Rola Ajjawi from the University of Dundee presented a session at the ALT Conference this morning on ‘Building new cultures of learning: using technology to promote assessment and feedback dialogue‘ and there were several points from it that I wanted to reflect on and blog about for my own learning in relation to feedback and technology but also in relation to the How to Teach Online MOOC I am currently engaged in.
I’m not going to summarise the session, but you can read more about the innovations that Rola and her colleagues introduced by following the link to the materials on the conference website above. Instead, I will focus on what for me were the things that rang bells and made connections in my mind.
The Dundee example was in the context of an online non-cohort course, but I believe that the basic principles underpinning the innovations could be applied equally effectively in traditional face-to-face or blended courses.
The two significant aspects to the changes that seemed important and powerful were:
1. restructuring the assessment regime to include more opportunities for low stakes formative feedback.
2. adding a reflective stage to turn what Rola referred to as ‘monologic feedback’ into a dialogue between student and tutor.
Each of these innovations could be expected to make a contribution to improving the effectiveness of feedback and students’ satisfaction with it. The first, by increasing the number of feedback points where students could get advice and guidance from tutors before their ‘make or break’ assessment. The second by initially pushing students to think about and articulate how they will use the feedback they receive and gradually developing their ability to self-evaluate.
I found myself wondering whether this sort of thing is easier to do in an online course. I don’t mean the technology because the way it was handled (uploading documents for marking, then using a tutor-student one-to-one wiki template for the student to respond to the feedback) could be done in a VLE associated with a face-to-face class or even by email or on paper. What I mean is that in good online courses there is an expectation that tutors will need to put in place activities like this to provide support, build learning environments and develop relationships with students whereas it is too often assumed that these things just happen automatically if tutors and students share physical space. It doesn’t.
What do you think? Do campus-based courses have some things to learn from virtual ones?