Categories
Education Product updates

Fixing feedback & launching Loops

Mote’s new ‘Loops’ product makes written and verbal feedback more engaging for students and more measurable for educators

Mote and feedback

Feedback has been central to Mote’s mission from day one, and today we are announcing a redoubling of our efforts to work with educators to unlock the power of feedback. 

Today – at the ISTE conference in New Orleans – we are thrilled to launch ‘Mote Loops’, a new product designed in collaboration with educators to address some of the challenges of feedback. Part of the Mote Chrome Extension, Loops is also integrated seamlessly with Google Classroom’s feedback workflow.

Why does feedback need fixing?

Feedback’s potential to improve student attainment, alongside other benefits, is widely supported by research. 

Given this proven potential, we have been surprised that more schools do not have explicit feedback policies, and saddened to hear of the challenges that many educators have experienced when trying to develop their own feedback practices.

So we embarked on a program of research to understand the challenges of feedback more fully. After dozens of interviews and hundreds of survey responses, three big challenges really stood out:

  1. Student engagement. Many educators are disappointed with students’ engagement with their feedback, and this impacts educators’ motivation to invest time in providing feedback.
  2. Impact measurement. Educators often don’t know whether their feedback is being actioned by students, or otherwise making a difference.
  3. Time. Giving high quality feedback takes a lot of time, often outside of regular teaching hours.

The scale of these challenges struck us as really significant, and we felt an irresistible urge to focus our energies on working with educators to address the problems.

Are grades part of the problem?

One theme that we have also heard repeatedly is the tension between grading – itself arguably a form of feedback – and descriptive feedback of the kind that the research predicts will make the greatest difference for learners. Our conversations with educators consistently echo research findings like the following:

“…if a paper is returned with both a grade and a comment, many students will pay attention to the grade and ignore the comment.

Brookhart, S. M. (2008) How to Give Effective Feedback to Your Students.

Further research has introduced us to the wider movement of educators who are challenging the role that grading plays in K12 and Higher Education.   This movement is sometimes known as ‘ungrading’, or ‘going gradeless’, and its thought leaders include researchers like Alfie Kohn, who have argued that grades are something that should be actively minimized, if not eliminated, where possible. 

We have found the evidence and arguments against grading to be persuasive, based on the experience of the former educators on the Mote team, and also based on our experience working with educators and discussing feedback. We also understand that grading is a deeply-ingrained element of most educational systems.

Though grades were initially meant to serve various pedagogical purposes, more recent reforms have focused on “grades as useful tools in an organizational rather than pedagogical enterprise—tools that would facilitate movement, communication, and coordination.

Scheider and Hutt, 2013. Making the grade: a history of the A–F marking scheme

We are fascinated by the research on grading, and are inspired to work alongside educators to explore ways to support the ‘Ungrading’ movement.

How Mote is Evolving

When we thought deeply about the challenges of feedback, and of helping schools to move ‘Beyond Grading’, we realized that we could have more impact if we didn’t start with the assumption that voice notes were the answer.  Instead, we thought: what would it look like to focus on building a better solution for feedback?

Today we are excited to announce Mote’s commitment to a multi-year ambition to work alongside educators to support the process of helping schools and colleges to push ‘Beyond Grading’.  While the challenge feels familiar, it does mark a new chapter for our young company. We don’t know exactly where this path will take us, but we know that it will be shaped by our community and by the lessons we learn together.

Our first step

We’re proud to announce the beta launch of our new product, ‘Loops’. Loops is like an exit ticket for feedback, whether it be written or verbal.  In designing Loops, we had three main goals: 

  1. Increase student engagement with feedback.
  2. Nudge students to take action based on feedback received. 
  3. Inform educators about students’ engagement with feedback.

Loops will soon be available as part of the Mote Chrome extension – we will be launching it for all users on July 4.

Want to learn more? Check out this video!

Categories
Success Stories

Simple, Intuitive and Easy to Get Started

Mote has become a staple for teachers across Irvington Union Free School District

Introduction

Irvington Union Free School District is a public school district an hour north of New York City. The district prides itself on its high bar and commitment to academic achievement. Three of the four schools in the district have been recognized as National Schools of Excellence. What distinguishes IUFSD is its dedication to challenge and inspire students to pursue their passions in their futures. As a future-facing district, technology is a key component of the district’s goals. 

