Thursday, May 30, 2013

What happened? Boxes, folders, files, rubrics, comments, replies, evaluation (no, these are not my tags)


One thing that I consistently remind myself of... don't expect students to flock to technology just because we are using it.  

I try to engage my students within the classroom.  I am fairly successful at this.  My hope is that, and perhaps we all share this, is that students who don't engage in this way within the classroom may find their stride within an online environment.  At least in this one case, not so.  In both of my courses, there are a small minority that don't engage and this also seems to correspond to the online environment created for this connection.

The technology was Box.com.  The process was peer evaluation.

So... the results.

A recap.  Students from two sections of Public Speaking.  They were paired with at least one student from the other section (allowing for more privacy, more freedom of criticism).  While not a graded assignment (won't change my syllabus breakdown post-day-one), it is considered as part of their participation score.

The raw numbers to provide quantitative perspective...

About 2/3 of the class participated.  This number seems low, however, a limitation occurred to me.  If one partner didn't provide their work, the other had nothing to do.  Therefore, I'll be using a 2 x 2 approach for the Fall instead of 1 x 1 or the rare cases of 1 x 2 (both sections aren't even in enrollment, therefore the extra).  Also, as happens, some late ones are bound to trickle in.

From those who did participate, 38 files of varying types were uploaded for evaluation.  There were some small issues with file types, in particular the .wps file type, which is Microsoft Works.  Students were directed to convert to either .rtf (Rich Text Format, widely useable although a simplified format) or .pdf.  This solved the problem.  One student also had an issue with Box.com and her computer, but she noted that her PC is more than a decade old.

I advised for her to use the mobile app (box.com works incredibly fluidly).  Students commented how much better they preferred Box and also asked how many other faculty used it.  I told them I'm trying to spread the good word.  They also voiced their disdain for blackboard, for what it's worth, citing a lack of intuitiveness, outdated, messy to name a few.

Back to it - More than 50 comments were made on these files, and many followed the format provided.  Some did not (shocking).  But overall, without creating a qualitative piece here, I was pleased with what was provided.  I feel that if students have the benefit of more time (I am far too used to teaching 16 week semesters) that they will be able to focus on the process more.

The good:  Students did participate in terms of the majority and did so relatively effectively.
                   The technology performed as expected.

The bad:    Reliance on the partner inhibited the evaluation relationship to occur
                   Still some fluff responses and students were more supportive than I would have preferred.

Changes?    As mentioned, next semester, 2x2 groups, more time between the major speeches.
                    Also, in hindsight, work together through an example outline and the rubric.


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