By David Porreca The paper grade book, for years the primary means by which teachers kept track of their students' grades, may soon become another casualty of the information age. By next spring, researchers at the Computing and Communications Services Office hope to have a computerized grade book ready for UI faculty members, their teaching assistants and students. The Campus GradeBook is being developed by a CCSO team consisting of Albert Liu, Bob Penka, Dale Sinder and Allan Tuchman. Also involved in the project is the Division of Measurement and Evaluation in the Office of Instructional Resources, which is developing instructional material to assist faculty members interested in using GradeBook. Although the software is still in the prototype stage, CCSO researchers hope to begin field-testing GradeBook in classes during the summer and fall semesters. They anticipate GradeBook will be available to large numbers of interested faculty next spring. Use of GradeBook will be voluntary, although the CCSO team believes that instructors in large courses with many sections will be attracted by the software's advantages over traditional methods of grade-keeping. In particular, GradeBook will provide a centralized and easily accessible storage place for grade information on all assignments in a course. A course director, for example, can keep track of how students are doing in all of the course's sections by calling up their scores on specific assignments such as exams, quizzes, labs, homework or papers, or by calling up their combined scores. The director can compare sections to check for any major discrepancy in how section instructors are grading. The director also can determine what grade information section instructors and students would have access to. In addition, GradeBook can allow course directors or instructors to sort through grades in a variety of ways, such as calling up a chart representing in graphic form the distribution of course grades, a useful feature for courses that rely on grading curves. For students, meanwhile, the advantage of GradeBook will lie in the ease with which they can keep track of their own grades. Not only will all of their grades be available from a centralized source, but students in large courses will no longer have to try to find their grades on printout sheets posted outside their professor's office. Students will be able to call up their scores in a particular course by using any computer on the campus network. Course directors or instructors will have the option of allowing students to see how their grades compare to the overall distribution of grades in the course. "The Campus GradeBook is a way for instructors to keep track of all their scores in a course by using a central book," said Albert Liu, one of the CCSO researchers working on the software. "The flip side is that it allows students to see their scores and to keep up to date." But as Liu points out, any computerized method of keeping grades must deal with the issue of security. In the case of GradeBook, students will log in by using their network IDs and passwords, which is the same means of authenticating users that UI Direct employs. GradeBook users will have access only to that information for which they are specifically authorized. When GradeBook is ready for release, Liu said, interested instructors will contact the Division of Measurement and Evaluation in the Office of Instructional Resources to set up grade books for their courses. Software will be distributed on line or on floppy disks. Ultimately, Liu said, once GradeBook becomes available on a large scale, the software may become a means for instructors to transmit their final course grades to administrators electronically. But that prospect is still down the road. For faculty members looking for an efficient way to manage unwieldy batches of grade information, Campus GradeBook would appear to have enough immediate advantages to pique considerable interest. "Some instructors use spreadsheets now," Liu said. "They're nice for lots of calculations, but they aren't set up to serve as grade books. The real advantage of the Campus GradeBook is being able to give people access to information from the same source - and only the information they're allowed to see."