Problem

As Jay Strumwasser, Director of Technology, shares, the district had initially used a different tool to allow them to add audio to digital assignments. However, because the tool was outdated and regulations changed at the state level regarding privacy, Jay found Mote as a possible alternative tool. Staff were excited to use the tool, and found new ways to use it, particularly because of its simplicity. Jay notes, what separates Mote from other instructional technology  is that “it’s not demanding in any way. It makes things easier….[with Mote] I can walk into a teacher’s room and say “can I show you something that makes your job easier?”” and because it’s so simple, it quickly takes hold among staff and students.

Solution

This past year, IUFSD has seen Mote adopted across a variety of contexts, including music classes, world language assessments, and scaffolds for students with learning differences. Staff at IUFSD create motes for a diverse range of reasons across a diverse range of contexts, with usage broadly distributed across many of Mote’s integrations, including Google Slides, Forms, Classroom, and Docs.

When asked about what has led IUFSD to use Mote in this way, Jay returns back to the initial reason that the tool spread across the district: because of its ease of use and capacity for impact. As Jay shares, in contrast to other technology which may have a steep learning curve, with Mote, teachers and students can add their voice “literally at the click of a button.” This power combined with the simplicity of the voice notes delivery sets Mote apart. Through the product, teachers not only save themselves time, but by adding their voice to assignments and feedback, they also have the power to extend themselves into digital learning. 

Conclusion

For IUFSD, Mote has been a powerful supplement to instruction and feedback. With Mote, staff have been able to bring joy and personalization to their instruction, save time giving directions and feedback; and helped scaffold learning for students with differences. In this way, Mote has served  IUFSD as a tool that can support every teacher and student, whatever their learning needs.

Categories
Accessibility Success Stories

Bridging the Digital Divide at ESASD

How East Stroudsburg Area School District harnesses Mote to build teacher-student connection

Introduction

East Stroudsburg Area School District (ESASD) is a public school district located in the Poconos of northeast Pennsylvania. Among the district’s goals is digital literacy for all of their 7,000 students. 

From grades 6-12, students are provided with a laptop device so that they may gain the skills necessary for their post-high school workplaces or their institutions of further study. As their digital mission statement reads, “we want each of our graduates to be successful…we know that in this century it is nearly impossible to do this without a digital device…” For ESASD, digital fluency is at the heart of their academic aims.

Problem

Within ESASD’s commitment to accessible digital technologies, the district has also made it a priority that students have authentic learning experiences. As Joe Martin and Diana Allison, two of ESASD’s Technology Integration Coaches note, one of the most effective ways that educators can provide these experiences is with personalized, friendly feedback. However, the challenge with implementing this feedback has been that “students don’t want to read written feedback because so much gets lost” including the tone, intention, and even connection between the deliverer and recipient of the feedback.

Upon the recommendation of Family Consumer Science Teacher Regina Brotherton, Joe and Diana discovered Mote and in their words, “went all in with it,” sharing the tool with all staff in their district. While Mote was initially used primarily for feedback, staff at ESASD found it to be a popular, flexible solution to a wide range of educational needs – supporting teachers not only in Language Arts, but also in math and the sciences. The key for ESASD was that, with Mote, as students completed assignments, they could actually hear their teachers, their personalities, and their humor, thereby giving a bond not easily accomplished by the written word alone.

Solution

With Mote, teachers have been able to easily and effectively incorporate voice into their digital learning. No longer limited to the potentially ambiguous written word, teachers across ESASD now use their voice to give feedback, instructions, and scaffolding. 

For ESASD staff, Mote has been a boon to both academics and relationships. As one staff member shared, she motes because “not only does Mote speed up the feedback process, but it also helps to give more detailed feedback that you might not normally be able to fit on a page. You can even explain how to fix an error in terms your individual student can understand.” This ability to deliver granular, nuanced feedback serves to both elevate the quality of feedback just as it makes the process more accessible to students. That is, with verbal feedback, staff may more easily communicate with their students which in turn leads to stronger connections – something that multiple ESASD staff described in a Mote survey.

