I have been teaching online for a number of years now and have toyed with video grading in the past. I hadn't adopted it because it took so much time. I would read the essay or outline, type up comments, and then record the video. Inevitably, I made some mistakes, so I would end up spending time editing in Camtasia. After a few videos, I gave up and would only record comments for those essays that needed serious help. Now, however, I video grade nearly exclusively. The following are the reasons why:

  1. Students love it. I get so many comments from students explaining how they loved the video. They understand my comments and it helps them see what's wrong with the essay and not just read my comments. They are also more likely to view the comments if their in video feedback, and now they're emailing me back to say thank you. I used to never get comments from students after grading (except to complain if they got a low grade); it was shocking when I received my first "thank you for the video" comment. It's positive reinforcement!

  2. Jing makes it faster. Jing, free video capture from Techsmith, makes it faster and easier to record and share video. Jing records up to 5 minutes. This forces me to limit my comments to the most important. I open the document through GradeMark® (iParadigm), read through the essay, post a few comments, and then start the video. If there are major problems with the formatting, I'll download the document and as part of the video, I'll demonstrate how to fix the formatting. I could also make a separate recording if I need to, but I try to stick to the 5-minute mark. The recording bar in Jing turns red when there's one minute left, so it's easy to tell if I need to wrap it up.

  3. Perfection is overrated. I still make some mistakes when recording, but I decided that it was okay to make some mistakes...as long as they're not too bad. If they're bad, then I'll simply start over. Otherwise, I don't stress over it. One student commented that he liked some of the "ums" and pauses in my videos. "It shows you get frustrated with technology, too, and that makes me feel better," he said. It's okay to let our students see our human side.

  4. Videos create community. Online students often comment that they feel distant from their online instructors. This is understandable when they don't see each other face to face; however, creating an online community is important for student success and retention. Video helps create a connection between the student and instructor by providing a sense of personality through the voice. Video can also demonstrate how you grade, so students understand the process more clearly.

  5. It's effective. The old adage of fiction, "Show, don't tell," applies in teaching, too. Students learn better if they are shown how to correct something rather than being told to correct it. If I can demonstrate via video how to correct sentence fragments, citations, or simple document formatting, they are more likely to adopt those corrections in their next essay. Now, I don't have any research evidence on this yet, but I will be conducting an informal study this semester and I will post the results here. However, anecdotally, I am convinced their essays have improved.

Now that you're convinced how video grading helps, I suspect you're asking how to do it. First of all, you need the following:

  • Grading tool. I use GradeMark®; however, you can also use the "track changes" method in Word or other word processing programs.

  • Microphone. You'll need to hook up a microphone on your computer. I like to use headphones as well because it helps filter out background noise.

  • Video screencapture. Jing is one of the best tools out there for educators. It's cheap (free for basic service), easy to use, and fast. Of course, if you have Camtasia or Captivate, then these will work, too. One reason I prefer Jing is because the recording time is limited to 5 minutes. I tend to ramble, so Jing forces me to be brief and focus on the main points.

  • Video sharing method. Personally, I use Screencast. Some storage comes with Jing, but you can also purchase your own subscription. There are other video sharing websites out there, like photobucket, shutterfly, dropshots, youtube, and so on...but Screencast won't require the viewer to sign up and it creates a simple URL for viewing. Jing automatically creates a Screencast link as well, so sharing becomes a breeze. I have attempted to upload a video file, but it hasn't worked well for me and it turned into a hassle, so I recommend a video sharing site.

With these resources, you should be ready to begin video grading. Simply read through the essay once and then start the video when you're ready to comment. Once the video is complete, upload it to Screencast.com, email the student the link, and you're ready to go on to the next! It's that easy.

It might take a little bit of time at first, but with practice, you'll find that it's much faster than typing or handwriting, and you'll find your students thanking you for the feedback.

Good luck and let me know how it goes for you!

Comments (5)

On April 1, 2010 at 5:29 PM , Maria H. Andersen said...

Nice post Keri! I can see that you're hitting your stride now. :)

On April 1, 2010 at 5:33 PM , SG said...

Thanks, Maria! :)

On April 1, 2010 at 5:41 PM , Robert Talbert said...

A colleague of mine has been doing this with proofs in his Discrete Math course this semester, and students love it. So I started doing it too for an intro-level computer science course that involves some programming. It's really effective for grading computer programs, since I can point to the students' code while I comment, run the code and let them see errors that come up, and then correct it on the fly. Definitely will be doing more of this in the future.

On April 6, 2010 at 5:30 PM , KB said...

Some colleagues have asked me if this is too much hand-holding. Does this remove the responsibility of the student to read our comments? I don't think so. On the contrary, I think it encourages them to read the comments as well as listen to them.

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