One of my recent interests is Distance Education.  Nowadays Distance Education is an extremely popular trend and that is why a year ago I started teaching distance courses at SAIT.  One of my responsibilities is marking exams and assignments.  I have 30 students per class and obviously I’m doing everything electronically to avoid huge amounts of paper. I’d like to be green and sustainable. 🙂

I don’t have anything specific for assignments.  Students submit them using different formats: Word, PDFs, different image formats (GIF, PNG, JPEG, and TIFF), etc. That is why I just quickly check them on D2L (Brightspace) and leave my comments in the special field, explaining where they lost marks.

As for exams they are coming via e-mail in pdf format. And that’s what I use to mark them:

  1. I’m using Ubuntu 14.10 on my computer. Yes, I know that it’s not supported any more but I follow golden rule of not updating if everything works 🙂
  2. Very often all documents are coming upside down. I have imagemagick installed and use following command for permanent rotation:

convert -density 300×300 FileName.pdf -rotate 180 FileNameNew.pdf

     3.  If I’ve got one or two documents to rotate I use the command above. But this term, for example, everything is coming upside down. So, I wrote a bash script ( to rotate everything at once (I usually use Bluefish Editor for writing small scripts).

for file in *.pdf; do
     convert -density 300×300 “$file” -rotate 180 rotated_”$file”

Just make sure it is executable, using chmod +x in Terminal. By default, the current directory is not on your PATH, so you will need to execute it as ./  or otherwise reference it by a qualified path.

chmod +x


4. For marking and writing comments in the files I’m using simple Wacom Tablet and Xournal (which can be found in Software Centre) as a software for editing pdfs.  Xournal by default saves everything in it’s own format, but it has an option to compile everything to pdf. So you can send pdf file with your comments to student or to department if needed.

It took me couple of days to do a research and set everything up but now everything goes quite fast and smooth. And for me it works as a perfect combination.

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