Conclusion

For ESASD, Mote has been a bridge between the digital and human. By empowering authentic and human connection across the spectrum of Google Workspace applications used, teachers are able to not only build their students digital fluency but do so in such a way that it feels friendly, inviting, and accessible.

Categories
Creativity Education Elementary High School Higher Education Middle School QR Codes

10+ Uses for Audio QR Codes!

I was delighted to be joined by two of our marvellous Mote Ambassadors – Brittany Horn and Nicole Reynolds – in a pop-up PD with Mote. They’re both awesome and deserve a follow!

Overview

In just 10 minutes, they generously shared over 10 brilliant examples of how Mote QR codes have had an amazing impact on accessibility, connection and more in their own learning communities and beyond!

Inspirational Ideas

Nicole generously shared lots of ideas in which she has creatively used audio QR codes with her staff and students.

Community Wide Appreciation with Voice!

  • Students can record for others – a great and simple way for young people to share admiration: for each other, teachers and parents.
  • Families/Room Parents – voice notes to express thanks for the awesome work of educators!
  • Other teachers/staff members – spread the love outside the classroom.
  • Administration Team – leave notes of encouragement and affirmation for your amazing team.
  • Media Center Coordinators ( book notes) – use your voice in a variety of ways here: reviews, thank you notes and more!
  • Instructional Coaches – praise your team for taking on a challenge and integrating technology in a purposeful way!

Audio Affirmations for Students

  • Greetings cards – whether it’s a birthday or something else worthy of celebrating: why not try adding your voice!
  • Awards and Certificates – everyone loves acknowledgement of hard work and achievement: level up your affirmation game by adding voice.

Extra, Extra – hear all about it!

Want more ideas from Nicole? Jump into the video here to find out more about how she and her community have used audio QR codes for:

  • Bulletin Boards
  • Accessible stickers for student work
  • Notes in hallways
  • Notes on door
  • Scavenger Hunt
  • Bookmarks

Holy GuacaMOTEly!

Brittany started by celebrating the impact of using voice to 10x notes that she might have left with sticky notes – as it really emphasizes ‘the personalization’ to help build connection.

In her district, Brittany runs sessions on Mote for her staff called ‘Holy GuacaMOTEly!’. You can find lots of info on how they have used QR codes and more by searching on socials and/or clicking here! It’s impossible not to be inspired – as show below by two of the teaching team that have benefitted from Mote QR codes, in both the receiving and creating!

The way that audio affirmations work for the community at NISD is utterly inspirational! If you’d like to bring this simple and powerful practice to your own school, you can access the template here.

Mote Ambassador Program

I am proud that both Nicole and Brittany are Mote Ambassadors! We’re always looking for more innovative educators to join the community. Find out more by visiting the community page on our website.

Categories
Education Elementary Feedback High School Higher Education Middle School

Feedback Masterclass

An 8 Part Video Series from Mote

Welcome to the Feedback Masterclass video series! Please watch the short introductory video below to get started.

The Feedback Masterclass video series by Mote is designed for educators that want to dig deeper into understanding the purpose, process and impact of high quality feedback on student work. Further, it is created to help educators transfer that understanding into the creation of high quality audio feedback with Mote.

Feedback Masterclass Slide Deck

The team at Mote would like to give a special thank you to SlidesMania for designing the slides for our feedback masterclass. The slides below include all 8 parts of the feedback masterclass! Please share them with your team, school community or PLC. If you would like to make a copy, simply click on the button below the embedded presentation.


Part 1: Why Feedback?

Reflection Break: After watching part 1 of the Feedback Masterclass, reflect on your philosophy on providing feedback and the perspective shared in part one of the series. Consider engaging in the thinking routine: “I used to think, but now I think”


Part 2: Types of Feedback

Reflection Break: After watching part 2 of the Feedback Masterclass, reflect on your experience of providing feedback and how that aligns with the four types of feedback presented in the video. Consider engaging in the thinking routine: “Connect, Extend, Challenge”

What ideas from the video connected with your current practice?

What ideas from the video extended your comfort level or understanding but feel valuable and helpful?

What ideas challenge your thinking, create an obstacle or problem?


Part 3: Impactful Feedback

Reflection Break: After watching part 3 of the Feedback Masterclass, consider using the following thinking routine, “What makes you say that?

When engaged with this thinking routine, focus on these two clarifying questions:

What is going on in the video?

