Rethinking “Instructor Hold”


Ever since I met Sarah Scott at UNC-Charlotte, I have had to consider the option of a situation where an assignment entered into GITI might not work out exactly as planned, and then the “Instructor Hold” status was born. Internally the status was originally called “scott” (valid codes were “yes”, “no”, “drop”, “inc” and “scott”). Originally the code had to be implemented in short order, due to the time constraints of being in the middle of the semester when realizing that sometimes assignments would end up in an unknown state because of instructor error or oversight. Most often the hold occurs when an assignment comes to its due date and either a rubric has not been issued or there is some other limitation to completing the assignment. In these cases the instructor is the only one who can really provide a resolution (either by giving a new date, or my dropping the assignment). The way that statuses are implemented is a really bad hold-over from GITI v1. First of all, the field is really called “complete”. I suppose originally it was a binary field that expected to know if the assignment had been finished. Over time it grew to have other meanings, including to accept the idea of dropping assignments from grade calculation. The second issue is simply the fact that “hold” and “drop” do not effectively relate the status of the assignment, they are supplemental information not related to the completeness of the assignment. Also, GITI does not presently recognize the idea of an assignment in-progress (something as a grad student I will likely appreciate).

I am considering reworking the entire assignment-control system and making it better at handling a student’s needs. I will correct the issues stated above, including adding the ability to enter an assignment, have it marked as “complete”, but also allow it to be dropped from the grade matrix. I will also implement the “Instructor Hold” properly, including prompting the student for the reason for the hold. Finally, the system was NEVER designed for the types of assignments thrown at it. It was originally designed for “homework” (as its table name in the database proclaims), so short-term assignments. The idea was to enter assignments from school and have the electronic record at home. To greater support other assignment types I intend to add the ability to set up time requirements on the items. Assignments that might not be due for another week, but have a greater time requirement (papers, projects, study for tests), would appear before assignments that are due on the same day, or perhaps even earlier, in the list. This would allow for the budgeting of time for the assignments until such time as a GITI’s schedule utility can be fully integrated to with other modules to assist in scheduling discreet blocks of time to work on the assignments.

As I approach the end of GITI’s useful life for me (for education anyway), I am seeing a lot of things that need to be done to make it useful for other people who may use it in the future. I used to spend my summers and breaks working on code for GITI, making it better for the future semester, but that hasn’t happened in the last year and I fear that the overall success of GITI is in jeopardy because of it (for GITI, success = being able to be used by someone other than the creator).