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.
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!