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Happy New Year! It’s 2014, which means we are well into the 21st Century and yet, many are still dabbling with the idea of “21st Century Skills” and bemoaning how technology is changing our lives for the worse. I continue to disagree – fully! Tech has transformed how we communicate, learn and collaborate in exciting and innovative ways.
In my last post, I addressed cell phones. Today, I’ll speak to feedback.
How has technology transformed how I give and receive feedback?
What a fantastic and easy tool to create online surveys in minutes. I use these often as a way for faculty to give me feedback on a number of issues. They are also a great way to get information quickly, such as individual goals, interests and experiences. Plus, they produce nice data graphs and charts to use in discussing the information. We also use Forms to collect student achievement and behavior information, and we’ve just used a form to collect homework data in a homework study we are doing.
I use spreadsheets to generate online conversations. One way we use them is to collect information so that we can easily see what each other is doing. Currently, we are using a spreadsheet to track our teaching of literacy in various classes. We’ve also used them to generate assessment maps.
Another way I plan to use spreadsheets this semester is to create ongoing, individual dialogue. Here is a draft sample: http://goo.gl/QEMVun. Essentially, I envision an ongoing conversation driven by posing thoughtful questions about craft and goals and providing comments and feedback from both parties. This is modeled after the Downey Three-Minute Classroom Walk-Through, in which posing questions to further craft is a goal. Going online with this dialogue, at least to start, will hopefully deepen the exercise by shifting the time and place for the conversation to occur.
Google Forms & Spreadsheets w/Online Grading Tools
One of our teachers uses online grading software to produce feedback. Students answer questions into a Google Form, which produces a Spreadsheet. He then uses an online grading script called Flubaroo that grades the answers and sends an immediate e-mail to students. It’s fantastic and immediate.
My AP and I use an App called GoObserve for walkthroughs and observations. It allows us to take notes while we are out, and send an immediate email, if we wish. It features tailored reports and gives specific information in the report that is easy for us to observe and record, and useful (we hope) for our teachers.
Online Discussion Forums
In large group dialogues, it is always difficult to preserve each individual voice. Therefore, for “hot” topics, it’s nice to move the conversation online. We use Moodle and embed our discussions there. We’ve also used it to give feedback on projects we are working on in smaller groups.
By participating in someone’s blog, I’m essentially giving them feedback with my thoughts and responses, thereby validating their writing. I’m also connecting with people I don’t know and will probably never know outside of the virtual environment.
I’m sure there are a hundred other ways to give and receive feedback via technology and I’m keen to learn more, so please share.
It is important to note that in no way does any of the above lessen my connection with people. In fact, I think it deepens connection and collaboration, which I will write more about in another post. Happy 2014!