Greetings! Great to be a new member of the Writing with Machines crew!
Reading through Warnock’s text, it’s really got my neurons and synapses firing thinking about the overlap and inherent hybridity that is happening more and more as I integrate Canvas into the daily/ weekly work in my onsite classes. Though I’ve never taught an online course, since adopting Canvas over the summer, it (Canvas) has become an integral component of my teaching practicum. Specifically, in terms of assessment, SpeedGrader on Canvas is much more conducive to comment on drafts early on in the writing process. During workshop/ peer review over the summer, I started to reviewing and making short, targeted comments on student drafts while they are working in groups with peer drafts, I could then check in with each of them individually to discuss the comments I made. Granted, this was for a summer course and we had three hours to work on this, so adjustments would need to be made for a shorter class period. But with an online course, the highlighting and commenting functions in Canvas introduce many opportunities to engage in directed comments while mitigating the issue of illegibility that Warnock brings up in chapter eleven—something I have struggled with for so long.
Another exciting proposition that Warnock addresses in his section on grading in chapter twelve is the possibility of “generating an ongoing conversation with students about their progress . . . grading is too often a one-way announcement form the instructor” (137). One method I’ve employed in my f2f classes, and will continue in online courses, is the use of a Google doc to get a sense of where students are at with their thinking/ feeling about their essay drafts. I ask what they’re excited about, concerned about, or still have questions about- they respond onsite using laptops, phones, or ChromeBooks, and I also give them the choice to answer anonymously. This practice has given me valuable insights into student thinking – and better understanding of what I need to address/ adjust in the lead up to assessment. Students have a chance to comment on what I can do to better clarify or improve my expectations for an assignment and we can then work as a class to address concerns before a grade is assigned.
If I could sum up my thoughts about the future in teaching online courses, I would use one word—more! More comments from me, more low-stakes writing with responses from me, more quizzes to fire up thinking about the readings. Warnock has given me much to consider and to be excited about—some specifics.
Macros—I appreciate Warnock’s cautious endorsement of macros-having a bank of auto-fill comments would help mitigate or prevent “repetitive stress injuries.” I also take to heart Warnock’s privileging of student agency and awareness of student engagement when he cautions against an over reliance on macros that would lead to “boring mechanical routine, “ while “students most likely would sniff out the inauthentic nature of your comments” (126). Macros are definitely a strategy that I would like to cautiously attempt when teaching my first online course.
But the strategy that most excited me was Warnock’s section on AudioVisual Responses to student work. Warnock admits that “[u]sing AV feedback to respond to student writing in the composition classroom is trill a fairly novel application, but the technologies to support this are improving at a rapid pace” (131). I was holding office hours in the Writing Center on Thursday and I notice they had a separate room for synchronous online appointments and it seemed like a very effective use of AV feedback—both the tutor and tutee were discussing in real time the tutee’s paper. In a class of twenty-five plus students the dynamic would have to be adjusted, and one would have to account for the largely asynchronous nature of online teaching, but as Warnock mentions, “AV feedback cranks up the response process considerably from the simple tape recorder by including video of the paper . . .This [AV feedback] is much faster than evaluating papers conventionally, and I give the students more extensive feedback—saying nearly twice as much as I do in a typical written response” (131). Very exciting prospect here—and I hope to learn more about where we are with the technology now, as I imagine we’ve come a long way since 2009 when Warnock’s text was published.