A useful tool I have experimented with to give feedback on student writing is TechSmith Jing, a free online video and screencasting tool that can be downloaded to Mac or PC.
Feedback is a fundamental element of learning; it is the best way for learners to discover their strengths and weaknesses, and for teachers to communicate how changes and improvements can be made. This is why I decided to use a tool like TechSmith Jing to help me give real-time, recorded feedback collated at the time of marking the assignment.
I often find myself in the situation where I mark and grade pieces of student writing with comments and corrections, only to find when I hand the work back that learners often have questions about the errors and feedback I’ve given. Sometimes it’s difficult to think back to the moment when I marked the writing and to exactly what I was referring to.
I’ve experimented with making voice recordings to give feedback but it can still be difficult for learners to understand exactly the point I’m making. I therefore decided to experiment with TechSmith Jing because it allows the teacher to make short videos, and/or screencast a document from their computer at the same time. I admit that it took some practice, but the software itself is easy to use and you just need to make sure that any commentary you make in the video is concise and doesn’t exceed the 5-minute time limit.
Using screencasting tools to give feedback
Below you can see a short sample of student work that I created as a screencast on TechSmith Jing. This was accompanied by a commentary in a short video which allowed my student to listen to the feedback I gave at the time of marking their work.
While the document may look the same as any student paper corrected by hand, what TechSmith Jing enabled me to do was clarify my annotations by also giving a spoken commentary of the points I had highlighted or the comments I had made. I’ve learned that if learners have a better understanding of errors and feedback, then they are more likely to take notice of them, and use them as a foundation to improve their writing.
It took a lot of perseverance to find the best way to help my learners improve their writing, but I feel I have found an effective method. There are several advantages to having a feedback recording in response to a piece of written work.
Firstly, it provides a deeper understanding of learner needs and offers a 100% personalised action plan for improvements or changes. The 5-minute recording time limit means that the teacher has to focus the feedback to highlight the most important points, instead of providing limitless feedback that can often be overwhelming and demotivate learners.
I also find that it is useful to keep a record of videos so I can see how students are progressing, and if they are using the feedback to improve their writing skills.
In the long run I have found that the time I dedicate to creating student feedback videos with TechSmith Jing has resulted in saving lesson time that I had previously dedicated to giving individual oral feedback to learners. So, while initially TechSmith Jing may appear a time-consuming option, it is in fact time efficient. In addition, because learners can replay the videos, they can detect for themselves if they are improving their weaknesses and not repeat errors, which also saves me time while giving them the opportunity to develop their autonomous learning skills.