How can I provide formative feedback through the VLE?

Linked to the recent post looking at how technology can be used to improve feedback practices, I thought it might be useful to list some of the ways that the VLE can be used to provide feedback by looking at some of the it’s most popular tools and supported approaches. While any feedback strategy should always be about more than the tool you use, I hope it is useful to spell out what’s currently possible to help you think about how you might want to use it.

The GradeCentre / My Grades

The GradeCentre is the VLE’s default place for collecting student work and it has a number of built in tools for providing feedback. Students can see the work they have submitted and their feedback and or scores through the My Grades tool, which instructors can make available in the main VLE menu as a “Tool link”. Instructors can combine feedback approaches through one interface making it relatively straightforward (and quick) to provide open written feedback, indication of performance against specific marking criteria through a rubric and annotated scripts through inline marking.

The GradeCentre – simple written feedback

Instructors can provide written feedback on student work through the GradeCentre in the same place as they go to collect the work after it has been submitted. IN addition to written comments, instructors can also attach files for students to be able to download through their MyGrades area.

The GradeCentre – rubrics

A rubric lists the marking criteria for a piece of work and allows instructors to indicate how a student has performed against the given criteria, give feedback on what is expected at the different levels of performance and even automatically calculate the overall mark, based on performance against the separate criteria. Students can access rubrics before work is submitted to get an idea of what is expected of them and after work has been marked to be able to see how they performed and which areas they need to address to improve their overall mark. For more on creating and deploying rubrics please see here.

The GradeCentre – inline marking – click here for short overview video

Inline marking will be available following the forthcoming summer upgrade and allows staff to access student work through the gradecentre and annotate it in various ways before providing the annotated script back to students as part of their feedback. This entire process can be completed online without the need to download or upload versions of the student’s work.

Contribution and commenting in student spaces

The VLE  has a number of tools such as wikis,group blogs, private journals and discussion boards that allow students to write, share files and comment on each others’ contributions. These can be used to support a number of activities from collaborative group projects to private reflective journals. As well as allowing students to contribute, instructors can also interact with these spaces if they want, allowing them to provide feedback to students using the commenting feature in wikis blogs or journals, replying to a post in a discussion board or by editing student contributions directly. Students can also be encouraged to provide peer feedback by commenting on each others work or replying to discussion board threads.

See our recent upgrade post for a video of how the discussions board will look following the summer upgrade.

sample comment on student work in a VLE blog.

Automated testing

The VLE’s quiz tools can be used to provide instant feedback to students on their performance. Instructors can choose how much feedback a student will receive when they create a test with options including score achieved, which questions they got right or wrong, bespoke feedback for individual questions or even bespoke feedback for individual answers. When creating feedback, instructors can include links to websites, files and rich media such as video.  As well as providing feedback to students through the quiz tool, instructors can also use “adaptive release” to target the release of additional resources or content to students, depending on their performance on a test, so those that “pass” get one set of resources while those that “fail” get a different set.

The test tool can be used to provide feedback to students automatically, depending on their performance.

The test tool can be used to provide feedback to students automatically, depending on their performance.

Rich media feedback

Students have been shown to react positively to the use of media as an alternative to written feedback, reporting that audio, video and screencasts offer a more indepth and personalised version of feedback for students. It’s possible to release these files to students through the gradecentre or by e-mailing links to the files directly to students. A number of colleagues are also using Personal Capture to create, publish and distribute this type of feedback.

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