I’m spending increasing amounts of time at my computer, and I’m not particularly happy about it. On the days when my hands seem to be permanently glued to my keyboard and my eyes and brain are dulled by the glare on my monitor, I wonder how I can ever recommend to instructors that they try something new that involves technology. I suspect that instructors are also evaluating how much time and effort they are willing to put into aspects of their teaching that require more time logged in front of the screen.
But in the spirit of sharing here are two new ideas for teaching with technology that I would recommend faculty trying. Although they may keep us in front of the screen a bit longer, hopefully their value to students will make them worth while.
Using narrated screencasting of grading. Russell Stannard at University of London in the UK uses Camtasia to create short videos for students than are narrated screencasts of him marking their work. See A Whole New World of Studying. His students can watch as he “marks up” their work and listen to his commentary on why he has made corrections or changes. Having at least one piece of written work marked in this way is a terrific learning opportunity for students. I suspect that even watching an instructor mark one sample of someone else’s work could be valuable.
Using Turnitin to help students learn about citation and referencing in their written work. The plagiarism tool, Turnitin, is now available on campus through UW-ACE (see Scott Anderson’s blog posting from June 10th ). Giving students access to the tool so that they can check rough drafts can help students understand where they are going wrong with their use of quotations and citations. In her posting Using Turnitin as a Learning Tool – One Faculty Member’s Experience, Diane Bartoo of the University of Maryland University College describes how integrating a Turnitin activity into her course as a homework assignment helped students improve their citation skills in later writing assignments. I would recommend that an instructor address course expectations around citation style and the proper use of quotes before the students use Turnitin and that they show the class what an “originality report” looks like and means. I’d try it on a small class first – to iron out any initial issues with explaining to students how to use the tool and analyze the reports.
Is it possible that students will just learn to write to “fool the tool” and thus avoid plagiarism? It’s possible, but students already have access to many free, online plagiarism detection tools, so integrating the one we use on campus into a meaningful course activity would seem to make sense.