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Paper   V   Video – Student Assessment

By – Ian Simpson



How do you assess your students ? Are you happy with the feedback you give students ?



The traditional way of providing students with feedback is by providing them with a paper ( or, online version) “Report Card”. This normally includes either a percentage score or a grade. So, a student with a 90+% or A+ score might be classed as “Excellent” and one with a 10% or E score classed as a spanner !



We have all used these systems and I am sure many of you still do. For 20 years I worked as a high school teacher in both the UK and Australia. Three times a year I had to mark about about 500 tests and write 500 report cards for my students. For about 100 of these, an original comment always came to mind, but for the other 400, they were grey, with very little difference between them. Of course, all kids are different, but when you have 500 reports to write in the evenings, after school, you tend not to psycho analyze them too much !!



Teachers have a standing joke when faced with having to mark so many tests and write so many reports in non paid time. We say, “ I will stand at the top of the stairs, throw them down, and those that land highest up will get the best scores and comments ” ……. and I am sure some of my colleagues did this !



Still now, we use this antiquated system, although we sometimes give it some “bling” by disguising it in a spider or bar graph or some other computerized version. Fundamentally it’s the same, an A Grade relates to an appropriate “comment” from a comment bank and so on for B or 80% etc…..



This system inevitably leads to many students getting very similar report cards, because using this system “they are” similar, because of the limited options to distinguish them. Of course, at the bottom of the report card, we can write a personalized comment. Most teachers who have to write 500+ reports do this by creating a bank of their own “stock” comments and rotate them around for those 400 grey students, throwing in the occasional pearl of original wisdom !



Having used this kind of system for so many years myself, my question is :- “ what real value do parents and students get from this vaguely phrased word bank feedback ? “     Not a great feedback system, so why has it survived so long, because we have nothing better ??



WE DO have something better, its called “VIDEO FEEDBACK”



Ah,, video also takes time I hear you say ! But, not as long as writing and you can do it in lesson time and spread it over a period of time. But, not if you do it after a test I hear you say, – correct !! – But that’s another conversation for another blog. Are tests or exams really of any value ? The ability to memorize and regurgitate facts in order to get a meaningless “score”. And, to do that test “on your own” in silence !   Business is a team game that requires co-operation, communication and problem solving between members, are we really measuring this with school tests ? –   anyway stop …… I have diverged !!!!



Back to video analysis and assessment.



One of the powers of video is that it emotionalizes the feedback. Its “real” , no escape from your performance, good or bad. For kids, parents rarely get to see what their children do in school, with video feedback, they can. Video is not only useful for measuring or just showing performance, but also for promoting your school ( all of which are businesses by the way ) and showing other activities that go on in your thriving educational environment.



Where are we now technology wise ?



Now we can very easily stick a video camera in front of a student or class and “capture” performance   “on the fly” ( in real time). While capturing, the teacher is analyzing performance in “real time” by clicking designated keys on the key board to capture specific video clips as IMG_0108 required. Yes, I said capture in REAL TIME , wow, think of the time saving involved ( no editing required).



When finished, with the click of another button on the keyboard, your students video clips are auto edited together and with a final click SENT to the student ( or, mothers ) secure email cloudspace for viewing and storage .



In addition to this classroom scenario, if you teach ONLINE, you can do exactly the same thing, simply by capturing the skype window and carrying out “Live” analysis and feedback.



Pretty clever yes. So, why aren`t more us moving in this direction ?



I hope this blog post will help you to look outside the box and see the infinite feedback options the information age affords us.



I look forward to your comments and if you have any questions for me, please ask. If you would like to contact directly, you can do so on :- email –



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