Using screencasts to improve my student feedback

We all know that feedback we give to our students should give them direction. A grade gives them an idea of their location toward a standard or expectation, and the feedback should give specific directions for how to improve their work.

I teach at the university level, and one of the tasks that takes a lot of time for me in terms of feedback is teaching students to write intervention plans for children with disabilities. They have to write measurable goals, select evidence-based interventions, individualize those interventions according to classroom routines, and so forth.

Sue Brookhart presents all of the research on feedback in such an easy to consume way. But for a long time I struggled with how to give the high-quallity feedback she suggests on the intervention planning project I gave my students. I've tried written feedback, which is great in that it offers permanence. But it was always difficult to get all of my feedback included in the document. I ended up using shorthand, and my handwriting deteriorated after a few papers. A lot of meaning was lost.

Then, with the advent of learning management software, I moved to typing feedback into electronically-submitted documents. This improved my feedback, but it still seemed to require multiple iterations to get students to mastery. Perhaps most people do this well, but I wasn't quite communicating everything in notes on the document.

Next, I tried meeting with each student to give verbal feedback. This offered the advantage of being able to have a conversation, and I seemed to communicate my thoughts better verbally while pointing to different parts of the document than I did through text-only feedback. But the verbal feedback wasn't permanent. Students sometimes forgot the suggestions. And then there was the complication of scheduling so many meetings around class and work schedules for everyone.

Enter screencasts! A few years ago, I started using Jing (free, web-based) from Techsmith to capture screencast feedback for my students. Here's where to get it and how to use it. (Click on the overview). And here is an example of feedback I can give on an intervention plan.

Next, I copy the link to the screencast that Jing saved into my online learning management program (I use Schoology), and voila! I can give feedback on 50+ intervention plans in about 3 hours.

PS If you like the intervention planning form, you can register for an online account to use it here.

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