Our first Australian Inspiration Day together with Deakin University and Griffith University was also the first one in the midst of a global pandemic. Despite being planned in Amsterdam, we were incredibly happy when our Australian partners proposed to have an online webinar. It was heartwarming to see that nothing can stop dedicated teachers and pedagogy professionals to come together to discuss the best ways to advance education through online, active learning.
Whilst it is impossible to convey the conference in its entirety through a blog post, we would like to share the best takeaways from this experience.
When Dr. Tiffany Gunning decided to improve teamwork among engineering students she received an interesting feedback: students thought it was useless. They wanted to become engineers, why “lose time” on teamwork?
Dr. Gunning changed her approach and started positioning the concept of teamwork in the list of must-haves skills in the workplace. This approach paid off and students started being more favorable towards group evaluation and peer reviews. Entering Feedbackfruits, Deakin University started to scale up the Peer Review tool to the whole faculty.
They were able to provide teachers and supervisors with accurate feedback on peer evaluation from students, as well as developing critical thinking in students through their engagement in self and peer evaluation.
“This experience taught us that students need to be included in the decisions of introducing concepts such as peer and self evaluation into their courses” said Dr. Gunning “to be able to maximise their engagement and achieve the best learning results”.
Using Feedbackfruits Interactive Document and Group Members Evaluation tools, Jess Co - lecturer in the Management Department at Monash University - was able to engage students in various ways. One of the best ways to engage students, for her, was to use comments and multiple choice questions using the Interactive Document tool. Those questions were built to associate real life examples with the content of the paper students had to read, in order to let them think critically about the content and evaluate it in comparison to a real world situation.
Also, using discussion prompts throughout the document proved to be a valuable tool to engage students in discussing questions or comments. “Students used this feature a lot” said Jess “It works even better than forums: students would not use those, but would use FeedbackFruits a lot instead!”.
To get the best from a pedagogical tool is not always easy. During this Inspiration Day, we were able to listen to some great suggestions from all presentations on how to present tools to students and what preliminary steps should be taken.
Kirsten Black, technology Enhanced Learning Designer for Victoria University, noted that Peer Learning strategies by using Feedbackfruits tools helped paramedic students to have a better understanding of their works, and improved professional behaviour - students care about what their peers think about how they completed their tasks, nudging them to better themselves. While Feedbackfruits, in the words of Kirsten Black, “proved very efficient”, here are some things to be mindful of:
Creating pedagogical tools that can work for different universities is no easy matter. John Liu, Digital Learning Fellow at the MITx, is an exemplary sample on how to use DoTank to create the tool teachers need for their specific course. John used the Dotank to develop a project to enhance student discussions that could satisfy the requirements he had set. This is how it worked:
Thanks to the Automated Feedback tool, students can receive just-in-time feedback. This increases the quality of students’ production, as they learn quicker from their mistakes. It also lowers feedback pressure for teachers and allows them to disengage from repetitive feedback, increasing the quality of feedback overall. Automated Feedback might be of low professional quality, but serves the purpose of guidance. Peer feedback is successively useful as a mid-professional feedback, to clear from repetitive feedback and leave teachers, with their higher professional feedback, free to help students improve their critical thinking.
We are extremely grateful for the occasion to talk with our Australian partners even during these peculiar times. It was amazing to see professors and experts coming together to share their knowledge and experiences - which you can find in full here. We look forward to the next Inspiration Day!