Exploring Media Tools to Facilitate Asynchronous Peer Video Feedback in Teacher Education

Concurrent Session 4

Session Materials

Brief Abstract

Peer Assist is a peer mentoring activity that lets students solicit assistance for works-in-progress. Presenters will share how they implemented a virtual (asynchronous video) version of Peer Assist via the Canvas LMS. Attendees will learn how instructors and instructional designers can collaboratively develop asynchronous course activities using online tools.


I hold a Ph.D. in Educational Linguistics from the University of Pennsylvania. My areas of specialization are TESOL and sociolinguistics. After a career in software engineering, I pursued a graduate education in TESOL at New York University. I have taught and developed English as a second/foreign language materials at Wuhan University in China, Temple University and various non-profits in Atlanta and Philadelphia. I am also an instructor in the Educational Linguistics division at Penn's Graduate School of Education. In this role, I have provided academic writing support and instruction for master's thesis writers, international students as well as training for pre and in-service teachers in second language writing pedagogy. I round out my ESL experience with my prior work in assessment as a TOEFL iBT rater for Educational Testing Services. My research focuses on the digital and mass-mediated literacy practices of transnational, multilingual youth. The same commitment to 21st century literacies that inspired my research has propelled me to explore technology, music, media and performance in my work with ESL students in the classroom. With the Penn Libraries' Collaborative Classroom as a focus, I am building a strong program to support faculty in using active learning pedagogies and technologies. I collaborate with faculty and teaching librarians, developing effective teaching practices (both online and face-to-face), and doing research to demonstrate impact.
As a Courseware Support Librarian, Joe Schaffner works with faculty, students, and staff who use Canvas, University of Pennsylvania’s learning management system. Joe belongs to a team of librarians who plan and lead training sessions to help users see the system’s potential for attaining their teaching and learning goals. Additionally, Joe designs documentation for Canvas and other educational technology tools, and he also provides direct user support. Joe holds a B.A. and M.A. in English Literature from Rutgers University and an M.S. in Library and Information Science from Drexel University.

Extended Abstract

Peer Assist is a peer mentoring activity designed to enable students to solicit assistance with challenges they face with a work-in-progress.  Typically, this participatory learning experience is carried out face-to-face.  We partnered as instructor and courseware instructional designer to implement a virtual (asynchronous video) version of the Peer Assist method via the Canvas LMS with a group of 11 graduate-level pre-service teachers in a practicum course.  The teachers were tasked with exchanging insights about their action research projects using Video Peer Assist in the following sequence:

  • Record a screencast presenting challenges you face in your project (presenter)

  • Provide advice about issues posed in presenter’s screencast (peer advisors)

  • Summarize your understanding of advisors’ feedback (presenter)

  • Receive a grade and video feedback on your project from the instructor (presenter)

The courseware instructional designer helped develop a multi-tool configuration in the instructor’s LMS site that included Kaltura screen-recording for the presentation component and video-clipping for additional content. These media objects were deliverables for the assignment, so the courseware instructional designer made documentation to help students create this content. The courseware instructional designer also assisted the instructor with setting up discussion forums so students could access one another’s content and so the instructor could grade it.

As this was our first attempt at implementing Peer Assist through video, we issued a post-assignment survey to the students in order to gain insight on the following questions:

  • How did students perceive the assignment’s connection to their learning?

  • How easily could students use the technology?

Our initial discoveries show that students perceived a range of affordances in the video format, many of which were articulated in direct comparison to their prior experiences with face-to-face presentations .  These affordances include opportunities to: rehearse and revise final product; selectively browse other classmates’ approaches to the project; give more thoughtful, in-depth input; access an archive of peer input; and work on the assignment at their convenience.  

Still, a number of challenges remained. Some students commented on needing more time for the advising portion of the assignment.  When acting in the role of advisors, they all opted to provide written feedback, despite the fact that media (audio) was an option.  We would like to further understand this choice.

The technological challenges affecting students came from the problematic intersection of certain computer configurations, students’ unfamiliarity with the Kaltura screen-recorder, and the tool’s inconsistent performance despite attempts at addressing the first two issues through documentation. In particular, the Kaltura screen-recorder’s use of Java, and the idiosyncrasies of how this program works with particular operating systems, added significant time to the students’ completion of the project, requiring them to devote far more time than desired to setting up the tool. Additionally, varying levels of comfort with technology presented problems for some students. Survey responses show that the practice assignment was a significant factor in allaying students’ anxieties about the project because it let them identify and overcome technological impediments in a low-stakes activity that also prepared their computing environments for more substantive work in the final assignment.

We are seeking input from our audience on how to address the challenges that surfaced in the implementation of the Video Peer Assist method. By participating in this discovery session, the audience will see how instructors and instructional designers can quickly coordinate to develop asynchronous course activities using online learning tools through a description of the collaboration process. The presenters will engage the audience through demonstrations of the tools used, audience response via electronic polling, and discussion. The presenters hope to gain feedback from the audience on the choice of tools and the structure of the assignment, as well as insights from similar experiences.  Ultimately, we are hopeful that this session will advance our goal of of providing a more seamless peer interactive content creation  experience for our students the next time around.