Main or important source of feedback at critical stages in the module.
To guide, inform, correct, motivate, encourage and assess.
An engagement with the students thought processes in selection, relevance, importance, prioritisation and understanding.
Identify the point under discussion as precisely as possible.
Be clear about the point(s) you want to make in a way the student will understand.
Tutor text / symbols / images visible, readable, precise, concise and appropriate.
Not all word processors can display all the options for adding tutors' marking comments, but I think there is a balance to be struck between the selection of methods that enhance the value of the marked assignment, and the effort needed to read the comments.
We cannot expect every student to have the latest version of Microsoft Word, but we should expect that a student will have access to Word 2003 or later, Or the free LibreOffice suite, Or will look at the marked assignment using an online Word reader such as Google docs.
Just using in-line text for tutor comments may have the highest compatibility for other word processors but it has very low merit for anything other than marking plain text.
PDFs have high compatibility for the reader as well as support for many marking techniques. Perhaps they should be permitted / encouraged for the return of marked assignments.
PDFs can be viewed in a free reader or a web browser
How do I know what I should see if I don't know it is there?
I suggest good practice should be to insert a brief guide to the marking techniques used at the start of each marked assignment. Each symbol and method should be shown and identified alongside in plain text.
Pasting this into the head of the document also adds your own styles to the document and gives access from the styles and formatting menu.
Information about how to read the marked comments could also be added here in plain text.
A request that students identify any special needs as the first paragraph in any assignment should also be added here.
Some students will not be able to find or read comments placed within the text, or overlaid on the text.
These will require different marking techniques.
I suggest that the student should be asked to always add a paragraph to the start of the assignment stating any special requirements they have in order to read the tutor's comments ( as indicated above).
What method, or combination of methods will you use?
Comments need to stay with the appropriate point in the text and remain with them if reformatted or displayed using different software.
Insert text in a different style or colour
Text in callouts
Ticks in-line using Windings ( which section does the tick belong to ? circle, highlight in another colour )
Comment function in Word
Work saved as a Word.doc file is mostly compatible and will display in LibreOffice
but the same page saved as Word.docx (2007) has a lot of display errors in Libreoffice.
Mark in Word, then export as pdf to return to student. Use embedded fonts.
Convert to pdf, then mark using a pdf annotator but it must be exported to pdf back to the student folder. Use embedded fonts.
Students can view their marked work in a pdf reader or in a web browser in Windows or Linux systems.
For students who cannot see screen content - use normal comments for a sighted helper, but write a separate plain text feedback document describing the problems and providing feedback
Documents to hand
Electronic marking is at its most efficient if you can quickly switch between all these open documents, and make use of other utilities on your computer at the same time.
A single small laptop screen will never make a comfortable marking experience.
A screen that will display two readable A4 documents side by side is better.
Two screens that will each display two A4 documents side by side is much better
For comfort the centre of the computer screen should be slightly below your eye height when you are seated
If you wear glasses, ask the optician for glasses that have their focus at your outstretched finger distance.
Skim or review the whole of the student's document to see how it is formatted before you start marking.
Your additions may on occasion make a mess of the student's carefully crafted layout!
Some students will leave you lots of white space into which you can add comments.
Others may apparently offer white space, but tie it up with formatting so that it almost unusable ( except for floating comments and symbols)
In some scripts you can safely add lines to create space after each paragraph.
In others adding an extra line creates a cascade of broken formatting further down the document.
Pages fully occupied by graphics may not appear to offer any space for comments
For problematic scripts you can increase the size of the page, but keep the student's work the same width, giving you a broad margin for comments. (use a macro )
Adding page breaks at intervals (at the end of a student's page) can stop formatting changes cascading down through the document.
The minimum activity needed is to make one click on the document to select where the focus of the comment is. A second click should select the full style of the entry, leaving you just to type the comment, or paste in a pre-written comment.