What did you see, hear, view that makes you say that?


Part 4: Obstacles

Reflection Break: After viewing part 4 of the Feedback Masterclass, consider reflecting about obstacles to effective feedback with the following thinking routine:

Claim, Support, Question

Engage with this thinking routine by focusing on the prompts below:

Make a claim this concept.

Identify support for your claim.

Ask yourself a question. What isn’t explain in this video?


Part 5: Quality Feedback

Reflection Break: After watching part 5 of the Feedback Masterclass, reflect on your experience of providing feedback and how that aligns with the four types of feedback presented in the video. Consider engaging in the thinking routine: “Connect, Extend, Challenge”

What ideas from the video connected with your current practice?

What ideas from the video extended your comfort level or understanding but feel valuable and helpful?

What ideas challenge your thinking, create an obstacle or problem?


Part 6: Benefits of Audio

Reflection Break: After watching part 6 of the Feedback Masterclass on the benefits of audio feedback, consider exploring the thinking routine below:

Imagine If…

To complete the thinking routine, engage in the following prompts:

In what ways could feedback be made to be more effective?
In what ways could feedback be made to be more efficient?
In what ways could feedback be made to be more ethical?
In what ways could feedback be made to be more beautiful?


Part 7: Feedback with Mote

In the final content related video of the Feedback Masterclass series we explore specifically how Mote plays a critical role in creating high quality feedback. We explore how Mote plays an integral role across three core Google Workspace for Education environments: Google Docs, Google Slides and Google Classroom.


Part 8: Building a Feedback Program with Mote

In the final phase of the 8 part series, we will explore a structure process that educators, PLCs or teams can use to begin the process of implementing a high quality and impactful feedback program in their school using Mote.

Categories
Education Events

MoteCon 2021

OVERVIEW

Add entire schedule to your Google Calendar by clicking here or add individual events by clicking on the links below.

Session descriptions can be found before the main agenda.

Agenda – Friday, August 20th

Agenda – Saturday, August 21st

On Demand (from Friday!)

Session Descriptions

SessionDetailsPresenter
Friday Aug 21
Welcome to MoteCon!
2.00pm ET

Mote’s CEO shares the journey so far and a window into the future….
Will Jackson
CEO & Co-founder | Mote
Add e-Mote-ion to your Digital Story Telling
2.30pm ET

In this session we will learn how to create stop motion animation stories with Google Slides, and how Mote can add voice and emotion to the stories being told.
Mario Eleftheros
Feedback Masterclass
3.00pm ET
More details to come!Greg Kulowiec
Let’s talk communication and collaboration with Mote!
3.30pm ET

This session will focus on using Mote in Google Slides to:
1. collaboratively build presentations;
2. create asynchronous presentations; and
3. provide effective, personalized feedback. With Mote, students and teachers can communicate more effectively and efficiently. Join Stacey as she demo’s sample workflows & assignments and talks about the power of leveraging Edtech to build student confidence, empower student voice, and create pathways of clear communication for student growth.
Stacey Roshan
Mote BINGO
4.00pm ET
Learn how students play mote bingo to reflect on their learning.Steph Howell
Mote for students? Let’s do it!
4.30pm ET
Give your students alternative ways to express and demonstrate their understanding with voice notes created with Mote!Sue Tranchina
After hours…Nicole Reynolds
Saturday Aug 22
Using Mote with our Littlest Learners
2.00pm ET
Yes, you can and SHOULD use Mote with the youngest learners and I’ll show you how I did. It’s easy and super valuable.Sarah Kiefer
My top 6 wins for learning with Mote
2.30pm ET
Debbie shares how she used Mote during online learning and transitioning back into in person learning.Debbie Charlton
Make it Stick with Sticky Motes
3.00pm ET
How do you make sharing web links more meaningful? Sticky Mote! Join me and discover 10+ ways to leverage the power of Sticky Mote for research, increased engagement and communication.Katie McNamara
Mote and the Music classroom
3.30pm ET
Making sweet music with Mote!Frederick Ballew
Springboard Language Learning with Mote
4.00pm ET
Mote is more than an amazing feedback tool! The extension is also a language teaching tool! Newcomers to English can use Mote to communicate with their core teachers while learning new vocabulary at the same time. Not only that, ALL student language learners can springboard their listening, speaking, reading and writing skills with the Chrome extension! Come to this session to learn how students can use Mote for language learning.Jennifer Scott
That’s all Folks!
4:30pm ET
A recap of MoteCon and all that’s coming up to look forward to!Sue Tranchina and Jon Neale

Feedback loops — the most powerful force in the universe

(Originally written for Medium in Feb 2020)

Learning to write code has taught me a life-changing lesson about why fast feedback accelerates how and what we can learn.

