Monday, February 20, 2017

Fast-Paced Feedback: Using Technology to Provide Student Feedback

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In a fast-paced world, providing direct and immediate feedback to students is critical. As students submit papers, projects, videos, and other products digitally, the ability to give unique and meaningful feedback becomes easier with technology. Feedback allows students to learn from mistakes, grow as thinkers, and recognize their strengths/weaknesses as learners. When feedback is specific and returned quickly, it becomes more relevant and beneficial to students. Providing commentary also allows teachers to evaluate student progress and develop a rapport with students. While I do not always enjoy the grading grind, I believe it allows me to know my students as learners. To make the grading process more efficient and effective, I have embraced technology to help manage my workflow while making my critiques more meaningful to students. As my district officially goes 1:1 next year, I have started evaluating what types of tools are easy for instructors to utilize and how these tools can reduce the time in between submission by students and return by teachers.

When deciding what extension or webtool to use, it is important to consider:
  1. The product. Is this a Google Doc, video, presentation, etc.? What students create can vastly change the type of feedback that students receive and the approach to grading. 
  2. The weight of the assignment. If this assignment is formative or on the smaller side, feedback might be more generalized, and thus a simpler tool might be more effective. If this is a summative assignment or a final project, a teacher may consider more time-consuming approaches to feedback and even multiple tools depending again on the format of the project. 
  3. The student. Each student has a different preference and style of learning. For students who are auditory listeners, a screencast might be a much better means to deliver feedback. For visual learners, being able to link to assignments, diagrams, presentations, and videos might be more helpful. Again, the nature of the assignment and the product itself must be considered in this situation. 

Extensions and Webtools:

Permanent Clipboard is an amazing extension that allows teachers to predetermine frequently used comments into a bank that can be inserted into a comment in a Google Doc, Presentation, or any other application that allows you to add comments. This extension has cut my grading time in half. I have created a list of common grammar mistakes and inserted hyperlinks into the comments to provide students with more specific feedback and resources that they can use to answer their grammar and formatting questions. I have also hyperlinked lessons and videos from my class that contains specific lessons from our class specific. Linking these resources encourages students to revisit lessons as needed and at their own pace. To make feedback more direct, I will add comments specific to paper prompts or projects that I use for a particular assignment that I will later delete from my Permanent Clipboard because they are only relevant to a given assignment. Again, this tool has made it possible to provide specific feedback and additional resources while significantly reducing my grading time. Here's my list of general comments that I have shared with colleagues to help them begin creating their tailored list of comments for students. 

Kami links to a Google account and allows individuals to annotate PDFs. This tool has been helpful when annotating readings with students. Kami permits users to add text, highlight in multiple colors, insert comments, and even insert shapes. The extension has made significant improvements since the start of 2017, too. What I find most helpful about the upgrades is that a user can insert clickable links that viewers of the annotations can access. Again, using links provides teachers with the option to link resources on the web, classroom documents, and even videos which can greatly improve students' understanding of specific topics or learning objectives. Once annotations or grading has been completed, the document can be saved, shared, or downloaded. Being able to share annotated documents with students allows teachers to give feedback to a variety of written documents, pictures, graphs, slideshows, and other products produced by students. 

Kaizena has changed drastically since I started using it. Originally is was much more of an annotating tool and now has evolved into a complex tool that lets teachers have more direct conversations with students. Teachers can create groups to share feedback on group projects, presentations, or other collaborative assignments. This tool makes it easy to voice record comments and even create video recordings of feedback. I have used this mostly with paragraph responses and short writing with my lower-level students, who will watch a three-minute video but won't read written comments. Kaizena now even allows teachers to create lessons and broadcast them to students. While I have not used this feature, I see potential with grammar lessons and revisiting writing skills that students find difficult. This product is awesome and again links with Google Accounts and even Microsoft Accounts. It is certainly worth using and has a great deal of potential. 

Screecastify or Screencast-O-Matic

Screencasting is a wonderful approach to providing feedback to auditory and visual learners. Screencasting allows teachers to walk students through the evaluation process. I have used screencasting when evaluating portfolios, websites, and other visuals (such as inforgraphics or presentations). What is also nice about screencasting is that it is relatively fast. The entire process is only a minute or so longer than the actual act of grading. Students truly enjoy listening to the videos and often want to respond by speaking to me directly, emailing me comments, or adding comments onto the YouTube video that is sent to the students. Also, students often express how helpful they find this type of feedback. 


Diigo is another tool that allows users to annotate a webpage. What makes this tool different from other annotating tools is that it allows users to archive the webpage at a designated time. Being able to save a particular page at the moment is essential during the drafting process. Using Diigo in this manner is helpful when providing formative feedback to students during the drafting stage. Diigo annotations are also easily shared with an individual or a group, which can be advantageous in a variety of settings. 

Vialogues is an interesting product. It permits users to annotate YouTube videos, create channels to be shared privately, publicly, and among groups. Teachers and students can also have a dialogue on a particular YouTube video, thus allowing feedback to become more of a conservation than a one-way delivery of information. I have not used this a ton with students in my class but have used this with my Speech Team students. It would certainly be helpful for video projects and even for annotating video recorded classroom projects. Vialogues opens the door for unique and meaningful feedback on videos and presentations. Using this tool is an excellent way to engage students using a multi-media approach.

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Technology is always changing, but as it evolves, various webtools and extensions provide countless ways to deliver specific and timely feedback to students. As technology becomes a more integral part of learning, it is so critical to always be learning and seeking new ways to enhance the evaluation process can only improve the student experience and increase student achievement. 

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