Crowdmark Lessons I Have Learned

(by Jeffrey S. Rosenthal, October 2022)

This semester I used Crowdmark for the first time, to organise the grading of my students' midterm exams. I had heard that it makes grading much easier, especially in multiple-TA classes. But I encountered many problems and challenges. Although there is lots of Crowdmark documentation to get you started, as well as specific instructions at various other universities and faculties and depts, plus I had a very supportive colleague, nevertheless I still made a number of mistakes and poor choices. So, this document is an attempt to summarise the things I learned from my Crowdmark experience, that I wish I knew earlier -- to remind myself plus perhaps assist others. I will update this document as warranted; comments and suggestions are welcome.

Using Crowdmark successfully requires lots of steps, which I summarise and comment on below (focusing specifically on in-person midterm tests in large undergraduate courses).

Before the Midterm:

During the Midterm:

Right After the Midterm:

Scan the papers into Crowdmark:

(Note: It is possible that our kind staff will scan and upload your test papers themselves, if you add as an Uploader or Facilitator for the assessment on Crowdmark. If so, then this is a great offer which you should definitely accept, and leave the steps in this section to them!)

The Grading Phase:

Wrapping Up:

Final Thoughts -- Was It Worth It?

It is clear from the above that Crowdmark introduces lots of additional challenges and hassles into the grading process -- much more than I expected. Hopefully, these will diminish with more experience. On the other hand, Crowdmark definitely does provide certain advantages compared to traditional paper marking, such as: Probably I will keep using Crowdmark, especially to avoid the risk of lost or damaged papers. But on the question of whether this is really a good advance, the jury is still out.

-- Jeffrey S. Rosenthal, October 2022 (contact me)
Postscript: A Crowdmark employee told me that this web page inspired them to create a new Crowdmark cheat sheet. So, that's something!