Photo by Jossuha Théophile on Unsplash

Let me start by saying that until 12 months ago I hadn’t written a line of computer code since dabbling with HTML in the late 1990s.

But over the past year, out of necessity, I have built up a working knowledge of HTML, CSS, SQL and Python, plus a little bit of Javascript and SwiftUI. I’ve been able to do this because of the patient tutoring of my dear friend and co-founder Alex Nunes, and because I’ve tapped into feedback loops — the most powerful force in the universe.

The amazing thing about feedback loops

Have you ever wondered why we can learn foreign languages so much faster when living in a country than when trying to learn them at home or in class?

Learning anything new takes motivation. But when we mangle our Mandarin so badly that we can’t even order a bowl of noodles, then we run a real risk of starving on our backpacking tour of Sichuan. So we improvise — we point to food, with a hopeful look in our eye, and we listen attentively to the words we hear back. We nod cautiously as the vendor says something in response, and wait nervously to see what emerges from the kitchen.

Photo by GoodEats YQR on Unsplash

At last, when our steaming bowl of noodles arrives, we feel that warm glow of success and the quick hit of dopamine. We commit ‘Miàntiáo tāng’ to memory for the next time hunger strikes, and we search eagerly for other dishes to learn. The feedback loop of language acquisition through hunger has worked its magic.

Computers can serve you noodles. Instantly.

With coding, a computer server plays the role of our Sichuanese street vendor. Instead of cooking, our server is running code. And instead of a warm bowl of noodles, we get a beautifully rendered web page or application that looks exactly like we had hoped. But while our Sichuanese street vendor is quick to improvise and motivated to help, computers are stubborn and want things to be exactly how they should be, otherwise no soup for you.

“No soup for you”, a famous scene from TV show Seinfeld

Where computers beat street vendors is in the speed that they can, ahem, cook. The extreme of this is where every key stroke that you make is immediately compiled and rendered. Watching this unfold feels like magical voodoo, and is just the most perfect example of the power of immediate feedback.

When computers make you wait for noodles…

For my new company, mote, we’re working on a Chrome extension that users install in their browser so that they can make voice comments on collaborative documents. It’s really been fun to design and build, but the challenge is that the feedback loop is MUCH slower.

Unlike the website example shown in the video above, we can’t immediately run the Chrome extension in a browser environment to see how it functions. Instead, we write the code, check for errors and then have to compile the code locally to create a ‘build’ folder that we install and run inside Chrome.

End to end, this take about 1 minute, which is about 50X slower than the feedback cycle that we get with the website. The impact is enormous: our ability to iterate and improve the Chrome extension is dramatically slower than with the website, and my ability to learn coding skills is similarly impacted.

As with computers, as with life

Zooming back out, this experience has taught me the power of feedback in every part of my life as I seek to be a lifetime learner.

The best way for me — or you! — to learn fast is to build faster feedback loops into everything that we do, so that every day we learn as if we’re web-coding, not Chrome Extension coding.

Here’s three ways that you can accelerate your feedback loops

  1. Use collaborative apps that make it quick and easy for others to provide feedback. Our team uses Google Docs a lot, and we developed mote to make providing feedback through comments even easier by using voice notes.
  2. Express gratitude for every piece of feedback received. Even the ‘bad’ feedback. All feedback, good and bad, is a form of human “training data”, and all of it is valuable in some way. Learning to critically evaluate others’ feedback is an essential step on the way to expertise.
  3. Consciously think about finding ways to build feedback into your life. But always remember to be clear about what you’re trying to learn, and what kinds of feedback are going to be most useful. Not everyone is qualified to give you feedback on your Chinese language skills, for example.

Thanks for reading, and please check out mote if you’re interested in accelerating your feedback loops.