Last night, I recorded a Skype conversation with Gregory Hill, a Spanish teacher from Confluence Academy in St Louis, Missouri about how he uses free screencasting tool Jing to give his students personalised, visual and aural feedback on their written work.
A must listen for anyone interested in exploring alternative methods of formative assessment, Gregory explains in the 30 minute discussion how he first employs TPRS techniques to help his students write stories in Spanish and then gets them to send him their first drafts via the free educational social networking site Edmodo before capturing his spoken and written comments on screen and sending them back for their perusal. Finally students produce their final draft which they are encouraged to transfer into a Voki, Pixton, ToonDoo or other appropriate Web 2.0 tool and publish to a real audience.
Gregory who has only been teaching Spanish for two years first got into recording his computer screen as a way of creating short how to guides for his colleagues to help them learn how to use different software packages they needed in school. Then in March of this year, he read about the inspiring work of Andrew B Watts and Shelly Blake-Plock and realised Jing had a whole new potential which fitted in well with his desire to create a paperless classroom where every child has access to their own laptop.
His experiment so far certainly seems to be working and according to Gregory, the reaction from his students has been very positive and their work has significantly improved as a result. I particularly like this quote which reinforces his feelings about the value of screencasting and how it has changed the way he teaches now.
"I don’t think I’d ever go back to giving feedback on paper again because it’s lacking to me because they’re not listening to it and they’re not actually seeing the process grow on their screen because when they watch the video and they see their first, second, third draft, they see this new story. They can see their story growing and they can see the entire writing process as a process and not as something that you just stamp on a piece of paper and then get a different piece of paper later on."
I appreciate Gregory's honesty in clarifying how long a class set of screencasts takes to record and for admitting the mistakes he has made along the way. I also liked the way his students got on board immediately and found the non-traditional approach less threatening, more like an ongoing conversation than a critique.
He is also looking at ways of annotating over the top of his screencast and would appreciate any suggestions on how to do this most effectively.
I know Russell Stannard who has done a lot of research in this area recommends using MS Word when giving student feedback and that could be a good starting point for Gregory too. Check out this excellent seven part interview where Russell explains in detail how he uses video feedback.
In the future, Gregory would like to encourage his students to use Jing to make their own screencasts of mindmaps, Prezi presentations and other multimedia applications. I look forward to seeing how this project develops. As always, your feedback is most welcome!