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Feedback to the future–how do we make feedback better? #tlt14 musings


I’m often asked how do we make feedback better?  Frustratingly, the answer has been around for a while and it’s just logistics that are getting in the way.  Consider the ill guided Tristram Hunt:



He certainly received a huge amount of feedback after his idea.  I swear I forget what it was now though……

Thing is, I remember being part of the SSAT Developing Leaders cohort D, or whatever it was called, and being told by Alan November that we were failing our children, that they can receive loads of feedback online through  blogs.  John Davitt echoed this.  Frustrating because this is a long time ago, at the very early stages of my teaching career.  And yet, children still write in paper books that lock away learning.

The way forward is to use technology to capture learning artefacts.  Of course, continuity Gove or someone at the ministry needs to overhaul the exam system, but that doesn’t mean we have to wait.  For example, in my own subject, Geographical Information Systems has been in the curriculum for around 10 years however, departments can dodge it because it can only be examined through screenshots and a paper based exam system.  The decimation of Controlled Assessment (something I consider to be excellent when properly done) compounds this issue.  School are failing to develop the geographical information analysts of the future (geospatial data being one of the fastest growing job sectors, and geography graduates amongst the most employable).  Madness.

The answer?

  • OneNote has been around for years and enables teachers to records audio feedback at specific points in student work.  The software allows work to be organised just like an exercise book.  Only shareable and able to integrate with most media.
  • Google Docs has been used for years to allow students to collaborate and to share their work with teachers so feedback can be given.
  • I’ve (along with other colleagues) been using slideshare, youtube and twitter to develop feedback mechanisms for years and years.
  • Emails from students coupled with the Comments feature in the Office suite allows quick feedback at any time (and no, I’m not advocating being available to learners 24/7).

Technology already allows us to recreate the campfire.  I’m from an outdoor education background and the real learning and reflection comes at the end of the day.  The simple plan, do, review cycle culminates by talking over the day and ‘washing up’ the learning before planning the next.  This could be over a camping stove, the water cooler or photocopier. How many campfire moments do we provide so that students can reflect and give feedback?

The future of workload freeing feedback?  It’s been around for at least ten years.  The problem is perhaps an unwillingness or inability to capitalise on it.


Photo Credit. Used under a CC licence from Flickr.


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