Yes, there were a few minor technical hitches to overcome and I felt that I needed to know a little more about what I was preparing to do. Oh, how my pattern of having an idea, following it with investigation, preparation and application is so ingrained! OK, anyway, I found some ‘How to’ advice and a small number of positive evaluations so yes, I decided to go for it….audio feedback on student assessments.
I appreciate it’s been around for a while; however, the synergy of having head space, the technology, opportunity and a supportive workplace culture just hasn’t happened before. In all honesty, it doesn’t sound like a big deal, it wasn’t. Comment template prepared, equipment testing 123….testing 123….voice lowered and speech s…l…o…w…e…d… down I recorded 3 minutes of comments. I re-recorded and re-recorded following coughs, hesitations and deviations until; finally I reached a point where I had a complete recording. When I played it back I was ‘blown away’ not in the sense of Stephen Fry reading Harry Potter or anything Morgan Freeman says nor Richard Burton reading Under Milk Wood. But it was the sense of humanity, ‘being there’, ‘being with’ the student continuing the rhythm of dialogue which fills our teaching and learning spaces. Once student assessments are submitted the conversations which helped develop shared meanings and understandings, the dialogic space becomes charged with academic discourse and processes which engender student powerlessness.
I struggle with the current lens on feedback as a ‘gap’ that requires closing or bridging. Whilst we use this frame of reference to formulate research, strategies and techniques we are constantly re-constructing the gap. I wonder if Weick’s process of ‘sensemaking’ might help us understand the issue when he says ‘solutions seldom alter the dynamics of the process so problems keep showing up’. Let’s look at the dynamics of the teaching, learning space around student assessments. Let’s ask ourselves if we are ready to let students reclaim their writing.
The last word goes to the students, well almost, who said that they found audio feedback motivating and would like more. Am I using audio feedback again? You betcha!
Weick K.E. 1995 Sensemaking in Organizations. London. Sage