The assignment grading is in full swing. I share rubrics for Discussion Boards, essays, and mini-writing responses to assigned readings. I also include models in the unit materials to establish formatting guidelines and content examples. Without face-to-face interaction, I believe in providing a robust amount of material before, during and after an assignment is evaluated.
Establishing a feedback loop is a key ingredient. I read students’ assignments three times: once for micorevisions (grammar and mechanics), once for macrorevisions (identifiable thesis statement, unity and development) and a third time to provide comments. I use a lot of colors when I provide comments, clicking the mouse and highlighting phrases or sentences in yellow and inserting links to a handbook or website for additional information. Some text edit programs will offer a thought bubble or speech balloon to drop in feedback as well. And of course there are voice programs like Podcasts, Learnly Voice Comments tool in Google Drive and VoiceThread, a more collaborative program where students can be organized in groups to connect with one another. It is a rigorous activity in that feedback involves an extra technological layer that is not necessarily required in a traditional classroom. For example, in a traditional classroom I can easily group students together by moving their desks or arranging tables. The assignment is provided and the discussion begins. We engage in peer critique sessions and communicate by using nuances and subtle forms of expression in real time that can often be absent online. So we work harder to communicate in a virtual environment.
According to the Illinois Online Network in Strategies for Providing Feedback in Online Courses, “Students need much more support and feedback in the online environment than in a traditional course. This is because the potential threat that students feel alienated is quite high in the Virtual Classroom. Using effective feedback strategies will enable the instructor to identify and meet individual student needs as well as encourage students to participate and continue to participate at a high quality level.”