So much technology to explore…so little time! Every time I start to explore the myriad of options for providing online feedback, I am a bit overwhelmed with the number of options. So far, my online feedback has been very standard, mostly using the features built in to Blackboard and now Canvas. I’m sure I have yet to uncover all the options Canvas has to offer. I looked through the Kairos link curry provided, which features the work of Lara Whelan. She recommends using Jing for screen-capture feedback, which is something I would like to explore. I am not sure if Jing offers any advantages over screencast-o-matic. I think that using screen-capture feedback would be especially powerful for the online classroom, as it very closely mimics giving a student feedback in person.
As with traditional, written feedback, I think there is a distinct possibility that some students won’t spend the time really watching/listening to the screen-capture feedback. Of course, students with the time and motivation will probably like it a lot, but other students might find it too cumbersome to listen to my in-depth comments. And, while I always offer my students the option to revise their essays, only a modest number of them take advantage of the opportunity. It seems worth a try to require a revision, but this comes with its own set of problems, not the least of which is setting myself up to have to re-evaluate the whole stack (virtual, of course) of essays a second time. Nonetheless, I do plan to explore this kind of feedback with my f2f classes, and I imagine it will be even more valuable to online students.
Beyond the issue of feedback, there is the question of how much of the online classroom communications should be formally graded. In chapter 12, Warnock claims he is “a glutton” and that he likes “to grade everything” (137). He says grades “can be used constructively as a means of generating an ongoing conversation with students about their progress” (137). While I agree with him that grades can be useful in providing feedback to students, I’m not sure I would want to do that in the informal spaces of the online classroom, such as on the discussion boards. I can see having minimum requirements, such as an assigned number of posts or a minimum word count, but the idea of grading these informal discussions makes me uncomfortable. I think it’s important that we not forget how stifling it can feel to get graded on things–even if it is a low-stakes, low-points assignment. For example, if I was writing this post “for a grade” I would feel stressed, and my creative thinking would be suppressed. Rather than allowing myself to explore ideas, I might be focused more on formalizing my communication and thinking about what I am “supposed” to be writing. I think this can be a lot of pressure for our students, and that there is a lot of benefit from having required, but ungraded, assignments (much as we are doing here!) The work of Daniel Pink suggests that we are better off focusing on ideas and discovery than on extrinsic rewards. If you haven’t read his work or watched any of his talks, here is a link to his Ted Talk: https://www.ted.com/talks/dan_pink_on_motivation I highly recommend it!
In short, my musings lead me to believe that feedback and dialogue are always valuable, but formal grading can be stifling. In the online classroom, as in the f2f classroom, I like the idea of having ungraded spaces that encourage exploration. Just being good listeners to our students has great value.