Every teacher evaluation system recognizes the necessity of giving good feedback so students will know what they did well, and in which areas improvement can be made. But how does a teacher have time to individualize feedback for so many students and for the variety of subjects they may be teaching? The answer is simple – use technology! In the past, feedback has been limited to hand-written annotations on a paper or verbal comments made in person. We have all had the experience of spending time writing out specific information for students, only to have them wad up the paper and toss it in the trash without ever looking at anything except the grade at the top of the page. Technology can change this habit by engaging the students with one of these interesting options:
Sarah Brown Wessling collects the written work of her students, reads through them numbering areas on which she will comment, and then records her thoughts in a podcast. With the returned paper in hand, students listen to the podcast and can easily find the section she is referencing by the numbers. This method works nicely for grading typed papers, worksheets, math problems, and any other type of written work. To hear more about her and this method, listen to the video found at: https://www.teachingchannel.org/videos/student-feedback-through-technology. If you have never made a podcast, check out http://poducateme.com/ to see how easy it is to get started.
A screen-casting program, such as Jing by TechSmith, allows the user to capture by video what is being done on the computer monitor, while simultaneously recording audio explanations using a microphone. The program generates a link which can be sent to the student. Suppose your students submit their work electronically. You open Jing, pull up their work on your computer, highlight, edit, and revise while explaining what you are doing. At the end, you forward the generated link to the student, who clicks on it and can instantly see what you recorded. The recipient does not have to download any software to view the recording. There are a variety of screen-casting programs available. Check this website to see what is available: http://scoutness.com/the-best-screen-capture-tools/.
Review Tools in Word
If students submit their work electronically as a word-processed document, teachers can easily make comments and revisions using the review tools in Word. Lengthy statements inserted by clicking “new comment” will be placed in a text bubble off to the side so that the format of the paper is not lost. The teacher can underline, highlight, italicize, mark through, or change text color to emphasize areas the student should review. Any changes the teacher makes (such as deleting a space, adding a comma, etc.) will be easily visible to the student when they are made using the “track changes” function. This method of giving feedback is further enhanced for the teacher if the clipboard is used. Comments made for common errors can be placed on the clipboard and simply copied to any paper where the errors are found. It saves the teacher having to retype the same instructions multiple times.
Many teachers already use the free app Evernote to help them stay organized by creating to-do lists, saving websites, and storing photographs. The app is easy to use and can actually increase one’s productivity. It is also a good tool for giving feedback to students. Simply create an audio note with commentary on the student’s work, and make a public link that can be sent to the student’s email.
There are some things you will need to do up front for this to work successfully. First, check with your school to see what tools and technical support are available for you to use. Second, ask for training from your technology department if any of these are new to you. Third, design assignments so it will be easy to use technology for feedback. Finally, remember that saving these files can provide documentation for the future should the need arise.
Teachers know that effective feedback is priceless for students. They also know that it can be time-consuming. Using some of these tools can increase the likelihood that students will actually see or hear the feedback. Once you get accustomed to using these tools, it will increase the quality of your feedback and decrease the time invested in providing it. Enhance your academic feedback using technology!