21st Century Displacement Activities

In the old days, when I had a bunch of marking to do I would go off to the union shop and spend ages choosing a suitable red pen. I'd try each of those on sale at least once and then carefully weigh up the heft of the pen, the quality of the ink colour, the feel of the writing action and so on. I could usually pass quite a while doing these activities, not actually doing anything towards getting the marking done, but feeling good about the fact I was in fact making progress. When of course I wasn't.

Spool forward a few years and I can't do this any more. Some of the stuff doesn't use a pen at all, everything happens on the computer. But I still need my displacement activities. Fortunately the computer, if it is nothing else, is a wonderful source of potential displacement.

I've been marking stuff submitted via Class Server. This has the option for the marker to create six pre-formed text items which can be inserted into the student comments. Thing is, six is nothing. I've got loads more than that. Loads. It really hurts to type the same kind of thing over and over, but I need more than six. More like sixty. So, I built PasteMaster to do this for me. It took me around an hour to build, which is probably longer than I spent choosing pens, but I think it is worth it.


You can type the comments into the text fields and then when you press the button they are inserted into the block at the bottom. You can edit the text at the bottom and add new bits, and everything you add is also placed in the paste buffer, so you can drop the whole report into any windows app. It remembers the comments from last time you ran it, and there are 6 pages of 12 comments that are colour coded and you can flip between.  I managed to set up a page of comments about each of the deliverables I was asking for, so that I could pull out pre-formed bits where appropriate and save myself quite a bit of typing.

(I was going to add a "randomise" button which would pull a comment out of a textbox on each frame and make a random response, but I thought this might be dangerous....)

Anyhoo, it works a treat and saved me a fair bit of typing. Of course, I could have used Notepad, but I think it would have been a bit harder to do and I would not have had the fun of making Pastemaster work.

If you fill out forms with pre-formed responses, or you do the kind of marking that I do, you might like a copy. If so, let me know....