Our Educational Message

Hi, and welcome to our blog. This space is designed to share ideas and methodologies that we use to teach Turkish teenagers. In particular, there is a strong focus on ICT-ELT, which means if you like visual and technological support for your style of teaching, this blog is for you. My colleague, Brentson Ramsey, has been working alongside me for three years. He is also a big proponent of the ICT-ELT Paradigm, which means he will also be posting from his own teaching perspective on the blog.

2010 was the beginning of this new journey, and although there is no definitive ICT-ELT road map available for everyone to follow, it is exciting to explore the technological means to make teaching more fun and affective for students. Our main message is for teachers to ADOPT & ADAPT the paradigm shift for their own needs, and remember that

Monday, 11 March 2013


The Writing Process deserves to be affirmed with capitals since it is genuinely something that makes us   into better writers.  No matter which stage you find yourself at for quality writing outcomes, if you adopt this method for improving yourself, in particular Academic Writing, you will see huge differences from draft-to-draft in the quality of your output.  The effect of writing, putting it down, going back later and reflecting on what you have done, then rewriting has a natural way to improve on your original thoughts.  In addition, if you then add in some feedback from a teacher or friend, the improvements are huge.  That is why I have written this post based on giving feedback, and in this case, VIDEO FEEDBACK.

I wrote my MSc thesis on this subject three years ago, so it is nice for me to reflect on what has happened since those obsessed days with my own writing process, and the belief in Video Feedback as the way to give my students support in their own writing of essays.  Although I still strongly believe in Video Feedback, my focus has changed within the paradigm to more support of Video Feedforwards as well as Feedback.  I will explain both forms of video use and how they can help you and your students get better results.


When teachers are normally expected to give feedback, it is considered normal to write on the students' papers with biro in various colors, depending on the mood you are in.  The resultant outcomes leave students with their own dog-eared paper and a mass of teacher corrections and comments which are often illegible.  The illegibility is not only about poor handwriting, but also about the language teachers use to express themselves; very often it is full of idiomatic and cultural references that makes the comments more difficult to decipher than work on improving their own prose.  That is where VFB (Video Feed Back) comes in so handy.  By speaking clearly into the microphone on your laptop, and going down through the paper with a bouncing yellow ball as your cursor, plus some other quirky visuals you can see below, allows for you to get a much more comprehensive message of support for your students' writing. The desktop video recorder I recommend above all the others is CAMTASIA.  It is more expensive than all the rest, but it is comprehensively better. The link is an example of a Video FeedForward which I will explain in my next post.

Your students can send their paragraphs and/or essays via any computer generated word processing medium they wish.  I used to ask for emailed word documents in attachment forms, which is not what I do now.  However, it was very successful, and if that is what you are already used to, then don't change.  I would say, though, that a really good alternative to using word, email and attachments which fill up your inbox and confuse on your weekends, and that is PENZUCLASSROOM.  An earlier post about that can explain it more in detail, but suffice it to say it has made my life much easier keeping my students' work organised as it all comes into one central location, and this is the real benefit over email.

The video I have uploaded here is an example of a Video Feed Back that I gave to a preparatory student after we had got used to each other's styles.  I was able to be very direct with her, since she realized and accepted that teachers before me had allowed her to amble along doing very little to improve herself.  However, this method and style of feedback made this girl change her own approach to writing.  It is advisable to adopt this tone after a few softer versions just to get them hooked, and then you can be more honest with them.  The difference between video and writing comments is that you can be very personal with your students.  You can talk to them as if you were doing it face-to-face and they love it.  The data taken from surveys is testimony to this claim of mine.

The first image is from a survey I did for my own dissertation data research.  The responses are clearly in favor of more video feedback.  I showed it to my colleague when we hooked up at our school and he was suitably impressed.  he now uses it weekly with his students and he has become quite the video feed forward expert (his videos will play a part in that post) 

SA = Strongly Agree   A = Agree  D = Disagree  SD = Strongly Disagree  NO = No Opinion

The overwhelming support from a group of fifteen year old Turkish students was very encouraging for me to continue using VFB.  I have had the same response from most students since that first data recorded.  The next set of images show the feelings of my current students.  There is some differences in their feelings about it, but generally it is still a very positive way to get feedback.

