Monday, 4 November 2013

Feedback and Error Correction (with Web 2.0 Tools) - #INGED Presentation Notes

Last Saturday, I had the pleasure to lead a session on behalf of the British Council Turkey at the Annual INGED General Assembly here in Ankara. The topic was Feedback and Error Correction but with an emphasis on the use of web 2.0 tools to facilitate the process(es). This blog post is a promised brief summary together with links to some of the websites I mentioned.


First of all, here are the slides:

And now the notes and links:
Feedback v. error correction
These are two terms I feel are often used interchangeably when perhaps they shouldn’t be. A lot of the time, teachers correct mistakes in students’ written work but call what they are doing ‘feedback’. We made a distinction in the session between teacher-led correction (such as direct correction, highlighting errors or using codes) student-led correction (self and peer editing) and feedback, which we defined as something which comments on and responds to what the student has written, making suggestions to add depth to the content or improve the style of writing. We also emphasised that feedback can and should be positive in tone, ensuring that the student feels the teacher has actually read and understood what they were trying to say.
But, of course, giving feedback in this way, encouraging redrafting and adding in error correction activities as well can be time consuming for both student and teacher both in and out of class. How can we save time but still give effective feedback and assistance to our students? Well, that’s where the web 2.0 tools come in. These are the ones I demonstrated in the session:
Google Drive
First up, I showed how to set up a document on Google Drive and then how we could see what a student writes ‘live’ on our own computer screen (big thanks to Tony Gurr for being the ‘student’ in this demo). This offers various advantages to both student and teacher such as being able to monitor a students’ work without them feeling the pressure of having you peering over their shoulder, the chance to ‘discreetly’ suggest improvements and point out errors without the whole class hearing about it, the ease of editing a digital document compared to a hand-written one, and an activity I pinched from Teaching Unplugged in which the teacher rewrites a students’ paragraph (or, in this case, copies, pastes, and edits it) and then asks the student to highlight and discuss the differences with a partner.
Next, I gave a quick demonstration of how easy it is to make a screencasted video by going to and creating an example using a sample Google Drive text from earlier in the session. Making the video was straightforward (I always used to think screencasting must be difficult and a powerful computer and/or expensive software must be needed but thanks to tools like these, it’s super easy) and it was instantly available for viewing, providing a great way to highlight the amount of oral feedback that can be given in just one minute compared to the few words that could be written in the same time.
Here are links to free sites that allow teachers to screencast videos and send the links to their students:
  • - free to use, allows up to 15 minutes of recording, and you can also publish the videos to YouTube or save them to your hard drive.
  • - also free to use, the videos can be saved on the screenr site and are suitable for playback on mobile devices.
  • Jing - a downloadable programme so you can make screencasts offline, limited to 5 minutes in the free version however.
Online Notepads
The final tool I showed was TitanPad, an online note pad that allows multiple users to collaborate on a text in real time. I showed how this could be used for an error correction activity in which the teacher creates a paragraph with some deliberate mistakes taken from the students’ most recent written work (thanks once more to Tony Gurr for his help here). Groups of students then work together to find and correct the errors, discussing the language and supporting each other as they do so. One nice feature of this tool is that the changes are highlighted in a different colour so it is easy for the teacher to see what the students have done (again, this can be done remotely so as not to disturb the flow of the activity). Different groups of students at different computers could also correct the same notepad for an added layer of collaboration. The key to this is to direct your students back to their own writing once the activity is done, encouraging them to look out for any similar mistakes that they had made - if the process started on Google Drive, it will be that much easier.

Thanks to everyone who attended and contributed to the session and I hope you found these notes useful. I also hope to see you at another event like this somewhere in Turkey soon!