Using iPads for group activity in a seminar

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I recently ran a session on “Improving feedback” for a Faculty. I designed the schedule and activities with a colleague from CITE; we were keen to make it as interactive as possible and to give the participants authorship of at least part of the content. We borrowed 10 iPads from the School of Education and created a couple of Google docs to be used in the seminar. The iPads were preloaded with Google Drive and the documents were shared with the generic account that all of the iPads were registered to. All the participants had to do was open each activity file when we asked them to.

This was an entirely new experience for all concerned; there are no more seminars booked yet, but we would like to try this method again.

Activity – Reviewing the quality of feedback given to student

The spreadsheet for this activity showed a sample of written feedback given by a lecturer in response to three student reports. This sample was kindly shared (anonymously) by another member of staff in the Faculty. The groups were asked to give their initial comments on the quality of feedback. They were provided with a column in the spreadsheet to do this, but the activity at this point could just as easily have been carried out using paper copies and verbal responses.

The reason for using the ipads in this instance was that we wanted to introduce the idea of statement banks and, importantly, to be able to help the whole group generate a statement bank that they could take away and start using immediately after the session. Rather than taking time to collate and transcribe written responses on Post-its etc into electronic form and then share it, asking the whole group to collaborate on an electronic version in the session meant that we could share the document with the participants immediately afterwards.

Having commented on the sample feedback, we asked each group to write an idealised version of the feedback in another column, e.g if you had much more time what would you write? These more detailed statements included the following information:

1. Identifying the problem – “You have only used 2 references in the review section”

2. The consequences of the problem – “You might have used biased sources and you won’t fully understand the issue from all angles”

3. How to correct the problem – “Don’t rely on only 1 or 2 sources in your research; perhaps you could try the library tutorials on research skills”.

The groups were then invited to spend a few more minutes identifying other issues/mistakes that commonly arose when they marked student work, and to craft some statements on those. We had provided a column that gave sample codes for each feedback statement (the idea being that staff could mark a code on the student work to save writing everything out), however this was confusing for the groups as the column was visible from the beginning and we did not identify it straightaway.

In general there was a problem getting around all of the groups when they had questions about the information in the spreadsheet. We have now put several annotations directly into the document answering the most commonly posed questions from the session, so this should free up the facilitator to work with groups on the quality of the statements.

photo credit: mikecogh via photopin cc

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