One of the positive legacies which the Covid-19 pandemic has left, is the increased use of digital technologies to provide focused feedback to students. Prior to the successive lockdowns, the use of digital technologies when it came to feedback was relatively unheard of. Now all that has changed.
Many schools have embraced digital tools in a more proactive way than previously. I know in my own school, teachers are using the ‘assignments’ feature of Teams to create, send and gather assignments digitally. Not only that, but the ability to return an assignment ‘for revision’ has been a hugely positive development for the platform. Now teachers and students can use this feature to prepare, for example, their CBA (Classroom Based Assessments) for Junior Cycle, pieces of portfolio work for Leaving Cert and have a track of their progress through their work.
I find the ability to return work to students with focused feedback has definitely led to an improvement in their learning outcomes. Students can see my digitally handwritten notes on their work, or listen to my audio feedback, or read my typed comments and can then respond to me with a revised piece of work. If students know what is needed to improve by virtue of having specific feedback, it allows them to work towards improving their performance.
In addition, the fact that digital feedback is private and personal to that student it has positive implications for the student-teacher relationship. I have found that students who may be reluctant to discuss something during class time are more open to discussion via the digital platform. If technology can make life easier for the less vocal student, or indeed for students who have health issues and are absent frequently, so much the better.
It is up to us as educators to ensure we embrace digital technology’s potential in order to improve our students’ success. Whether that means we need to roll out further CPD to staff, or if it means we simply need to start a discussion in our virtual staff meetings in order to allow staff appreciate the benefits of using these digital tools, then we should do so. Sooner rather than later.