Friday, August 28, 2015

Doodlecast Pro: A Whiteboard App Perfect for Teacher Feedback

By Ed Tech Maniac, Darin Anderson
If you are like me, you love a good whiteboard and set of colorful markers. Like Picasso and a blank canvas, I see before me endless possibilities of words, shapes, and meaningless scribbles and diagrams (or highly meaningly, depending on the person taking it in).

Now that modern technology has entered the picture, the same concept has made its way onto iPads, tablets, and Chromebooks that, while not as messy or fulfilling as an Expo Masterpiece, provide opportunities for users to design, produce, and publish their creations to a wide audience.

Certainly, there are several whiteboard apps on the market, and they all provide nearly the same features and capabilities. However, there is one particular app that I came across recently that does something intriguing to me. As a Google Drive advocate and undying supporter, I am always on the lookout for apps, add-ons, and programs that are Drive ready.

So I introduce to you Doodlecast Pro, a whiteboard app that offers drawing, video, voice, and photo capabilities with nearly seamless integration with one of several cloud storage services - Google Drive being the best, IMHO - and YouTube, if that meets your fancy.

Aside from some obvious student uses - explanatory videos, non-linguistic representations, or realtime math solutions, to name just a few - Doodlecast Pro offers teachers the ability to provide meaningful feedback about student learning is a very efficient and effective manner.

Traditionally, educators have given students static paper assignments - worksheets, math problems, writing prompts, etc - and provided feedback in much the same way. That is, formative feedback has normally been written on paper, and, quite honestly has been less that helpful. After all, what teacher can spend the hours it takes to write constructive and helpful comments on 123 papers and return them in a timely manner?

Who are we trying to kid? The comments they do write have been largely ignored by the very audience they were written to help. Certainly, we expect our students to take an active role in the revision process, but if THIS is the feedback they get, who can blame students for feeling confused and frustrated?
What possible help could this feedback provide
to help a student improve?
Look closely at the circled comment on the middle bottom of the paper. What does it say? "See me after class," so the teacher can assumedly tell the student what he cannot put into written words in the margins.

The solution?

The power of Doodlecast Pro is the power to provide digital feedback in the form of visual and auditory content. We know that face-to-face communication is one of the most effective methods of providing feedback to students. We also know that meeting one-on-one with students on a consistent basis is very difficult and time-consuming given the mandates of assessment and large class sizes.

Doodlecast Pro can help alleviate some of those constraints. In effect, after a teacher provides verbal AND written feedback on an assessment of some sort, via this amazing app, simultaneous feedback sessions for any number of students can be built into each and every class period. While watching personalized videos, students can all take part in the revision process as the teacher moves about the room providing specific instruction to just those who need it versus spending an entire class period conferencing with only a limited number of kids.

Compare the following example of teacher feedback - created with Doodlecast Pro - posted to YouTube:

44 seconds of video explanation can be so much more effective that writing feedback on the paper, especially for a struggling reader or an ELL. What's more, the feedback is available at all hours of the day, not just when kids are at school.

Here are just a few suggestions for implementation:

Worksheets: Take a pic of the completed worksheet and talk your way through specific feedback on any or all of the questions/problems. While worksheets are not necessarily the best option for students (especially if you are reading this EdTech post), the act of turning the feedback into digital form is a great leap towards 21st Century Education.

Constructed Responses & Essay Draft Assistance: As shown in the video above, talking and annotating over a student's work has greater effect than written (and often vague and confusing) comments.

Math Problems: Both students and teachers benefit with the capacities of Doodlecast Pro. Kids can talk their way through math problems/concepts while afterwards, teachers can respond with verbal and visual feedback of their own.

Fine Arts: Verbal feedback given over a still photo of a student's painting, sculpture, design, etc is a snap with Doodlecast Pro.

Physical Education: While Doodlecast Pro does not support video annotation, still photos of form during skills performance can easily turn into auditory and visual feedback.

Keep the feedback flowin' with Doodlecast Pro!

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