The second click here selects a macro from your ribbon or toolbar a pre-recorded sequence of commands to the word processor.
A macro might insert a tick into the text, or float a tick over the top of an image.
A macro might set the style of font, size, colour and spacing for your in-line text.
The macro I use the most creates a transparent callout (balloon) with its pointer on the spot I first clicked ( mostly, not always!) It has the text set to the font, size and colour, left aligned, that I want to use.
You can record your own easily in Word
You can load macros created and shared by other people.
You can edit an existing macro, to change what it does, or to make a copy that does something slightly different
You can add macros or buttons to the tool bar in Word that allow you to call a macro with a single click.
All faculties have assignments that are hard to mark electronically such as hand drawn and scanned work, and full page sized images, and where special symbols are needed to add corrections and comments.
For these a set of appropriate macros can be quite effective.
You can also have hand drawn and scanned specimen answers ready, and clip out small sections as images to add into the students work as images in a callout.
The sequence you might use for an assignment page that is a large image where you need to annotate the detail.
Special symbols can be selected using online keyboards and then pasted into your callout.
http://math.typeit.org/ mathematical online keyboard
31st July 2013. I decided to follow this up with some more research.
I picked a tablet from Monoprice - sold via Amazon.co.uk 9 inches by 6 inches. (Just under £40) This plugs into a USB port.
By far the best software to use when annotating a document is Word 2010 or better. You can try this out with Windows 2010 starter edition.
http://www.pcadvisor.co.uk/downloads/3250058/microsoft-office-starter-2010/ No key is needed.
Word 2010 uses the pressure sensitive property of the stylus to change the width of the line. This gives a much more fluid writing style than any pdf editor I tried.You can also draw any diagrams using this mode.
When you use the tablet an Ink Tools menu appears at the top of the screen, and includes options to change colour of the lines, as well as default thickness, eraser and highlighter.
[ LibreOffice doesn't have a tablet input option ]
You can zoom into the page in Word until the default handwriting style on the tablet matches the size you want on the document. I very quickly got used to writing on a tablet at my side while watching it appear on the screen. I didn't find that a problem at all.
Windows 7 also has a handwriting recognition mode that works with any application to insert text at the cursor.
Zoom into the page as much as you can and write large! Will look much neater when you zoom back out.
One potential problem is that the file size is much larger when you add handwritten comments on a document. I would also suggest that you should save or print to pdf the marked copy of the TMA to ensure the student can read it.
I would recommend continuing to use typed comments wherever possible for legibility. But ticks, crosses and highlighting as well as brief comments were very much faster than using the macros! My handwriting isn't very good on paper - it looks very similar on the tablet!
The pen cursor also switches to mouse cursor if you move it over clickable items, so it is easy to swap between different options, change colour etc.
Annotations added to pdfs and then resaved are not as compatible as you might expect! They must be converted to a full pdf first.
PDF-XChange viewer provides an excellent print to PDF utility that can be used by any other program. It appears as a printer in the print options.
PDF-XChange viewer must print as pdf to save annotations as full pdf format. But can then be viewed in a web browser
- cannot insert images as comments
see this link for the printer driver: http://www.tracker-software.com/free_lite_home.html
Foxit reader ( beware extras in the download!) Can use images as comments. But need to use print option with PDF-XChange viewer to convert annotations to full pdf format.
Added hasssle with print pdf to file is making sure it goes in the correct folder.
PDFedit cannot display all content of this sample TMA
-seems somewhat buggy
LibreOffice works well - but not always. Sometimes images and graphs are not well displayed.
Microsoft provides a free Word.doc reader, called Word Viewer. It needs an update to read all Word versions up to 2013.
Details are here: http://support.microsoft.com/kb/891090
It will allow you to print the Word document, so combined with a print to pdf printer driver, you can save it as a pdf. You can then use a free pdf reader to annotate the pdf to mark it, then print it back to a pdf to the student's folder to be returned through the eTMA system
Summary of attached files: