IU IST P540 - Media Accumulation Paper

 

Media Accumulation and Review: Feedback Tools

Submitted By: Jennifer Maddrell

 

Reflection Paper #1

IU P540 – Spring 2006

Instructor: Bonk

 

 

Feedback within Learning Theory: Feedback is an important element of many learning theories, as presented in Marcy P. Driscoll’s Psychology of Learning for Instruction (Third Edition). In Chapter 2, Driscoll presents Behaviorist theories regarding reinforcement as a means to either promote or change behavior. Within a learning setting, teacher feedback provides this reinforcement. In Chapter 9, Bandura’s concept of Verbal Persuasion (such as appraisal in the form of teacher feedback) and how it influences a student’s self-efficacy beliefs is presented. In Chapter 9, the need for feedback in building student confidence to stimulate motivation is discussed. In Chapter 10, Gagne’s Nine Events of Instruction includes Event 7: Providing Feedback. Given the importance of feedback in these learning theories and others, this media accumulation and review focuses on teacher feedback tools.

 

Feedback Tools: This media review highlights tools that provide feedback options in an online or distance learning setting (such as in P540) where the teacher and student lack face to face interaction. While there are many commercially available (fee based) options, the focus of this media accumulation and review is to highlight tools that either are free of cost to the user or are part of common applications that most schools or businesses regularly provide to students and employees. The list of media at the end of the review provides a teacher job aid with product descriptions and URL hyperlinks for more information about the tools. These free (or low cost) technologies enable teachers to create feedback, share resources and collaboratively edit and review student’s work.

 

Review Criteria: This media review focuses on: (1) the characteristics of the feedback tools, (2) the file storage options for shared access, and (3) collaboration capabilities, as described below:

 

·

Recording and Editing Tools: Tools to record and edit feedback content come in two primary forms:

1.

Desktop based, and

2.

Web (or browser) based.

 

Desktop based applications must be downloaded and installed on the user’s desktop. While desktop applications often provide a wealth of features and the stability to run these large applications, issues of administration rights (in situations where only system administrators can install “approved” software) and operating system compatibility (Windows, OSX, Linux) are important considerations. In addition, when using desktop applications, the teacher and student must address both file storage for shared access and collaboration in separate applications (as discussed below).

 

In contrast, Web (or browser) based applications are rarely operating system specific. Rather, the application is hosted on a third party Web server and is accessed via the user’s browser. Therefore, the teacher and student only have access to the application when they are logged onto the Internet. Such applications are becoming increasingly available, often at no cost to the user. Depending on the application, feedback content can be in written, audio or visual (still picture or video) form. While Web based applications provide other benefits (such as file storage and collaboration tools addressed below), users lack ownership control of the application. In addition, a high speed internet connection is often needed in order to utilize some of the application’s features.

 

·

File Storage (for shared access): Once the content is recorded and edited, storage of the content for shared access between the student and the teacher is needed. While storage options are available in fee based Web hosting services, the focus of this review is on the options available at no cost to the user. Issues such as security, storage space, joint access and acceptable file formats are important considerations. While ample free file storage is available from third party hosts on the Internet (for example, 2G or more of space is available for free by many e-mail providers), the user must consider the future availability of the service and keep a backup copy of all important content. Unfortunately, it is a reality that third party internet services that were here in the past are gone today.

·

Collaboration: Beyond storage for shared viewing, there are other collaboration considerations. Collaboration options, such as who can access the document and who can add comments, are important when evaluating feedback tool options. While it is possible to forward files back and forth via a static platform (such as e-mail), there are also alternatives that allow more immediate and direct teacher feedback in the form of comments to the original content. Several newer Web based applications allow teachers to collaborate directly on the same project, often at the same time. In addition, new tools allow for increased collaboration via “syndication” which means that the teacher and student can be informed about changes made to the content via RSS / XML / Atom feeds.

 

Desktop-Based Applications:

·

Desktop Word Processing: While the standard writing and editing capabilities of desktop word processing applications are well known, there are also many valuable (yet lesser used) tools to provide targeted feedback within a student’s written document. A key advantage of using a traditional desktop work processing application to provide feedback is ease of use. Most teachers and students have access to a desktop word processor and have a working knowledge of how to use the application. In addition, most applications save the document in a standard file format that many different applications can open. A disadvantage is that the document must be stored elsewhere for shared access and future collaboration. However, when paired with some of the Web based applications shown below, the desktop word processing application becomes a very powerful feedback tool.

 

The following highlights some standard desktop word processor features that allow targeted teacher feedback within the student’s document:

Þ

Comments: Inserting teacher comments into a document provides targeted feedback to the student’s work. The comments can be placed directly within a specific section of the document in written (sometimes audio) formats.

Þ

Markup Tools: Markup tools, such as the highlight or draw features, allow a teacher to visually reference areas for review and feedback.

Þ

Insert Object or File: Some feedback is best provided in an audio or visual format. By inserting or linking to a picture, chart, graph or other content from a different file, a teacher can visually or aurally communicate feedback.

Þ

Screen Capture: The “print screen” feature provides an opportunity for the teacher to capture an image on his or her computer screen and paste it directly into the student’s document. This feature allows the teacher to share visual feedback that might otherwise be shared in a traditional face to face conversation.

Þ

Hyperlinks: The “insert hyperlink” feature allows the teacher to link directly to other information sources on the Internet. Such feedback is useful when the teacher needs to direct students to examples or additional resources.

Þ

Acknowledgement (Sign-Off): Feedback does not always need to be elaborate or detailed. Many applications have simple acknowledgement or sign-off features that can be used in situations where quick teacher review and feedback is needed. In most cases, the acknowledgement can be signed and dated.

 

·

Desktop Audio / Visual Recording and Editing Tools: Providing audio or visual feedback is becoming easier as technology advances.

Þ

Audio: Since most computers and laptops now include microphones and sound cards, a teacher can use a desktop audio recording applications to record feedback on student’s work and save it for playback either on a computer or on a handheld device, such as an iPod. Audio feedback is especially helpful in Language classes. In addition, recording audio feedback can be faster than typing and provides feedback that more closely resembles face to face lecture.

Þ

Visual: Still and video images can express certain types of feedback (such as in an Art course) far better than written feedback alone. The process of recording still or video images is more difficult than recording audio files, the input devices are more expensive, the file sizes are much larger to transfer and the editing is more labor intensive. However, a low resolution Web camera can be purchased for less than $50 that captures both still and video images, as well as sound. The benefits of more detailed and expressive feedback may outweigh the obstacles depending on the circumstances.

 

Web Based Applications:

While the feedback tools above are accessed via desktop applications, there are many available Web based feedback tools, including:

·

Web Communication Tools:

Þ

Web Based E-mail: E-mail has become a standard feedback and communication tool in many learning environments, including online and distance education. The most exciting aspect of Web based e-mail is the amount of file storage that is now available at no charge to the user. The file storage and bandwidth capabilities allow transfer of written files, as well as larger audio and video files. The primary advantages of utilizing e-mail as a feedback tool are availability and ease of use, as well as the ability for teachers and students to maintain the history of past correspondence. The downside of e-mail is that the communication is not real-time leaving a lag between teacher and student messages.

Þ

Group Forum / Discussion Boards: Like e-mail, Group Forums and Discussion Boards are common learning technologies. The key feature of these sites is the ability for multiple users to create, store and share content on a single platform. However, like e-mail, the collaboration is not in real time.

Þ

Chat / Instant Messaging (IM): While IM or Chat features are more widely regarded as social networking tools, they also provide a teacher the opportunity to provide student feedback in a real time setting. Many IM platforms offer free written, audio and visual feedback options with “history” capabilities that save the conversation for future viewing. Further, many types of file formats can be uploaded and transferred (but not stored) during the live setting. In addition, multiple users can simultaneously join the live conversation. However, most IM clients do require a small software application download that may be a problem in some tightly controlled networks.

Þ

Voice Over IP (VoIP) or Telephony: While Voice Over IP technologies were based on real time Web enabled audio chats, the features are expanding daily to include other features, including video. The advantage of these technologies is the ability for the teacher and student to communicate in real time. Most providers offer basic “talk” features provided at no cost. However, as with IM clients, most VoIP applications require a software download in order to use the service.

Þ

Web Meetings: Live Web meetings allow real time streaming of audio and video with other chat features. Most include the ability to share (and possibly jointly edit) applications in a shared screen. While most Web meeting technologies are commercial and fee based, there are free (or trial use) options available. A software download is also usually required.

·

Personal Web Pages: Personal Web Pages take many forms. However, most have the ability for: (a) the student to create original content, (b) the teacher (as reviewer) to add comments (c) and Web syndication (such as RSS / XML feeds) which allows the teacher and student to know when content updates have been made. Personal Web Page applications are abundant on the internet and many offer extensive features and storage options at no cost. The following are the primary types.

