Feedback on web communication

Subject: History. Course: Internet communication with writing course. Study level: Bachelor 4th semester. Class size: 20.

Motivation for the activity

The majority of written assignments at History are exercises in a heavy academic format, where the only recipients are the lecturer and co-examiner. The majority of students, however, find jobs where this form of communication is of no use. Consequently there is a need for communication teaching with focus on how to communicate advanced knowledge via new media.

Description of the activity

Instead of allowing the students to sit alone with a written assignment and only assessing the end result, continuous feedback on texts is employed to turn text production into a course of learning, where the student receives on-going feedback on his or her work. Time is transferred from the common classroom teaching over to the individual feedback.

Specifically, an external writing teacher and myself undertake to provide on-going feedback on two written exercises and the final communication product, which was part of the final exam.

Texts were sent back and forth between the students and teachers, but in a situation that if anything resembled an editor-author relation rather than a teacher-student relation.

This could, for example, mean that a text was returned to the student with a large number of specific suggested corrections as well as comments on which parts of the text worked well, and which were problematic. The text became in a way a joint project between the teacher and the students, where you worked towards a good result.

Here it was important that the point of departure was a specific format: encyclopaedia articles for danmarkshistorien.dk. And that from the outset it was established that the process was the most important element. That is that the aim was not for the student to produce something that was 100% her own, but that she with the help of the teacher should produce something that was as good as possible (unlike an exam paper), and that it is this process which is the most important element in a pure learning perspective.

Outcome of the activity

The work with specific and targeted text production created a situation where both the lecturer and students had a goal with the process, which was a great advantage.

  • In continuation of the work, several of the students had texts published on danmarkshistorien.dk, which was personally and academically satisfying for them.
  • They learned that from a professional viewpoint, in the majority of cases texts are created in a process between several people with different roles.
  • They became aware of their own written communication to a completely different degree than previously and even began criticising the lecturer’s written communication.

About the exam and learning objectives

The course is a so-called "Elective Historical Subject" and is part of the Bachelor's degree programme’s fourth semester.

The type of exam was a so-called portfolio exam, where the students must submit a couple of written exercises in the course of the semester, as well as a group product and an individual report. The final two determined the specific grade.

Due to the way in which the academic regulations are formed, an exam with grading was required, even though I would have preferred pass/fail. The criteria for the assessment were unquestionably the quality of communication in the product together with the communicative considerations that the students undertook (and which were contained in the report).

Actual goals for the teaching of the course were not formulated, but I have formulated the following for the new course, which could perhaps be used:

The course shall provide the participants with knowledge of basic principles and practice within IT-based research communication of history, together with the ability to assess and analyse specific examples of IT-based research communication of history. In addition, the course shall train the participants in the writing of communicative texts, both in general and specifically directed at the Internet.

Contributor

Peter Yding Brunbech. The National Centre of Excellence for the Dissemination of History and Cultural Heritage.

Materials from the course Web Commuication

Written exercise in web communication (pdf)

Danmarkshistorien.dk (in Danish)

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