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'Ignore your inhibitions and try that tool!' - Femke van Esch (USG)

Femke van Esch

The search for a convenient way to weave peer feedback into her courses and the move to (entirely) online education led Femke van Esch (USG), via Educate-it, to the Peer Review tool from FeedbackFruits. How does she apply this tool and what are the benefits?

With Peer Review from FeedbackFruits students can give each other online feedback on an assignment in a structured way. In the past, I worked with groups within Blackboard. This required coordination and sometimes led to errors. Peer Review, a plugin for Blackboard, takes a lot of work out of your hands. I can easily prepare the (individual or group) assignment. The program then automatically assigns the paper(s) from one group to another.

Click & Collect
Students upload their work in FeedbackFruits, which is linked to Blackboard, an environment they already work in anyway. Students then provide feedback to each other by posting their comments to the appropriate sentence/paragraph or by including all feedback on the cover sheet of the paper. Students immediately see the comments they receive and can respond back to them as desired. As a teacher you can respond to the feedback that has been given. Through the program you can see who did what and you can easily set or extend deadlines for the assignments. Very flexible and practical!

I was keen to try out FeedbackFruits Peer Review as part of the 'EU, by and for the people' course, but at a time when online education means you have to learn a lot of new things, I thought to myself 'pfff, yet another new thing'. Fortunately the application and set-up of the tool via Educate-it went very smoothly. 

The program works very intuitively, but it can be useful - especially the first time - to read the manual carefully. I didn't know, for example, that all the students had to be logged in once before the groups could be assigned. For other questions, I received a quick response via chat using the help button in the tool.

No complaints
In the evaluation, my students were positive about the (peer) feedback process, but did not explicitly say anything about the tool itself. In itself, that says a lot: if they don't grumble, it works well! (laughs). In my opinion, the peer feedback method does indeed work well! Students focus on the comments of others, which they can work with. What they often don't realize is that they learn a lot from giving feedback. Reading other papers leads to an improvement in their own work.

FeedbackFruits Peer Review is also very transparent. After all, students can also see other people's feedback on each other's papers. In this way, he or she learns more about how to give good feedback. Whether all of this translates directly into higher grades I dare not say, but my students all finished their course with a nice grade.

Tools of the future
Besides Peer Review, I work with Remindo for digital testing. A fantastic program! Checking via Remindo works so much better than checking on paper. I've also been working for some time with online simulations within my teaching through Icons, a platform developed by the University of Maryland (and not currently supported by Educate-it). Students are presented with a scenario in the online system (for example, a nuclear disaster) and work on the case in groups, under the flag of a particular country. Very instructive and it actively engages students throughout the course in a fun way! It would be nice to develop such a platform ourselves where we can post content.

I like to look around me for fun ways to improve education with tools. I see plenty of opportunities. User-friendliness is paramount, however, otherwise people simply won't use it. Although you sometimes have to get over the initial barrier of 'something new', the right tool can be of great added value within your education. Try it out!

Do you want to get started with Peer Review from FeedbackFruits? You can find all information about this tool and the associated contact details in the Educate-it Tool Guide.