This post originally appeared on http://blogs.cofc.edu/tlt (where I write for work at the College of Charleston)
Let’s be honest. Grading can be a drag. We may love teaching and mentoring students, but when faced with a stack of 100 essays, some of us consider a career change. Providing students with frequent and meaningful feedback takes a lot of time and energy, but there are plenty of applications that can help make you a more efficient grader. One such application is Kaizena.
Kaizena is a web-based platform that is synced with Google Drive. Students can either upload Microsoft Office files or PDFs to their Google Drive account or they can create their assignments within Google Drive. The instructor will get an alert that a student has submitted and can then leave text or audio feedback as well as insert outside resources called “lessons” and 4-point scale ratings called “skills.”
Kaizena’s “lessons” are a fantastic time-saving feature. How often do you find yourself writing or typing the same comment over and over on student assignments? Well, “lessons” allow you to create a library of text, audio, and video resources that can be quickly added to students’ assignments. For example, if I were teaching composition and noticed multiple students making comma splice errors, I could record a quick audio clip explaining what comma splices are. Or, I could find a YouTube video about comma splices and use that existing resource. The next time I come across a comma splice error, I can simply click a button to add that “lesson” and avoid typing yet another explanation of comma splices.
Another aspect of Kaizena that I appreciate is how the feedback is framed as conversations. An instructor leaves an audio comment, for example, and the student can reply with text or audio. When we write comments on students’ assignments, we hope they read them and we assume they understand them. But often this isn’t the case. Kaizena encourages a dialogue between students and instructors that can improve understanding.
I’m really looking forward to trying Kaizena with my students this fall. I anticipate it will make me more efficient and, hopefully, will encourage students to ask questions and seek greater assistance. As we explore the tool, I’ll keep you updated!