Monday, March 14, 2011

Names on your "papers"

The following is from a class I recently taught which had a small number of enrolled students. This is important for all of us to remember as we set up technology projects so it is shared here for all to see.

As I gathered all the Final Project documents so that I could email comments to all of you I realized that 4 of the 5 had no name in the document or in the file name. This was something we did not cover in the course protocols or the course materials but is something to consider as you work with technology and your students.

Imagine if you had 20 students and they all turned in ProjectX.doc to you? First of all, your computer might overwrite each item if they have the same name meaning you will end up with only one document in your folder. Or... it will change the file name for you to ProjectX1.doc ProjectX2.doc but you still have no idea whose work you have in your folder until you open the document. Even then, you will only know whose work you have if students have put their name inside their document. If the ratio from this course 1 of 5 with a name continued on for 20 students you would have 4 documents with names inside and 16 without names.

I don't bring this up to embarrass anyone, but instead this is something to really think about before doing tech projects. Usually I teach my students a file naming protocol and I prescribe it for each assignment. Usually it is last name first initial and the name of the project. So for this assignment in our course my final project would have been named


This is my fault for not prescribing a file naming protocol. Telling teachers to put their name inside their document, in other words, "put their name on their paper" is something I don't think I should have to say. However, I know I do. I had a professor in my Master's studies who really took me to task when I did this same thing. He told me it was "inexcusable at the graduate level to submit an assignment with no name in it." I don't think I have forgotten to do it since then.

As you all move forward, think about file naming protocols and title page/slide/name on your project protocols. Think through the methods for students showing you which work is theirs. Put those procedures in your directions for your technology projects and reiterate them during the creation and submission phases.


  1. I give students file naming and email subject line naming (same concept) so I don't have to look through a 8 gradebooks to find a name. Do they do this? No. Yesterday I had 14 emails from students and not a course name, number, or student's name in a single subject line. I sent them all back unanswered with a statement copied from the syllabus about how to id email subject lines. It's not rocket science but they can't remember to do that.

  2. Especially when teaching multiple courses for a single university the email subject line protocols are important. I have to admit I waver between drawing a hard line as you did yesterday; and just figuring it out and answering them so I can get on to something else. Like no-name papers I really hate emails with no signature line and nothing identifying the course or anything else. What's funny (no really it's sad) most of my students are practicing teachers!