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Using Google Apps to create a fast feedback tracking system

I have been very lucky to work with Loughborough College in recent months on an LSIS funded LIT project, which looked at using the functionality of Google Apps (which the college uses) to create a mechanism to speed up the feedback process for students once they have submitted their BTEC assessments.

In order to achieve this the services of Martin Hawksey were enlisted as the mentor – as his knowledge and skill in using Google Scripts was going to be required. The project was originally lead by Patrick Lander, but he left the college to return to New Zealand, so after he had done all the hard work, I was able to take over to finish off and get the pleasure of seeing the project through to fruition.

The project is currently in the testing stage, to check that it works fully before rolling out wide scale (which will now have to be next academic year) but the early indicators are good.

The project has been a very interesting one, not just from the technical side of things but also recognising that teaching staff work in very different ways, and for this to work we had to accomodate these different ways of working – which proved a huge challenge, but one which I think we have overcome. The main issue to overcome was to reduce the need for the tutor to record information in 2 separate locations (e.g. on the feedback sheet for the learner, and in a central recording and tracking location). The starting point was the idea of using a spreadsheet grid which then effectively mail merged the information into a feedback sheets that the learners received – however some staff don’t like filling out information in grids, and you are very limited with the formatting options of the feedback. So the solution is (in over simplistic terms) – information can be entered into a spreadsheet grid if the tutor wants to – or there is an interface that can be used which is more user friendly – this then fill sin the grid for the tutor. They can then produce feedback sheets for their students – in which they can individually add formatting or additional information to the feedback – and once done they can ‘release’ the feedback which puts a copy into the students area, and send them an emil notifying them. Although this may not sound it, when in action, it speeds the process up significantly, and because the actual grade data isn’t being entered twice there is less chance of data copying errors.

All of the outputs from the projects have been released to the wider community, in a hope that other people will see the benefits and develop this further. Full details of how to do this can be found on Martin Hawksey’s blog post on this at http://mashe.hawksey.info/2012/05/hacking-stuff-together-with-google-spreadsheets-fast-tracking-student-feedback-system/?utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=twitter&utm_campaign=jisccetis. Personally I think that for an organisation to use this they would have to have implemented Google Apps for this to work (it could work without it, but I think would be very difficult – as each student would need a google account, and the tutor would need to know their email address).

As the project goes through testing, further updates will be made to the project blog at http://thehub.loucoll.ac.uk/elearning/category/lsis-lit-project/ 


One Response

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