In a world where our students are increasingly attached to their devices.. It can sometimes seem frustrating to get the amount of focus required to produce meaningful reflective comments to meet the requirements of the assessment criteria.
As a result of a period of research with different levels of students during my MA, it seems that there are numerous reasons for students being relluctant annotators. Most of these you will recognise in your own students:
“I don’t want to mess my sketchbook up with my untidy writing”
“I hate handwriting because I can’t spell well.”
“I need to be in the mood for writing.”
“I like to type up my written work at home” (which in my experience.. never gets done in a timely manner and results in out of date comments!)
Rather than tell the long version of the other results findings.. in a nutshell, the ways that our students reflect on their everyday situations is something that we can learn from when planning their assessment work.
Tapping into this teenage need to share thoughts with the world social media has proved to be a spark of genius in getting my students writing.
Using the WordPress app on whatever handheld device they have has allowed timely and interactive reflections to be completed in the classroom environment. The inclusion of instant snapshots of the work in progress with supporting typed comments reflects their familiar comfort zone of instagram/snapchat etc. My groups have made the blogs work for them. They have used their phones, tablets, laptops and the college desktop computers as well depending on what format they feel most comfortable with.
As you’d imagine, there are obviously ground rules for such uses of online blogs within their coursework. To support them in making a positive use of this interactive tool there is an exemplar blog site to act as a WAGOLL for their blog layout, contents and written structure.
In my experience it engages the students in their written work and ensures that reflections are meaningful and within their comfort zone with the use of spellcheck etc. Available before reflections are published. As a tutor, it makes assessing the work a lot easier. If your students have good blogging habits and reflect regularly with visual images to support their comments, the work can easily be checked by you without the student or their work being there… no need for dragging huge bags of sketchbooks home all of the time or taking the work off the students so that you can check their progress.
Encouraging the use of a blog for coursework reflections establishes positive habits for further study as well as making students more aware of their own identity as a creative professional at the start of their development into the design world.
If you are keen to give it a go, why not have a look at the ‘support for tutors’ page on the creative online portfolio example link above?