This is part of my series in using alternative ways to assess student work in a 1 to 1 environment. I have started with a traditional assignment where the teacher assigns a research paper, the student types the paper, prints it out, and the teacher then marks it up with a pen. The original document can be viewed here. Next we moved on to a electronic submissions with examples in both Microsoft Word, and through Google Classroom. These both have benefits beyond saving paper and toner. It is possible to look back on the history of both the changes made to the paper, and the comments provided by the teacher. Additionally, the student can have a conversation with the teacher through the comments, enabling the student the ability to ask questions or clarification on a comment.
The Next Step
But now we need to ask; can we take this to the next level without adding time to the project, student, or teacher? There are several ways to provide the feedback the student needs that will not only take the same time as the traditional way, but may even be faster to assess for the teacher.
Adding Audio and Video
One way to this to provide audio and/or video feedback to the student. This allows the teacher to provide feedback and include not only words, but emphasis and emotion to their comments. I have taken the original paper and presented feedback in two ways. The first one is simply an audio track using Audacity that can be sent to the student’s email, or shared back through Microsoft OneDrive or Google Classroom. Next, I used Snagit to bring up a copy of the paper, and make a video of the teacher’s assessment. This not only allows for verbal comments, but also to markup the image of the paper. Both Snagit and Audacity are available on the computers provided by the County. Actually, Audacity is a free program you can download to your personal computer.
From here, the possibilities expand exponentially. Image the students using these programs, or ones similar to them, to produce their own video research paper, or even an “Audio Book” version of their paper. The possibilities are endless once you add audio and video to the mix.
What if you didn’t have to do all the work. Often, you assign a research paper, then the student writes a draft. You then look at the draft, mark it up, then send it back to the student to correct. Finally after having read the paper two or more times, you do a final mark up and give it a grade. What if you only read the paper once and marked it up with very few marks, then put a grade on it. No I’m not talking about that dream class where every student is a Longfellow or a Lincoln, but your average academic class. Student’s have the ability to objectively read and correct a peer’s paper. That is where a Blog comes in. Using CampusPress at blogs.lcps.org you can create classes and students so they can have their own blog space. Once their paper is posted to a blog, students can read other student’s papers then post reply’s, making constructive comments about changes they should consider. The teacher has full control to approve posts and/or comments or not require approval. There are many other option you can explore form privacy settings to templates. Here is an example of the original paper posted to a blog with a couple of comments added.
These are by no means an exhaustive list of ways to assess a research paper. There are others options that include TurnItIn.com or Loudoun Vision. However, this is a good start that does not require a great deal of training on your part or time to complete the assessment. In fact, one you become comfortable with some of these methods, you may find it saves you class time and personal time.