Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Scripts for edtech companies should be easy, right?

So I keep trying to go the traditional avenues in addressing the problem I have as a teacher with wanting to do something seemingly easy with our online grade system. No one seems to understand what I'm asking so I'll blog it instead and maybe someone can tell me "Yes, that should be easy!" or "Actually you have no idea what you're talking about, it'd be way more difficult than you think."

Here's the problem:
Our grade system does not accept spreadsheet clipboard data to be copied into it. Their website states "Because it is a webpage it cannot behave like a spreadsheet." (Unless of course you've heard of Google.) However a third party assessment site we also use has written a plugin that automates that process for entering scores into my class--unfortunately that's only when I want to transfer scores from that assessment site.

Here's what I'm thinking the grade site could do and you can let me know if you think it's possible:

  1. I know there are script commands that can access clipboard data, so a teacher could copy their scores to the clipboard using a menu or command-c key combination.
  2. On our grade book site, the teacher could click in the first student grade cell and click a button on the site that would run a script (would only work when no grades have already been entered)
  3. What I think the process could be:
Count array data on clipboard and make sure it matches the current class size
Do a loop that alternates between entering in values of the clipboard data and down arrow key strokes 
I'd love to hear your thoughts on this. 

Since writing this post, one of my 8th grade students, Alex Vanyo solved the problem for me by researching and writing a program in AppleScript (Mac). He is close to completion on one in Java as well (PC). (click here to see more)

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