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How digital can help the classroom

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How digital can help the classroom

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The last few years have seen a whole host of social approaches and technologies enter the classroom.  Whilst the likes of Khan Academy and the MOOC platforms have led the way, there have also been a wave of smaller, but no less innovative, projects.

For instance, the likes of Smart Kapp and Socrative are offering up a couple of tools for making the mobile devices that most students carry, and indeed many colleges are giving away free, better learning tools.

There has also been a growing use of games in the classroom, with a recentstudy highlighting just how potent they can be as a learning aid.

Snapchat in the classroom

A potentially unlikely platform to be used in a classroom setting is the latest social superstar, Snapchat.  The video messaging service that deletes messages after a short time would appear an unlikely candidate, but a recentstudy found otherwise.

The study revolved around the delivery of feedback to students about the quality of their assignments.  It found that a video message delivered via Snapchat was preferred by students to the traditional method of annotating the assignment itself.

“Almost everyone agrees student feedback is inseparable from the learning process – and some even say high quality feedback is the most powerful single influence on student achievement – yet the same literature points out that many students do not value the feedback comments but simply skip to the grade,” the researchers say.

The researchers note how student expectations have evolved, with many not even bothering to collect their work physically, instead preferring to receive their grades remotely and automatically.

“Even if students read the feedback, some researchers have argued that they do little with it, resulting in lecturers complaining that the many hours spent in providing feedback feels like wasted effort,” the authors say.

“Basically, we wanted to find a something better than the established comments-in-the-margin with a red biro scenario.”

The study provided clear evidence that students both found the Snapchat style video feedback more effective, but it also helped to create a closer connection with their teacher.

“The students had already received detailed written feedback on their first assignment. The videos were generally recorded immediately after the assignment was read and while notes were made on the assignment as prompts no ‘script’ was written. The proximity of the recording to when the assignment was read, meant the comments were specific, the advice relevant and the language had a sense of immediacy.

“This also meant that our time was not wasted making copious notes to recall the specific details of individual assignments. We rarely re-recorded and never edited videos as this would make the process too time consuming and ultimately unsustainable for larger or multiple classes. The recorded videos along with the grades were then uploaded to the grade book in the online student learning platform,” the researchers reveal.

It probably goes without saying that this is a relatively untouched topic, so more research will be needed to see just how effective this could be across a much larger sample.  Nevertheless, it might be something for teachers to try out with their own class to see how pupils respond.


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