Macros are unknown to most and taken for granted by power users. In this video, I show an example of how I was able to automate assignments and connections to grading standards within PowerSchool’s Gradebook to ensure quality control and speed to set up for 50 Elementary School teachers.
A macro is a script of commands set to run in a select order. A way of programming a series of front end processes if you will.
PowerSchool in our Elementary School had a few factors to consider:
- ES Teachers had never used PowerSchool or GradeBook before
- Gradebook is a Java application which doesn’t have tabbed targeting programmed correctly
- Every teacher needed identical final assignments for 7 courses created quickly for each class. Some teachers having 10+ classes
- PowerSchool doesn’t allow for these assignments or standards to be “pushed” from an admin
- Each course had 2-5 standards each in which to grade from
- A specific end date for reporting needed to be included
All of this had to happen exactly the same for 50 teachers. Any typos or a forgotten step by anyone and grades would not appear on the report card. A potential worse case – if the standards were selected incorrectly, grades in one area might appear for another.
The Solution… Macros!
As these 100s of steps were the same for every teacher, I wanted to program a macro that in 5 seconds would run the exact process needed for each course. This would eliminate the training meetings, review cycles, typo fixes, misselections, date errors, etc. that come from expecting 50 very busy people being introduced to new software to complete perfectly 20-2000 times.
First solution and failure – Automator
I immediately expected to run the entire system using the OSX macro default, Automator. It started great until I found that GradeBook was missing the functionality to tab navigate around the software, you MUST use a mouse. Not only is this a very poor user experience, but Automator doesn’t support mouse coordinates.
A stronger solution – QuicKeys
A little more research and demoing and I found an amazing little program, QuicKeys which operates much like Automator but also will record X,Y coordinates of a mouse clicking.
I built out a series of QuicKeys scripts that could be run in 30 seconds for each teacher providing the exact same setup throughout all GradeBooks. This allowed the technical limitations to get out of the way and let teachers focus on grading, comments and get back to the learning.
Check out the video walkthrough I created showing the process: