Wednesday, 11 February 2009

Simon (York)

Finally managed to get back in to the Blog. The trouble is if you use three computers, three email addresses and forty seven and three quarters passwords you make mistakes. However, with the help of my pet whippet I now have an ENTIRELY MEMORABLE blog password!!!!!!!!
OK, Sounds Good!!!???
This has been - as Bob said it would be - an exciting journey (although frustrating at times). I will be putting a full report together...but talk about a learning curve!!! I found that wherever there was a choice to make I made the wrong choice, so everything took hugely longer than I anticipated. The worst thing has been getting the feedback to the students and getting an acknowledgement from them and getting the questionnaires back. This has been marked by a truly gargantuan level of difficulty.
A friend who runs an educational support organisation for creative writing told me last year his network (NAWE) had 1000 members and usually about 100 manage to attend the annual conference. 1 in 10 struck me as very good. Likewise with a survey, 1 in 10 response isn't too bad (though that means to get a response from 50 needs 500 surveys posting out which is a lot of work. Anyway, on Sounds Good I am indeed running at about 1 in 10. Actually I think this is low, and feel sure Bob will be disappointed. The worst thing though is I cannot be sure that the students have even got the Audio feedback at all because I am not receiving acknowledgements!!

So what went wrong? It seems to me that unless you set up the Assignment delivery electronically inside the VLE you are pretty well unable to post out the feedback through the VLE - and in any case once the module is to all intents and purposes over, the students never go near the VLE for that module again anyway!!!

Mark and I set about sending files through the VLE but it was HUGELY timeconsuming for Mark (and he's a VLE expert). So instead I sent the files out using my private email and the students' private emails if I had them, if not University email accounts. Here there's always the problem of file size and not knowing whether they have opened their email account - even once in recent times!!! Or ever!!!?? IN ADDITION - and Mark will be surprised by this - it took hours to do this and therefore probably didn't save (me) time over the 'attaching to the VLE approach'....
So... and that....has been ONLY SOME of the problems....
So do I have anything positive to say??? YES. Both my colleague Bev Geesin and I have been delighted with the Audio Feedback in terms of what it can bring to the process and the students who HAVE responded have all been very positive (except one who wanted written feedback AS WELL!) yes, I think Audio Feedback is the future. I would always want to use it (even though I think with all the technical problems resolved it WILL NOT SAVE TIME. It is though a much more sophisticated, detailed and personal feedback service. OK...full report at the end.

For the moment I am still stuck in a quandary. What should I do for those students who have not responded at all? I may have to go through the laborious process of attaching the files into the VLE...but even then, will they visit Blackboard weeks after they handed in their work???

OK...that's it. More detail will be provided later....Happy Blogging!
Simon signing off (and taking the whippet for a walk).


Adam Read said...

Hi Simon

Very interesting. I'm attaching some possible suggestions which might help you 'receipt' when a student accesses their feedback:

1) I'm not sure how the Outlook 'request a read receipt' works, and whether it will only work when the student is also using Outlook, but that might be worth a look.
2) It looks like you're attaching the audio files to emails. If you could find somewhere to host them you could use some form of tracking which will tell you when they're accessed (this is very easy using something like the Blackboard Content Manager).
3) there must be more?! additional how are you collecting questionnaire responses? If you were to use an online method like Survey Monkey you could provide a link along with the audio file - might get you more responses if you dont already use this method.

Thanks for keeping us all up to date with such a fascinating project.

Best wishes

Adam Read
Learning Technologist
UCP Marjon

Simon Sweeney said...

Thanks Adam. Interesting and useful. The show continues....

Joyce Webber said...

At Brighton University a number of lecturers are using audio for both formative and summative feedback, either for individual students or for group feedback.

I thought you might be interested to know that the mp3 files are posted on our VLE (Blackboard)using the digital dropbox for sending files to individual students, or in folders in content areas, using the Adaptive Release settings to allow access to the relevant groups only. The students then download the files to listen to them on their ipods or similar.

Lecturers are now beginning to write up their findings and produce some stats, for example, comparing the number of words which may be given as written feedback with the number of words given as audio.

If anyone has any suggestions how words can easily be counted in an audio file, please do let me know.

Kind regards

Joyce Webber
Learning Technologies Adviser
University of Brighton
Eastbourne Campus