Giving Descriptive Feedback with Screencasts and Google Analytics

How do teachers know students are using the feedback we give them? This is THE question that many teachers struggle with (and pull their hair out over) when hours of work is spent grading essays, labs with annotation and notes with the occasional student not making suggested edits, forcing you to mention it AGAIN.

This pattern may seem familiar to the English, Social Studies or Science teacher and one wonders if there is a more efficient way of giving students feedback to guide their learning. Talking can be done faster than writing, so it's no wonder teachers are starting to use tools like Kaizena and Doctopus to breeze through giving oral feedback on a piece of digital writing. The hangup I've always had with voice over comments is that sometimes they may not be linked to a very specific section of text like a sentence or paragraph, so screencasts can come in very handy here as you can highlight sections visually.

The Screencastify Extension on Google Chrome

Screencasts as Feedback
I recently saw a very creative way of using Screencasts to do this. Typically, screencasts are used to create user "how to guides" although the way one teacher taught me to use them is with Screencastify which allows for easy uploads to youtube. Although "Quicktime" does the same, I think Screencastify does this easier with giving easier options to make videos "unlisted". After giving feedback through a screencast, a teacher can post a comment as the unlisted Youtube URL.

What an "Unlisted" Video Is
Unlisted videos can't be searched for, but can show up on playlists. From a general education teacher this is nice, as you can upload the video to your domains youtube playlist but the catch is that by putting the video link as a comment on a Google Doc, only the student that has access to the document can access the link.

A snapshot of uploaded screencast from the "youtube" video manager page.


"Checking" for Student Viewing
Here's where it gets cool. Looking at the playlist I can tell which students have watched their videos and which ones haven't. This is nice as I might need to provide some time in the beginning of class to some students who have not taken the time to look and listen to these comments and the analytics page shows watch time. When students have "taken in" the lessons provided, you can delete the video from the Video Manager.

Looking above, I know which watched the feedback I have provided for them. 

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