What is the ASSET Project?

The key aim of this JISC-funded project was to develop an innovative, interactive Web 2.0 resource, 'ASSET', to encourage staff to experiment with the use of video media to provide feed-forward and feedback to students on their assignments. The aims of this project were to:

  • Explore the usefulness of video media for enhancing quality and timeliness of feedback provision.
  • Encourage staff to focus on feed-forward elements of feedback.
  • Develop an interactive resource 'ASSET' which would allow students to organise their feedback videos into personalised playlists. For this we used proprietary software CORE, by Pentachoron. However for the longer term sustainability of the project, we have worked with collaegues from IT to develop a drop-box system to enable staff to embed videos into their Blackboard courses 
  • Facilitate feedback-oriented dialogue between students and between students and staff thereby encouraging deeper engagement with feed-forward and feedback, thus completing the ' feedback loop'1.
  • Disseminate the outcomes of the pilot study at the University of Reading across the HE sector.

The use of Web 2.0 technologies to enable the development of learning communities is supported by recent JISC statistics2 , which suggest that there are possibilities for mixing social networking with academic studies with 73% of students surveyed using social networking sites to discuss coursework with others (27% of whom do so on a weekly basis). In addition, the study found that despite students being able to recognize the value of using these sites in learning, only 25% felt encouraged to use Web 2.0 features by tutors or lecturers. It was therefore timely to embrace students willingness to use this new technology and to offer them innovative ways of actively learning for themselves and from one another.

The project enabled staff to easily upload video/audio materials into their own module areas within ASSET, which students registered on those modules can access anytime, anywhere. Students could then copy their favourite video/audio clips into their own customisable playlists to revisit as and when they choose. However, ASSET did more than support feedback to students; it also encouraged staff to focus on the 'feed-forward' component of feedback. For example, a member of staff could upload a short video to explain what he/she was looking for in a particular piece of coursework, for example, these are the areas that typically lead to students performing poorly in this type of assignment, so make sure to... and to improve performance in this type of assignment in future you should focus on.... ASSET also supported the development of University-level feedback materials, i.e. video/audio clips that do not relate to specific modules/assignments but which are of generic use to all students, such as making the most of your feedback.

 What is Feed-forward?

Feed-forward is a key component of ‘good’ feedback in which the assessor constructively identifies ways in which a student may improve their performance. For example, you could turn a specific positive feedback comment such as “your conclusions neatly summarised the different approaches taken by the two research methodologies” into something more forward-looking by adding “you should continually focus on making use of the primary research literature as a central focus of your writing in order to construct your arguments”. You can also use feed-forward as a way of ‘signposting’ what you are looking for as an assessor in a particular assignment, i.e. as a means of explaining your assessment criteria to students.

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 1. Juwah, D. Macfarlane-Dick, B. Matthew, D. Nicol, D. & Smith, B. (2004) Enhancing student learning through effective formative feedback York: The Higher Education Academy.

2.Great Expectations of ICT: how higher education institutions are measuring up. Report for the Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC) June 2008.

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