Part 1: How could this type of web-based interactive tool be useful for assessing essay questions or conducting peer reviews?
As I was reading through the paper Video Conferencing in Distance Education by Bret Hitchings, I was impressed by the technology of being able to comment on parts of the paper and to other people’s comments. At the same time, I kept wondering what purpose all these comments served. It appeared to me that this was a factual paper relating the successes and failures of a video conferencing experiment. The comments that people made could do nothing to change the facts. Unless the comments can be used to help Hitchings improve his paper or to help UI modify and continue the experiment, these comments are nothing but another “cool” thing we can do with technology.
Along the same line of thinking, I can see Interactive papers as being extremely useful as a formative assessment tool, but it would serve little purpose for summative assessment. If an instructor used this tool to assess essay questions, it would accomplish little more than grading the paper online. The student would have comments to file away in the back of his/her mind for use on future assignments, but the comments would do little to help the student improve that paper. On the other hand, if this type of interaction is used as an ongoing process to help the student modify and improve the paper, then it has served an extremely useful purpose.
The same would be true of peer reviews. The comments made by peers can be extremely helpful in improving a paper or project. But unless the student is able to use those comments for improvement, the comments have little value. If the comments can help the student to clarify thoughts or to branch out into a new direction of thinking, then they have served a very useful purpose.
Part 2: Which paper did you comment on?
I left comments to the section on effective teaching strategies in Video Conferencing in Distance Education by Bret Hitchings.