Correcting written work electronically
In this section we will reflect upon methods to use social media in correcting students electronic submissions.
It is now possible to correct papers electronically using an application program which, when downloaded, is an integrated part of Word. For teachers a set of comments are ready for use by a single click and it is possible to have many sets of comments to switch between. Teachers can easily make their own standard comments to use with the program. The program is useful for all teachers who correct written work and who can make use of a set of comments. As an example, teachers of foreign languages usually have to comment on a lot of grammatical errors, elaborated sentence structures and elements in the context, which are really good. It is possible to give each student good grammar explanations as well as individual comments.
In many classrooms, subject areas or schools/colleges, papers often need to be handed in electronically. The best scenario for this is if you operate from a communication platform, one of the virtual learning platforms. Many platforms may be available and usable; Fronter is used here to explain how it works. This platform is used worldwide, but the choice of a virtual communication platform – as well as the way of correcting papers - obviously builds on the educational culture in the different nations.
The “hand-in” by the students is therefore done electronically and thus the method is environmentally friendly. They upload their paper to a folder on Fronter, which allows them to do so only until a fixed time, after which the folder is closed – late hand-ins are therefore not possible. The student can see if they have uploaded their files correctly, but cannot see papers from other students. Only the teacher can see them all.
The teacher now opens the folder with all the papers, one from each student, and clicks “comment on” on the first paper, which opens the word-document in a way, which means that it will be returned to the same folder directly after correction. No other downloads or the saving is needed. The student will see the returned paper under his or her originally uploaded paper.
The electronic correction and marking of papers has been around for some time with varying success and degrees in ease of use.
The first program in question here can be bought from www.easycorrect.com. You can order up to 5 free test licenses for your school by writing directly (in English or German) to: firstname.lastname@example.org
On a PC the Easy Correct program will be incorporated directly into the Word program, once installed. It becomes an index tab divider, see the example below. On a Mac it runs as an individual program integrating with Word.
How to send the paper from the student to the teacher and back depends on the platform used, so this part will not be explained here – only, I should like to mention that I download the paper from a folder in our platform Fronter, and when done commenting on the paper, I simply click upload again and the student will be able to go to the folder, see his or her own original document as well as the edition with comments. The student does not have to have the Easy Correct program in order to see the comments and work with them.
In practice, you place the curser in the word or you mark several words and then click on the bottom, which says the comment wanted. The comments are then seen in the margin, and if you let the curser rest on top of the word in question, the square box will also show directly. This is an advantage if a student gets quite many comments. Thus it functions just as when we use “Comment” in Word, however, the set of comments are pre-written and are to be used for as many times as possible. Also, links can be attached automatically to comments, so that students can be directed straight to (for example) an instructional videos, on-line exercises, etc. It is also possible to record a voice-comment – and once recorded, they can be saved and re-used. If this method is preferred, remember to ask the students to bring headphones, so you are not to hear your own voice from 20 different computers at the same time.
If you teach, say, 3 subjects, you can create your own set of comments, one or more for each subject. Of course it is possible to write individual comments as well. At the end, when a paper has been corrected, it is often a good idea to click “Insert Stat”. This makes a table, which shows the number of time a comment has been put, i.e. if a student has many errors in subject-verb congruency, it will show and the student may choose to work extra on that next time a paper has to be handed in. The program is simple in use and takes only a short introduction to become familiar with.
Feedback is of course important to students – to learn and to receive comments to the work they have done to the best of their abilities (usually;-) ). Feedback is a crucial part of the learning cycle and the better we make it, the more it is likely to improve our students’ learning. Once trained, the process is sometimes actually faster for the teacher, and it is good to know that more explanation reaches the students.
Previously, I handed back papers on paper… with a red line under errors, and handwritten comments. The students were not too happy about having to continue working on their paper, correcting what I had indicated needed improvement. Now, I can set aside time in a lesson and ask them to make all corrections possible. If they have made an error which is really basic, and they can immediately see what the correction should be, they may erase my comment from EasyCorrect, which they can do with a simple “right-click” on the mouse. If the error is not that easy/simple to correct, or if they need to ask me for help, the EasyCorrect comment must stay in their paper, and they write the edited word/sentence next to it in a different colour, which means when, before an exam for example – they re-read their paper, they are reminded of what was wrong and how it could be improved / corrected. Of course I spend the time in the classroom helping out. The student now gets an explanation to each error, not just a line under a word. This is helpful for them and they are more eager correcting their own work. Also the possibility for a table with statistics about the number of times a specific problem arose seems to be quite popular. Students use laptops only today, and to have all their papers electronically seems to work well for them. And they are always at hand if he/she wants to re-read to avoid repeating the same problems. This was not always the case when they were given back the printed versions of their work.