Þ

Writing / Editing Tools: A “Wiki” is a term used to describe a Web based collaborative writing and editing tool in which students and teachers can write and edit a document, together and in real-time. Wikis often share some common features with traditional desk top applications (such as formatting options and spell check) and may allow integration with desktop word processors via file upload / download. In contrast, “Blogs” are typically not as feature rich in terms of content creation. They are used primarily as journals to add reflective content (via written, audio or video posts) which teachers can respond to in the form of a comment to the student’s post. While Wikis are often described in similar terms as Blogs, most consider a distinguishing characteristic to be that Blogs generally do not accommodate multi-person content collaboration.

Þ

Podcast Hosts: This category refers to Web based applications that allow for the creation, storage and sharing of audio (and recently, video) content. However, these sites often also accommodate Blog-like written posts. While this creates a blurred line with traditional Blogs, these sites are primarily devoted to audio and video content. The term “Podcast” remains a popular term to describe these hosts, but it is not necessary to use an iPod as content can be retrieved and played back on a computer. These Web based tools are new and can be unstable, yet they provide teachers with a relatively easy solution to create and share audio feedback.

Þ

Photo Storage Sites: Photo storage sites allow teachers and students to upload or download digital photos and graphics, share visual content with others and provide feedback as “comment” posts. While significant storage is available at no cost, most providers offer unlimited storage for less than $25 per year.

·

Personal Web Journals / Personal Learning Environments: Loosely grouped in this category are a new hybrid of Web communication tools and personal Web pages. Typically, they include a combination of content creation, file storage and real time sharing features on a single access point. They provide users with rich collaboration and communication tools with the benefit of all content accessed and stored on one site. Some educators are finding that these all-in-one personal Web journals make viable Personal Learning Environments (see Elgg below).



 

 

Product URL Links

Content

Key

Strengths

Key

Weaknesses

“Live”

Feedback

RSS / XML

Cost

Other Comments / Learning Curve

1: Easy 2:

Desktop Word Processing:

a.

Microsoft Office

b.

Word Perfect

c.

iWork

d.

Open Office

e.

Adobe Acrobat

·

Written

·

Audio (attach / link)

·

Visual (attach / link)

·

Tools contain numerous options to create and edit written documents

·

Teacher feedback capabilities are extensive

·

Ability to link and / or attach audio and video files or URL hyperlinks

·

Inability to collaborate in real time

·

Files must be stored for joint access and shared on separate platform making collaboration more disjointed than Web based tools

no

no

a.

$150 edu*

b.

$99 edu*

c.

$49 edu

d.

Free

e.

$159 edu

·

edu: Discounted education version -*free to IU users

·

Open Office is an Open Source (and free) alternative to commercial products.

·

While Adobe Acrobat is fee based, Acrobat Reader is free (for viewing)

·

Adobe .pdf format is viewable in Web browsers across most operating systems

Desktop Audio:

a.

Audacity.com

Desktop Audio / Visual:

b.

iLife (Mac)

c.

Windows Movie Maker (PC)

·

Written

·

Audio

·

Visual

·

Simple, yet rich, content creation tools

·

Audio and visual allows for expanded feedback options

·

Inability to collaborate in real time

·

Audio and visual file capture and editing can be more labor intensive that written

no

no

a.

Free

b.

$59 (edu)

c.

Free

·

The advantage of the desktop tools over Web based alternatives is enhanced content creation and editing functionality

·

Tends to have higher application learning curve

Web E-mail:

a.

Yahoo!

b.

Gmail

c.

Aol

·

Written

·

Audio (attach / link)

·

Visual (attach / link)

·

Availability

·

Ease of use

·

Large storage capacity

·

Inability to collaborate in real time.

·

Difficult to track “reply” comments and feedback within a large group

no

no

Free

·

While other options may have more functionality, the availability and ease of use make e-mail a popular feedback tool

·

Large free storage capacity is available – usually at least 2G for free

Group Forum / Discussion Board:

a.

Yahoo! Groups

b.

Google Groups

Other Hosted Examples

·

Written

·

Audio (attach / link)

·

Visual (attach / link)

·

Works well with groups of students

·

Central place to share ideas in a post / feedback format

·

Typically all users have ability to add new posts and comment on other posts

·

Inability to edit documents or posts made by others

·

Typically, a structured format to post and view favoring short content

no

yes

Free

·

Most forums allow groups to limit membership / restrict access, if desired

·

Content creation options are more limited than other alternatives



 

Product Links

Content

Key

Strengths

Key

Weaknesses

“Live”

Feedback

RSS / XML

Cost

Other Comments / Learning Curve

1: Easy 2:

Instant Messaging:

·

Proprietary:

a.

AIM

b.

ICQ

c.

Yahoo!

d.

