Throw Away Your Red Pencil

By Larry Jacobs

On February 28, I did a podcast with a returning guest Patti West-Smith from Turnitin, a company known for it’s plagiarism-fighting tools, but really it’s the integrity of the entire education process that matters to them. You can listen here as we spoke about the best way to give proper feedback to students that really helps them individually by using a technological tool called “Feedback Studio” which is partly based on the work of world-renowned, educational theorist Dr. John Hattie. Dr. Hattie has proven over the years that feedback really matters to each individual student’s learning journey. But doing that properly takes a lot of time for a teacher.

(Here I hate to make a rhyme. Regarding this, “A new report was co-authored by Patti and Hattie ….Giving better feedback to students that won’t drive teachers batty.” Sorry.)

In other words, feedback really matters as you move students to the next step and the studio uses a library of your feedback work as well as the well-researched feedback work of others. It saves a lot of time and actually helps educators give better feedback to their students. WAIT, this column is starting to sound like an ad.

At one point in the conversation Patti stated (in paraphrase), “I want everybody to know that this doesn’t replace teachers,” which I assume means that they’ve heard that from educators occasionally; a generic complaint that I hear a lot about every new tool in education. And that’s my point, tools for educators don’t replace educators. MRI machines didn’t replace doctors. Power saws didn’t replace carpenters. In fact, if you saw your carpenter using a hand saw a lot, you’d can him because he’s costing you money in time….and why, you’d have to ask, isn’t he using a power saw?

They say time is money, but it’s more precious actually because you can’t buy back time you’ve lost. And right now educators have less time than ever to do more and more and more. And one of the reasons is because we know more and more about the science of learning…the more we know, the more we have to take into consideration. And that takes time. Right now 48% of educators are thinking of leaving their jobs…..they are under pressure from many directions…..and the use of all the incredible tools technology gives us can’t wait any longer.

The bottom line that the only thing “Feedback Studio” hurts is red pencil manufacturers….and I can make the same joke about so many other things. You’re not easily replaced. Believe me.

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The American Consortium for Equity in Education, publisher of the "Equity & Access" journal, celebrates and connects the educators, associations, community partners and industry leaders who are working to solve problems and create a more equitable environment for historically underserved pre K-12 students throughout the United States.

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Equity & Access - Issue 28

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