Capturing the essence of it

How can teachers succeed in providing sufficient, precise and motivating feedback to students – adapted to the needs of every individual? LK06 emphasizes assessment for learning (AfL) as important in helping learners achieve their goals by offering more precise guidance on how to improve (Krumsvik, 2009, pp. 244-245). Adapted education entails giving students opportunities to work with a subject at the right level, enabling them to experience feelings of mastering (Swensen, 2014, p. 120). In lieu of possessing superhuman capabilities, and faced with the task of providing high-quality feedback to 25 – 30 students on a continuous basis, one might ask whether this is achievable at all?

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There are no easy answers to this question. However, research on the use of screen capture technology in assessment, including such solutions as Screencast-O-Matic and JING, presents some interesting findings. Mathisen (2012) discusses how video feedback may increase the efficiency of assessment while at the same time simplifying the process, resulting in high-quality and precise feedback to university students’ written work. Several studies confirm that both teachers and students “express that the quality and precision of feedback sessions increases, and the feedback content is regarded as being meaningful and providing a distinct starting point for change and improvement” (op. cit., p. 107).

How can video feedback contribute to improve the quality of assessment in the EFL classroom? Screen capture technology refers to programmes that allow users to record movements on the screen while also recording via microphone at the same time, and files are compressed and thus easy to distribute to others (Mathisen, 2012, p. 101). In other words, the English teacher may use screen dumps as the basis for providing both written as well as simultaneous oral feedback to individual students. This is nothing if not flexible: Students may view the feedback at home, they may stop and rewind the file, and they can play if over and over again, if so required. Such detailed and to-the-point feedback would be particularly relevant for assessing and commenting upon grammar and vocabulary, as the teacher can highlight text units and use a cursor and her/his voice to explain the specific points addressed. The same method can also be used to point out and discuss the structure of the text (on both the global as well as the local level), and to comment upon the contents of written works. In many respects video feedback resembles face-to-face meetings; one might even be tempted to refer to this method as “download your own personal tutor, at your own convenience”.

What, if any, possible drawbacks are there? Mathisen (2012, p. 109) raises the question of whether this form of response is equally suited to all learning styles, and that “no feedback systems works for everyone” (op. cit., p. 111). Familiarizing oneself with screen capture technology and learning to use this might also be experienced as time-consuming (albeit overall rewarding), as discussed inter alia in this blog post by aclassroomblog.

However, the benefits of utilizing screen capture technology in the ESL classroom far outweigh any inconveniences. There are especially two factors that contribute to my positive attitude and willingness to try out video feedback, if the opportunity should arise. The first is that students, according to Mathisen, report a closer relationship with their teacher through the use of this technology; that they have a sense of being ”seen” (Mathisen, 2012, p. 109). This will contribute to the overall motivation of students. The second factor is that I can customize and adapt every assessment session to the individual learning needs of every student, without being rushed off my feet.

According to a recent doctoral thesis, students are reported to ”not follow up written feedback because they perceive it to be too negative and vague” (Burner, 2015, p. 61). Whether it’s about language, contents, or structure – the use of screen capture technology enables students to benefit from precise, in-depth and comprehensive assessment addressing individual learning requirements. Me, I’d be more than willing to be downloaded to a screen near you.

References

Burner, T. (2015). Formative assessment of writing in English as a foreign language. Scandinavian Journal of Educational Research, 1-23. doi:10.1080/00313831.2015.1066430

Krimmel, Micki. Creative Commons Man. Downloaded 12 April 2016. Online image. Retrieved from https://www.flickr.com/photos/redcarpet/266592978/

Krumsvik, R. J. (2009). Ein ny digital didaktikk. In H. Otnes (Ed.), Å være digital i alle fag (pp. 227-254). Oslo: Universitetsforlaget.

Mathisen, P. (2012). Video Feedback in Higher Education – A Contribution to Improving the Quality of Written Feedback. Nordic Journal of Digital Literacy, Vol 7, 2012, nr. 02, 97-116. Retrieved from https://www.idunn.no/eBook?marketplaceId=2000&languageId=1&method=getIssuePDFVersionFromProduct&productLogicalTitle=dk/2012/02/pdf

Swensen, H. (2014). Omvendt undervisning og tilpasset opplæring. In T. H. Giæver, M. Johannesen, & L. Øgrim (Eds.), Digital praksis i skolen (pp. 120-134). Oslo Gyldendal Akademisk.

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The keyboard is mightier than the sword

Stoddard (2014) raises the the question of whether the new media have in fact contributed to a less democratic society, functioning as a technological mouthpiece for the Powers That Be rather than for citizens in general. The question is relevant indeed and might be said to espouse the same train of thought addressed in one of my previous blog posts, Public involvement in social media – are we merely pawns on a capitalist chessboard?

Whereas my earlier blog post focused on capitalist interests and the necessity of analysing what or who these are and how they impact us, Goddard asks whether media education, especially in the US, is lagging behind in preparing students for a life of active citizenship. He makes several valid points relating to the empowerment of young learners, emphasizing the necessity of developing critical literacy, i.e., being able to critically analyse all media texts in context in order to understand their nature. In short, it’s about being able to take a peek behind the curtains and learn how to utilize the new media to influence and persuade others while working for equality and social justice (Stoddard, 2014, p. 5).

Kattspeilet 2

A wee bit sceptical about who’s really pulling the strings? You bet I am. I favour a true demoCATcy, you know!

To achieve this, students must be taught how to communicate efficiently and how to make the best possible use of the various media. The basic skills in the subject of English (and other subjects) outlined in the Norwegian national curriculum (LK06) include digital skills. Emphasizing inter alia “being able to use a varied selection of digital tools, media and resources to assist in language learning, to communicate in English […]” (Utdanningsdirektoratet), the Norwegian curriculum might appear to be more in sync with a rapidly evolving digital world than what is the case in the US.

The right to pick up the pen (sorry – keyboard!) to influence public opinion constitutes one of the cornerstones of any democracy. Teaching our students how to utilize the implements available to them to exert their full rights as citizens – that’s what empowerment is all about.

References
Stoddard, J. (2014). The Need for Media Education in Democratic Education. Democracy and Education, 22 (1), Article 4.

Utdanningsdirektoratet. The National Curriculum for Knowledge Promotion (LK06) – English subject curriculum. Retrieved from http://www.udir.no/kl06/eng1-03/Hele/Grunnleggende_ferdigheter/?lplang=eng

Photo: Private – my beloved little black panther, Dina. Rest in peace.