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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Thursday, 11 Dec 2014, 12:09

The MOOC model for assessment is that the students do this.

The cohort of 'writers' on the Start Writing Fiction MOOC in its 7th week is probably around the 1400 mark. Of these, let's say 1000 submit their 1000 word piece for assessment. Each of these takes between 1/2 and 1 hour to read, re-read and assess across three criteria. I find a well-written piece with some flaws takes half an hour, an excellent pieces takes ten minutes while a piece that is a difficult read, misses most points taught over the last 7 weeks or simply fails to answer the brief can take an hour. Am i getting that wrong? Am I trying too hard to make up for a student's failure to grasp much or anything at all over the preceding weeks? Perhaps the answer is to seek out some positives: getting this far, the idea behind the writing, a line or phrase ... and leave off either picking through all the problems or offering a summary of all the points they have clearly not got, or simply skipped over the previous weeks.

Not a tutor or AL, though I've had a dozen, this is quite an eye-opener. Good feedback takes time to think through and then to deliver.

The tips on how to give feedback on FutureLearn are succinct. I learnt a technique in sports coaching: sandwiching praise with constructive feedback. This is all well and good. The problem is where it is a huge struggle to find something to praise. Not possible on the FutureLearn platform, my preference I see now, with a couple of the 36+ reviews I've now done of fellow students, is to leave the toughest ones for 24 even for 48 hours. At least then you may get a sense of where the person was coming from and how you speak to them if you had them over for a coffee rather than writing in the quasi-anonymous tone of randomly selected fellow reviewer.

Not easy, but from a student's point of view you have to learn how to take feedback. Occasionally you have have to stand you ground. A couple of times, not ever with The OU, I have taken issue with feedback and a grade and on review it is found that the reader/tutor could not have taken adequate care: posting a set of generic responses on a point missed or references, or saying the essay needed X and Y when, in my case X and Y were introduced in the introduction, covered in the main body of the assignment and mentioned in the conclusion - something I had to do when I was a point off a distinction. 

It will be a new skill for students to become assessor, and a new world for academics to allow students to so boldly enter their domain, but a necessary one if we are to 'educate the world'.


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It took me a year ... no longer, 18 months. Even longer than that, two years, to recognise what it took to get consistently high marks.

I couldn't fathom what people were doing.

Is it a formula? Or just application? Is there a method? Whatever it takes until you feel confident you know what is going on ... so read, read again, ask questions. Then going and read something else. Disagree, agree ... sleep on it. Then, ever so slowly it starts to dawn on you. This is what they are on about. I am prone to read well beyond the listed resources though, picking through papers until I find the one that speaks to me - the voice that expresses it in a way that has ressonance. And I am prone, within reason, to get the book that is cited in a paper I like ... so a collection of second handbooks under the table and a larger collection of eBooks. eBooks I read faster, highlight and take notes as I go along, then migrate notes and quotes into a Google Doc. I kid myself when I have a lot to read that it is different on the Kindle, the iPad or on the TV size screen that is ... well the TV (but my computer too).

A couple of weeks ago I took the TV and put it in the shed. One of those things the size of a pedal car.

No one misses it.

Everyone is on a screen elsewhere in the house. We stream movies. We use BBC iPlayer.

I don't miss clicking between channels looking for something to watch, finding nothing much but glued to the thing for a few things all the same.



That's the way to do Medieval!

A week away in April and I still haven't recovered my old rhythmn. Nor will I. Instead of bloggin I have every conceivable thing to sort out with the house and garden. Somehow both were abandoned for three years - I wonder why that was?

The lawn was so bad I needed an industrial strimmer. The lawnmower I bought in 2007 is still in its original packaging in the shed.

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Here's an idea - review and grade reports

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 1 Oct 2010, 12:44

Here's an idea.

I'd like to see a 'review grade' recommends star system on all the resources we're invited to read, whether they are a must read or supplementary.

Whilst it is a skill to skim read something before giving it your all, I'd like to have a second, third or fourth opinion. Or just a fellow student indicating, 'don't bother,' or just as useful, 'don't miss this one out.'

Too often I have got stuck into a report only to find I wish I hadn't, either I'm not ready for it, or someone else says it better.

On the resources on 'Reflection' (H808) I feel I came in as an MA student on a topic that in one context I understood, but in relation to its use in academic study I did not. The 'heavier' text simply wound me up. Then I got the RLO from the University of Central London. Simple.

Something happened. What happened? So what? What next?

See, I can even remember it.

Though required for H807 I don't recall it being emboddied in the module. Were too many of us left to flounder? Or allowed to flounder?

Moon, Creme and all the rest embed this simple message in so much learning theory and psychology that the only thing they needed to communicate got lost. It assumes previous knowledge.

Go back to Kolb, rather than tacking on ifs and buts and provisos, or invent your own 'cycle of reflection.' I want to read Dewey. The book, hardback. From a second hand book shop. In my hand. With a former teacher's pecilled in notes.

I've come across a system that is simpler than any of the above.

You ask the question 'what is the problem?' over and over and over again.

By the time you have answered this six times you may be surprised at the truth it reveals, the real problem that on fixing resolves everything else.

Reflection that produces an outcome, or simply a dog chasing its tail?


(in due course, I think I've drawn on the thinking of a dozen above).

Imagine if we had to reference everything we said in a conversation at a cocktail party? Or in the pub? I feel a sketch coming along. I wonder if I could get Mel Smith and Rhys Grifth-Jones back together to do one of their head to heads? You know, over the table, resting on their elbows, deliberating. But whenever they say something that requires a Harvard Style reference they must give it. Try that as they have first one, then a second or a third pint of Harvey's ale.

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