Recently, for the first time, I used video and audio technology to provide feedback on student papers in my first-year legal writing class. From my perspective, it was a terrific success. Giving live, oral feedback over video of each student’s paper allowed me to explain my questions, comments, and corrections more naturally and precisely, and also more quickly. I think that most students found the oral feedback useful as well.
The technology I used is TechSmith’s Jing. There may well be other free software products that offer something similar, but Jing is the one that was brought to my attention (by a student, actually–thanks, Priya Barnes). After viewing another educator’s blog post and video demonstrating his use of the product to give feedback, I thought I’d try it.
Here is how the video/audio method of commenting works:
1. I read the student’s paper through, adding highlighting to the spots I wish to comment on, and sometimes adding some corrections or written feedback to remind me of what I want to bring to the student’s attention in the critique.
2. I start up Jing, and create a short video of myself scrolling through the student’s paper and explaining and discussing the highlighted parts. Usually I begin the commentary with an overall assessment and then move on to explaining the highlighted areas, in the sequence in which they appear in the paper.
3. I upload the recording via Jing, and Jing gives me a link to the video on the screencast.com website. Then I paste that link into the student’s paper, for his or her viewing.
A couple of students gave me permission to share the video of my commenting on their anonymous papers. Here is one and here is another. A critique of someone else’s paper doesn’t exactly make for exciting viewing (and I suppose will make little sense to anyone who wasn’t working on the same memo), but it should give you some idea of the way the technology works.
As you may notice if you watch the second video, Jing videos are short–you cannot record more than five minutes of video at a time. This meant that even for this short memo, in a couple of cases I needed to record two videos for one paper, in order to have time to explain all of my comments. You’ll also notice that I use a color-coding system to categorize my comments (substance, organization, style, and usage/format).
From my point of view, the ability to give these video/audio comments simultaneously saved time and increased my ability to explain my comments. Being able to just talk to the student was especially useful if I was confused or not sure about what a student intended to say in a particular spot. The video/audio method also saved my hands from a lot of writing or typing that otherwise would have been necessary. Finally, I love that the student can hear my tone of voice as I highlight the different comments. It made it much easier to convey which comments were more and less important, etc.