s who the email would come from, many of them expected an email from me and were confused when they didn’t get one. How hard would it be for LearnBoost to use the teacher’s name as the sender on the email invite?
I had a lot of problems with this program, but I’m going to use it again because I don’t really have any other options at the moment. I don’t see why teachers rave about it, but it seems that it might be very helpful for those teaching K-12. Next time I use it, I’m going to make a short Jing video showing my students how to use the gradebook so it’s a little more user-friendly for them.