Here is a quality link I got this morning after reading the post from a twitter friend, Mura Nava.  It is further evidence of how important feedback really is. FEEDBACK

My continued struggle to get VFB promoted around my colleagues and into the TwitterWorld of teachers is definitely worth the effort.  I hope this post can make you reconsider your method of giving feedback and into the one that I have students to enjoy the most out of all types.  I mean, if we listen to what they want, it surely is a start to getting better responses from them and give them the best service we can.


  1. I really like this idea and look forward to trying it out in my next job, I saw you present the technique at a conference last year.

    Interesting that you correct errors rather than highlight them. Some research into the effectiveness of the former vs the latter using VFB would be interesting.

    I can imagine students being very responsive to correction but highlighting would promote greater autonomy and cognitive engagement.

    Also of interest is that students are using keyboards to write. Does anyone use pen and paper outside of language classrooms to write these days?

  2. Hi Peter, and thanks for your comment. I have found this method of correction over suggestion for my own students to be rather effective. I too agree that the hinting and highlighting of errors is also effective, so I tend to use both methods in my approach to VFB. the girl you have watched here was in preparatory class where language was all very knew to her, so I thought it best at that stage to correct so she could identify with words, spellings and the sounds of them at that time. Later on in the semester, when her language got better generally, and her writing in particular, only suggestions were offered for consideration of changes to her work. I agree that too much correction forces the student to rely heavily on the teacher, and that is never my intention past the teething first month. I also think that research of correction and suggested changes in VFB could make for very good research. I might even do it myself before the end of term.

    I also believe that the whole sense of getting on the computer and making the effort to sign in and even think about a topic is seriously autonomous activity already for teenagers, so a little pseudo-help and encouragement to give them confidence to write more is also my intention. This I did with this approach, and I feel reasonably satisfied with it to carry on. However, I am sure there are people out there, if they were to read this, that even with this suggestion are going haywire as it does go against many of the theories set in place for quality FB. I haven't found it to be an issue in my context since I see my students 20 hrs a week, and once I move onto more "accepted" ways to give feedback, the correction in my feedback has shifted to more suggested ones.

    One note about effectiveness of the method. I buy into a lot of student happiness and satisfaction, and without doubt all of my students who have had VFB eagerly comment that it is way better than written feedback. I look forward to maybe hearing how you get on at your new job with VFB. In Turkey,still?

  3. Hi David,

    I'll be trying it out in a Welsh Uni in the summer hopefully, with Chinese students, yes Chinese students are now going to Wales to learn English! We'll see how warm the institution is to this idea. I rather had the impression teachers were left to their own devices in terms of how they teach.

    I like the idea of moving from error correction to suggestion as this would allow the teacher to give feedback according the the ability and need of the individual student rather than a single approach for all students across the board which there is far too much of in current ELT practice.

    I tried to push the idea while I had some influence in a Turkish institution but it fell on deaf ears. One issue was the fact that the institution could not get away from traditional pen and paper based writing.... due to a lack of computers? or a fear of change..... I personally feel VFB is a major leap forward in the art of feedback on writing and am spreading the word.

    One question, are you're students writing in class or at home?

    No longer in Turkey I'm afraid, Donegal......

  4. I really like what you pointed out there about correction moving into suggested changes in line with differentiated learning considerations. Seriously necessary in a mono-lingual "hazirlik" class as the range of levels is quite distant across the skills. As for them writing in class or at home, they do both as our school shelled out for netbooks three years ago then we were left to get on with ICT. WE have done and now we have been promised new machines for the students next year. We are pushing for laptops since they are larger and very functional. The netbooks are too small, and tablets less functional for class and way too distracting for sure. Mice and hdmi cables crossed