In this section, Felice Frankel shares how her teaching team used VoiceThread and rubrics to provide MOOC participants with meaningful feedback.
We used a cloud application called VoiceThread, which allows users to create verbal comments in response to uploaded images, to provide students in the MOOC with feedback about their work. People from all over the world talked to each other. It was fantastic.
We slotted students into groups to make the feedback conversations more manageable. We learned, as we went along, that there tends to be a lot of attrition in MOOCS. To accommodate for attrition, I recommend that initial group sizes be relatively large (about 100).
Teaching assistants floated around the groups to comment on student work. It was very important to have people from the teaching team providing feedback. Occasionally, I would also provide feedback because I was curious to know how students were doing. With about 1,200 active students, it was ridiculously time consuming. But I stayed involved because I could tell students were excited to hear from me.
Because the course had so many active students, we also created a group of community teaching assistants. We identified a few participants who gave really good comments in VoiceThread and asked them to provide their peers across the groups with feedback. It was terrific. The community teaching assistants felt a sense of ownership in the course and enriched the learning experience for others.
We used rubrics in the MOOC to assess students’ submissions because the teaching assistants and the rest of the team didn’t know photography like I know it. They needed a guide for making the right kinds of comments on student work. They had to know what constituted a good picture. It was good for me to develop the rubrics because I had to really think about and articulate the criteria that define effective images. Once I had defined the criteria, the teaching assistants and I talked through them because they had to understand why I had identified particular elements as essential. It was very much a conversation.