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Tuesday, September 13, 2016


The ultimate goal of technology in the classroom should be making teaching and learning happen in ways that you never thought possible.  One of those areas transformed by edtech is formative assessment. Nowadays,  there are many tools at a teacher's disposal where you can check a student's understanding quickly and in an engaging way.    But what if you want to expand past gathering multiple choice and short text answers?   What if a tool could capture understanding beyond the typical literacy demonstration of written words?

A few years ago, I discovered and wrote about Flipgrid, a student video response system.  Teachers could pose a question in a "grid," and students (via a webcam) could record a response within the website.  It was as easy as going to the URL and clicking a plus button.  In the time since, Flipgrid has improved the tool -- for example, you can now respond directly to someone else's response, creating a thread of digital discourse -- but there were a few downsides. (There were also numerous browser conflicts where Flipgrid didn't work, but in the two years since I originally reviewed it, I'm assuming those are now fixed.) 

[Update 5/3/17: Flipgrid now offers a limited free single grid option for teachers, Flipgrid One.]

 Several of our Shelby teachers used Flipgrid and gave it praise. For a time, in the nascent assortment of student video response tools out there, Flipgrid had few competitors.

Until now.

Thanks to a recent Google+ post by Christy Cate, I have found another tool that is just as easy to use, will work across multiple devices (including Chromebooks and via Android and iOS apps), and best of all, it is free!  Folks, welcome to Recap, brought to you by the same people behind Swivl.

How does it work?  Register using your email or Google account.  (It's important that you choose "teacher" during initial registration, even if you play the student to other people's recaps in the future.)  Your account will come with a demo class to give you an opportunity to play with Recap's features, but adding a new class is easy.  Once you do, you are faced with two options for students to log in for your class: via a class pin directly, or via their email/Google account.  The pin might be best for younger students, as the graphic below explains:

Note that the login setup is permanent for that particular class.  If you choose the direct class pin option, you can add students manually, but you must do so individually.

Next, you can create a recap.  One of Recap's helpful features is that you can make one assignment/recap around a certain theme or topic, but you can have up to 10 questions per recap.

Once students are in the class, they can choose to answer a recap.  Recap will then stop and prompt the student at each question, recording their answer before moving on to the next question.   At the end of the process, the student can also let the teacher know whether "They Got It," "Partially Got It," or "Didn't Get It."  Students can also view other students' responses. Although the teacher can give some text feedback to individual responses, students cannot leave feedback for each other, nor can they respond in video form to another student response.

The teacher's dashboard allows them to see all the student's responses individually, as well as a graphical representation of the "got it" reflections.  A final intriguing feature is the "Daily Review Reel," where randomly picked responses from some (but not all) of the students are edited together with some nice framing graphics.  This video can be shared with others, outside of the Recap website.

The teacher dashboard from the demo class.

This video gives a quick overview of Recap in less than a minute:

One thing that is very impressive about Recap is its simplicity of use, from setup to teacher management to student response creation.  I can imagine it used at multiple grade levels and for multiple contents.

How could you use it?  Reflections on a completed project or test can be done quickly: What was hardest? What was easiest?  Did you feel you were overprepared, underprepared, or studied/worked just enough?   Summative assessments themselves might have an alternative in Recap, especially for ECE students with compositional difficulties or ELL students who may speak more proficiently than they write.  An exit or entrance slip via some Recap questions could give a teacher a much more rich and nuanced appreciation of what students know and understand. The "Daily Review Reel" would be a fantastic way to share your classroom work with parents or staff; as of now, it is automated, but fuller control of which responders/responses are included is coming soon (see below).

Downsides?  It would be nice to have the capability to quantitatively assess a student via a grade or a mastery of standards (as of now, the only "grading" is a student's self reflection on whether they "got it" or not, and the ability for a teacher to give written feedback), but that might also be too heavy for Recap's intended streamlined purpose.  I was pleased to see several improvements coming soon, such as a student being able to resubmit/redo a response.  If they ever are able to have students respond to each other (like they can in Flipgrid), this free tool will corner the market.

It's reassuring to see that developers intend to improve their tool; hopefully that means the site will stick around and mature.

Do you use Recap?  Flipgrid?  Another student video response system?  Post your thoughts in the Comments below.

Update 4/26/17:  A new feature of Recap that can help create inquiry and personalize learning is about to launch: Recap Discover, part of Recap 2.0.  Learn more here.

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