1 great way of using technology to give feedback to learners

I'm among this bunch of dossers

My students love feedback on how they are doing. They crave it constantly. They ask me practically on a daily basis. As soon as they’ve asked me, they go away for an hour, think about it for a bit, and then come back and ask me again. This, I’m reliably informed, is one of the characteristics of Generation Y: Gen Yers have grown up in a technologically rich environment in which they constantly receive instant feedback on their performance, the result being that they don’t understand it when we don’t give them the same immediate response to their learning. Think of computer games which instantly tell you how well you’ve done, or why your character was killed: there is no delay in finding out how you have performed.

How can we apply this to teaching?

Fortunately, tech help is at hand! As far as I’m concerned, the one area in which we can unquestionably leverage technology to improve our teaching practices is in giving feedback.

Back in the day when all I could really do was to scribble a few lines in red pen on my students’ writing homework, I never really felt that I was doing all I could to make this feedback either meaningful or beneficial. Above all else, this is one aspect of teaching – and one element of the TPaCK model – which has been greatly facilitated by contemporary tech applications.

How do I use technology to facilitate effective feedback on performance?

Currently, I utilize technology when giving feedback in two main ways. Firstly, recording my responses to a student’s work now enables me to deliver thousands of words of spoken feedback in the time it used to take to write two or three sentences. For writing, I practically always use screen capture tools to talk about a piece of writing. However, this isn’t the focus of my post today, so I’ll quickly move on!

Another tool I use enables me to fulfill an obligation which I had previously found a bit tricky. Part of the course grade my students receive is based on their participation throughout the course and explaining exactly how or why a certain grade has been given has never been easy, to be honest. It is one of those things which, even though it is criteria-based, can seem to be subjective, as I ultimately am making the decision based on how I perceive their performance in class. In this particular instance, I genuinely thank technology for having provided me with a workable solution to this issue. The tool I use to help me instantly – and constantly – give feedback on classroom performance is Class Dojo.

Rather than explain what this does, I thought I’d make a video explaining it.

Summing up

What this application does follows what I consider to be the most important guiding principle in using technology: it leverages the processes and activities that students do on a daily basis. Therefore, it provides them with exactly the kind of feedback they get from their other tech tools.

If you use different tools, please let me know, as I really would like to try out new things and improve even further the way I utilize technology in giving feedback to my students. All comments are greatly appreciated!

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24 thoughts on “1 great way of using technology to give feedback to learners”

  1. Pingback: @arzuteacher
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  3. Interesting idea. I’ll poke around it a bit more. My first impression was that it appears a bit juvenile, not simply because of the design/icons, but for the reward/negative in this way. I do have participation marks too, but wonder if this is a bit to micromanaging the feedback.

    I have to say though that I have the complete opposite type of students. Mine never ask for any feedback. They rarely come to office hours, if at all, and almost never want to talk to me outside of class even with regards to the feedback I give them in class or on assignments. It’s all very peculiar, like they don’t care until it’s crunch time.

    1. Thanks for the numerous comments, Tyson. It’s sometimes nice to see a person’s train of thought laid out in this way, it really is!

      I pretty much had the same feelings when I first encountered Class Dojo. Indeed, I actually used it for a couple of weeks without informing anyone just to see if it could be made practicable to my context.

      As I said in the post, it’s the immediacy of the feedback which is appealing; the childish avatars aren’t that much of a distraction.

  4. One of the most powerful moments in my teaching journey was the summer I immersed myself in feedback and checking for understanding. It forced me to ask myself what and if my students were actually learning. I learned the importance of the language I used. I also learned effective ways to track student progress toward learning goals that will inform the feedback I give students. While my effectiveness as a teacher has grown exponentially, I still have a lot to learn.

    Since I teach in a lab, I also have both the challenge and the perk of most student work being completed on the computer. These are some of my experiences, ideas and resources for using technology to provide meaningful feedback to students – and making the process more streamlined for everyone.

  5. Hey Adam

    Nice post. I use Class Dojo all the time and I really like it. With my class of 17 year olds, I reset the totals at the end of the week, and the student of rhe week gets a prize.

    The apps are nice and slick too.

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