Peer Review with Google Docs

Students can review and comment on each other’s work with Google docs, which offers tools for side bar comments and also a ‘suggesting’ mode that allows them to propose revisions to prose, etc.  If you expect, for instance, students to save drafts (with comments) it will be a good idea to make periodic Word versions (which preserve all comments) for further reference. 

Pros: Free, extensive editing tools means that drafts and revisions can easily be saved as Word or PDF documents with full apparatus or special symbols and formatting.

Cons:  Bryn Mawr students will need to sign up for Google accounts and they will need to have user names you can recoginze if they are commenting on drafts or other documents.  If student authors are too quick to “accept” suggestions or “resolve” comments it might be difficult to track the process of review and revision.

Groups in Moodle

Moodle will allow you to organize students into groups in Moodle for smaller discussions and other activities.  You can have group assignments, so that several students work together on a single project. Written assignment can be crafted within Moodle (with the text editor) or uploaded as a finished PDF or other document.  Note: there is a file size limit of 20 Mb for assignments uploaded by students. Audio or video assignments of more than a minute or so, should be uploaded to a separate cloud service (Panopto, Google, Box, etc.).

Pros: If you are using Moodle, this lets you facilitate group work in almost any activity. 

Cons: If you are using multiple group configurations within your course, along with groups in the gradebook, you need to use the “groupings” option. This is not hard, but if fail to add groupings, your gradebook won’t reflect the group grades correctly.

Expert: Sharon Strauss

Written Discussions in Moodle

Moodle Forums provide a blog-like space where students can hold threaded asynchronous (or even synchronous) discussions, either as the entire class, or based on groups of your choosing.  

Pros: Integration with Moodle.

Cons: If you plan to have different sets of student groups for different activities, and to use the gradebook, you’ll need to also set up groupings of groups. UMass Amherst has instructions for creating Groupings. Also:  navigating back to individual posts (and replies) can be tricky if you expect to use these during some live discussion. Finally:  your feedback to individual students via the Forum will be visible to all students.

Expert:  Sharon Strauss

Oral Discussions in Moodle

VoiceThread allows students to record their own voice and share their ideas with others. Subsequent students (or even the instructor) can in turn react to these ideas with subsequent VoiceThread recordings.  

Pros:  Built-in to Moodle.  It is easy for students (and faculty) to create their speech and presentation videos, and watch others’ videos in class or beyond.

Cons:  Checking and/or commenting on all the VoiceTheads created by students can be extremely time-consuming, especially when the class size is more than ten or so. Keeping track of who commented on which VoiceThread can be difficult, once there are many posts.

Expert: Sharon Strauss

Groups in Slack

Slack is a platform for collaboration.  Better than trading messages and attachments via email, it allows groups to create teams and communicate through “channels” that users can create as they go. Participants join (or leave) a particular channel as needed; threaded conversations can be linked to Google documents or other shared resources. Slack channels thus reflect the developing sense of a conversation (something like Users can set to be notified of updates to conversations. 

Slack could be used as a synchronous discussion complement to a simultaneous Zoom meeting (better than the un-threaded Zoom chat), or as an synchronous or asynchronous space of it’s own where a class or small group could sustain a conversation over several hours or days.  It’s even possible to launch Zoom calls from within Slack, thus allowing students to move from written to oral conversations as needed.

Learn more about Slack via Linked In.

Pros:  Free (sign-up required).  Better than Zoom chat, because conversations are threaded and can be linked to other documents and resources. 

Cons:  Not integrated with Moodle; Faculty would need to invite (or accept requests) from each student to join the Slack Group at the outset.  

Expert:   Richard Freedman, Ben Le, Andy Janco, Mike Zarafonetis

Peer Review with Moodle Forum

Moodle Forums provide a quick way for students to offer written commentary on each other’s ideas (as expressed in the rorums themselves or perhaps some other shared content they provide within Moodle or via some other platform. Students can start a thread with their work and ask others to reply with comments. Davidson College has created some nice instructions for doing peer review in groups with the forum

(If you are interested in peer review and revision linked to specific passages in a student’s work, you might instead want to use Google Docs, which allows for extensive commenting and editorial suggestions. However, if you have Bryn Mawr students, this might not work as well; Bryn Mawr does not give out Google accounts.)

Expert: Sharon Strauss