- @newtechnetwork Bring on the A/V to Echo Tasks! #echoAV
- Contention 2 for @newtechnetwork #echoAV | Opportunities for asynch authentic feedback
- Contention 1 for @newtechnetwork #echoAV | Value of “talk” in feedback and assessment
- An authorial note on contentions and an advocate’s note on involvement in the #echoAV campaign
Contention 2: Authentic assessment should be matched with authentic feedback.
Author’s note: Contention 2 will be noticeably more concise than Contention 1. This is the second and final reason for my request for my learning management system, Echo, to record audio/video (A/V) feedback and/or “upload back” capabilities for student assignments. Contention 1 focused so much on how to respond to student writing (partly in thanks to my extensive study of writing during the University of Illinois Writing Project). However, student writing and the establishment of a student-centered writing community would not be the only beneficiary of A/V feedback. Contention 2 will focus on the other products and performances that are generated by students as part of our PBL environment.
Susan M. Brookhart writes in How to Give Effective Feedback to Your Students that when choosing feedback strategies, a teacher must consider the timing, amount, mode and audience before providing the feedback on an assignment or task. Written for a traditional classroom and more for the elementary level, Brookhart’s book still provides lenses of focus for deciding when, how and to whom we give feedback. With these dynamics in mind, PBL facilitators should note that in authentic assessment, we must also continue to try to simulate the “real world” upon which our projects were based.
Of course we try our best to communicate expectations through rubrics. But, anyone concerned with providing the full spectrum of feedback would not limit himself/herself to just using the checks and minuses on a rubric. We would scribble rather permanent notes (see Contention 1 for more on the effects of permanence) on the rubric and hand it back to students, perhaps followed by a conference with the individual or group.
In the more performance-based “live” assessments (presentations or recordings for instance), the “real world” would often provide feedback orally. Investors would discuss the business proposal with the presenters still in the room. In our more visual television spaces, we see an increasing amount of this in shows like American Idol. All of this feedback, however, is synchronous to the presentation or performance.
As teachers, when students perform or present, we are in-the-moment, battling the bell as well as trying to strike a balance of assessing the content or delivery and also providing for the social-emotional needs of the child or children in front of us. Susan Brookhart notes that with oral feedback, teachers have “less time to make decisions about how to say things, and once you have said them you can’t take them back” (p.47 of Chapter 4). (And we don’t have editors or producers to help us stitch together a more moving piece like American Idol does.) In group presentations, we don’t want to call one student out in front of the crowd, nor do we want to publicly correct something as personal as their speech. Instead, we would provide group critique and then later catch up with the out-performing or under-performing students…eventually. And then what about those last two groups who will not have the valuable oral feedback from the teacher or guests because the other groups went too long?!
All of these classroom issues – each, in overlapping ways related to Brookhart’s lenses of timing, amount, mode and audience of feedback – would be less problematic with the tools to provide asynchronous A/V feedback that is authentic to these more performance-based tasks. If a speech was given and oral feedback would not be timely or appropriate given the audience, record and upload your feedback the same day. If you couldn’t get to a group to have a conference, set the agenda by recording your thoughts so that students can listen to them during advisory or a study hall period.
Should it be the primary form of authentic feedback? Of course not. Nothing will capture the physical demonstration of how to use space in a presentation. But the benefits of asynchronous A/V feedback are not isolated to “live” performances.
Beyond providing asynchronous opportunities where we did not have the time/space for in-person feedback, imagine how many new asynchronous, authentic tasks could be met by asynchronous feedback. With a record-to feature, we can orally respond to oral assessments. Or, if students were reflecting/journaling on a recent task by video-blogging, teachers, too, can then provide authentic feedback that would connect to the mode and more personally to the audience. An extension of the mock phone call to set up an interview (mentioned in my Project Citizen debrief) might involve students leaving appropriate voicemails and simulating how “phone tag” works in the business world. I could assess by continuing the simulation in subsequent recordings to the Task.
But beyond the present-day classroom applications, with the increasing rates of taking virtual classes from home, the Echo framework should also be ready to support the online synchronous and asynchronous formats that educators may turn to when students have extra needs or interests that schools cannot support. Innovation on any teacher’s part in responding to students’ needs would be limited greatly when that teacher does not see the student on a regular basis because of the online course format. Multiple feedback options would provide the flexibility that is now synonymous with online classes.
Authentic assessment should mimic the real world situations that our students will face, but the time invested in authentic assessment should be matched by the time we take to give authentic, meaningful feedback, whether or not we have the time face-to-face with our students. In matching students’ delivery modes for demonstrating their intelligence to the real world, we should also be ready to innovate as new tools provide new possibilities of communicating feedback to students. The fast-paced changes in technology and educational policy shifts may soon create a new need for such innovation. We should be ready for that innovation by having the space to experiment with asynchronous A/V feedback in Echo Tasks.