Molly Wright Starkweather, Tutor, Kaplan University Writing Center
Leveraging video technology for asynchronous tutoring in writing across the curriculum can be an exciting prospect, especially for online writing centers. All of a sudden, there are free software programs like Jing or even free screencasting web sites like Screencast-o-matic that use a Java applet, creating many opportunities to go over a student’s paper with the benefit of audio and visual feedback. At first, it seems a straightforward process, starting with making comments on the paper (using MS Word’s Comment function, not Track Changes), then recording a video going through those comments and talking about them to students so that they hear your reassuring tone of voice coaching them and encouraging them to improve their writing, and finally sending the video and the paper with comments back to the student. Once a tutor has mastered this process, he or she can further improve the process by following these three tips for video paper reviews:
- Share comments in the order you want, not from beginning to end. Sometimes a Higher Order Concern like a thesis statement issue, a misplaced paragraph, or a pattern of missing citations for outside sources will fall among Lower Order Concerns like a pattern of comma splices or a mistake on the title page. Address comments in order of their importance as a way of giving students a sort of to do list to prioritize their revision.
- Show students resources they can use and visit those resources during your video reviews. By actually “walking” students to a resource, you can highlight specific parts of a resource that apply to a paper. Face to face tutoring sessions allow students to ask questions about a handout, but videos do not, so anticipate what a student will want to know about how to use a resource, especially if it involves something like a checklist or a table of contents/an index with items to look up.
- Model corrections with video technology. If there is a pattern of grammatical error, like a comma splice, you can use the screencast video to correct one of the comma splices in the video and then hit “undo” on the document to return the mistake, allowing students to have a custom-made correction video to watch while they make a correction. The same technique can be used to demonstrate possible major changes to a paper, such as moving a sentence or whole paragraph from one part of the paper to another. By hitting “undo” and reminding the student that you are offering an option, the student can assume the writing power and make the actual changes to the paper on his or her own.
By following these top three tips, tutors can create more dynamic, effective video reviews. Students will be more likely to envision a to do list with priorities ranging from most important to least important when they see a review that moves from global to local concerns. They will also be more likely to actually visit the resources listed in their comments when they see what that resource looks like and how specifically it can help. Finally, student writers will feel more confident making one big change or several smaller corrections when they see it modeled, undone, and handed back to them. What are some top tips that you have for when you create video feedback for student writers?