Have a look at this video that explains how to use Easy Correct.
Other similar possibilities exist. In fact MS Word comes with a “comment” possibility, and you can of course create a list of your own standard comments, but it is not possible to create a special index tap divider, the way EasyCorrect functions. This means you have to make several extra clicks to inform the student.
The free program “OpenOffice” also offers a “Comment on” button as the standard one in Word.
A third possibility is to use the word processor programme in Google.drive, which has a similar simple “Comment on” button. You can write comments as in Word. You have to click “comment” one more time to return to the Word document. You cannot create a special index tap divider here either. However, of course Google docs has another important advantage that students are able to work in the same document at the same time. This is most helpful if a group is working together on a project as they can sit together or in each their city – and still write in the same document simultaneously and see it all immediately. Thus, they can also comment on or add to each other’s contributions and correct errors, etc. The programme is also useful in class for taking notes together during lessons, in pairs. This is an obvious medium for cooperation, but correction done by a fellow student is done directly and does not tell the writer what the error was.
Co-writing for assignments is not allowed if the paper has to be assessed and all papers handed in are checked concerning plagiarism. This because social media may be used as a” recycling centre” which of course is not the intension – just as the concept of “crowd sourcing” (using a vast crowd of people as source) is not accepted.
The cooperation is often done by sending all sorts of files via Facebook for the simple reason that they are “talking” electronically and it is today the fastest way to send a file. Email is not that widely used by students anymore. Most often, each class at school has a group on Facebook, which they use daily for quick communication and sharing of material. Facebook also allows more people to communicate in groups which means that all the classmates can follow the discussion.
To try – e-mail directly to: email@example.com and you will receive information about how to install the program. []
Screen capture tools may be found for free on the net. JING from Techsmith is free. A piece of software to be downloaded, but then it should be easy to use. Another screen capture tool is called Screencast-o-matic. This tool is also free.
That some programmes force you to limit the correction to 5 min. videos may be only an advantage. If you choose to use JING, what you do is to click to upload your file to the JING server. Then you receive a link back, which you can then send to the student, or put it into the paper directly.
Another suggestion: Use a video camera in front of your PC when correcting an assignment. Thus, what you say and do on the screen is recorded and the student receive a very personal and thoroughly corrected/marked assignment return. The student can replay the file as often as wanted. Visual and oral feedback obviously give the students multimode ways of learning from their own work.
In addition, the recording of a file for the students could also be used for comments to a presentation in class, made after the lesson, or for teaching students how to pronounce certain words, which are used in a theme. However, most online dictionaries offer pronunciation of words; even google.translate has this feature.
Other simple ways of recording short comments or work to the students are useful in our platform “Fronter” which is used by all teachers and students, which means everybody is familiar with the platform. I here assume that similar platforms have similar features.
A place to go to be informed in detail about free online tutorials for learning to use technology and ICT in education is this site: http://www.teachertrainingvideos.com/index.html . Behind the site is Russel Stannard from GB.
A very different way of learning online with instant feedback is of course useful to learn grammar, and here I should like to refer to visl.sdu.dk, which is a free online programme: Visual Interactive Syntax Learning. There is a possibility for learning via games and quizzes, and sentence analysis in very many languages is possible. It is also very important that the levels range from primary school to university. In addition, one can learn grammar in most European languages, so this option gives many hours’ work for the students and they get response immediately, which many students like. With this programme, however, the response is not “social” as it is machine-made.
Not all digital/online services may be regarded as real social media if the users who create the contents are not forced to share the contents on the same platform, such as Facebook. However, due to the existence of various technologies such as wiki, blogs, photos- and file sharing clouds, video-logs, instant messaging, etc. these media and technologies offer services which are regarded as social media due to their direct support of dialog, community and interaction.
Ella Wollesen, IBC. www.ibc.dk firstname.lastname@example.org Denmark.