MSN

·

3rd Party Consolidator:

a.

Trillian (Windows)

b.

Gaim (All)

c.

iChat (Mac)

·

Written (live)

·

Audio (live)

·

Visual (live)

·

Real time collaboration

·

There are additional third party applications, such as Trillian or Gaim, that consolidate various IM platforms under one viewer

·

Networks may block

·

Very basic written content creation options

·

While there are many free IM alternatives, most are not set up to allow inter-platform compatibility

yes

no

Free

·

While IM does not enable storage of content, it is an excellent immediate (real time) collaboration tool

·

There are additional third party applications, such as Trillion or Gaim, that consolidate various IM platforms under one viewer

·

Most require a software download, so platform compatibility and network blocking may be an issue

VoIP / Telephony:

a.

Gizmo

b.

Skype

c.

Google Talk

·

Voice

·

Written

·

Similar to IM dedicated to voice

·

Supports voicemail and conference features

·

Record conversations

·

Requires download of application to desktop

·

Proprietary accounts making it difficult to “talk” cross platform

yes

no

Free

·

Most services allow call in or out using traditional phone on a fee basis

·

Proprietary nature of sign up is a negative, but will likely be overcome in the future (as with Trillian and Gaim with standard IM)

Web Meeting:

·

Ivisit

·

Written

·

Audio

·

Visual

·

Audio and video conferencing, including chat and file transfer in real time

·

Ability to share desktop and whiteboard

·

Requires download of application to desktop

·

Free version is limited to 8 participants

yes

no

Free

·

It is possible to save or record the session for download and storage

·

Provides closest experience to “face to face” conversations

·

An upgrade to a fee based product with more features is available

Non-Collaborative Web Based Writing Tools:

a.

Blogger

b.

EduBlog

·

Written

·

Audio (attach / link)

·

Visual (attach / link)

·

Works well for individual work (i.e. a learning journal)

·

Basic content creation is very simple

·

Comments can be made to original post

·

RSS syndication allows easy tracking of new and updated posts

·

Inability to jointly collaborate in real time

·

Typically only “owner” of Blog has ability to add or start a new topic

no

yes

Free

·

Not designed to allow for direct collaboration on the student’s source document

·

Traditional non-collaborative Blogs are not as feature rich as other Web based collaborative tools, such as Wikis



 

Product Links

Content

Key

Strengths

Key

Weaknesses

“Live”

Feedback

RSS / XML

Cost

Other Comments / Learning Curve

1: Easy 2:

Collaborative Web

Based Writing Tools:

a.

PB Wiki

b.

Writely.com

c.

Jotspot

d.

Writeboard

e.

Web Collaborator

·

Written

·

Audio (attach / link)

·

Visual (attach / link)

·

Feature rich, including content creation, editing, commenting, storage, cross platform compatibility

·

Real time collaboration and syndication

·

Content creation and editing not as strong as desktop applications

yes

yes

Free

·

Writely appears to be a strong contender in this category.

·

Most tools still in Beta testing stage, meaning system stability may be an issue

Podcast Host:

a.

Garageband.com

b.

Odeo.com

c.

Castpost.com

·

Audio

·

Simple interface to create, store and share audio (and sometimes video)

·

Sites provide XML code for podcast to allow RSS syndication

·

New technologies that may not always function properly.

no

yes

Free

·

Primary focus is audio creation, storage and collaboration

·

While these applications show a lot of promise, they are largely still in the development and testing stage

Photo Storage:

·

Flickr.com

·

Visual

·

Account set up and modest file storage is free

·

Multiple upload and post options

·

Interface with common Blog platforms

·

Still digital photos only

·

Fee for unlimited storage option

no

yes

Free

·

Great resource for “visual” driven topics, such as Art courses

·

Purchased by Yahoo! so likely future integration with other Yahoo! applications

Personal Web Journals:

a.

MySpace

b.

Elgg

c.

Yahoo! 360

·

Written

·

Audio (attach / link)

·

Visual (attach / link)

·

Works well for individual work (i.e. a online learning journal)

·

Variety of applications available (Blogs, Wikis, forums)

·

Central place to create, store and collaborate with others

·

Depending on application, may give others privilege to collaboratively edit source documents

·

Be aware that these sites can be here today, gone tomorrow

·

Risk in adding large amounts of content as site may “disappear” in the future

yes

yes

Free

·

Personal Web Journals are rapidly gaining in popularity as part of “Social Networks”

·

Collaboration is a key driver of the popularity

·

While current focus is on social aspect, use as a personal learning environment is also growing (i.e. Elgg)