'Before, we would present students with a statement and then divide them into groups of in favour and against. Students then had to prepare a plea by writing a paper and presenting their position in class. Not only the content, but also the presentation was assessed. A disadvantage here is that, as a student, you only have one chance to do your presentation and it is quite confronting to stand in front of an entire group and receive feedback. Students also found it difficult to give feedback in a large group.'
'We started using Traintool in 2018. In the tool, we set up an assignment and we divide the students into groups of four. The students record a first version of their presentation in this application. The other students in the group then give feedback on the presentation, after which the student makes a new video incorporating the feedback. They submit this second video to the lecturers, who then assess the recording.'
'Traintool makes it very accessible to practise both form as well as content. Students can record their own presentation in the tool and watch it back first, before showing it to others. They can practise as often as they want and redo the recording until they are satisfied. Afterwards, fellow students can give feedback based on a checklist we have established and provide further explanations in a text box. The tool is very easy to use and students can get started almost immediately, without much instruction.'
'We find that students are very critical of themselves when they view the recordings, but also that they help each other well in giving feedback. We give the student the responsibility to end up with a good final version. They are master's students. They have two weeks to complete the assignment. The earlier they share something for feedback, the more time there is to receive feedback. Peer feedback helps students create a better final version.'
'As a lecturer, it took me quite some time to better understand Traintool and prepare assignments. But once the assignment is there, you can easily copy and modify it in a subsequent year. In the end, it saves a lot of time compared to the old classroom situation and you practice a lot more skills.'
'You do have to watch carefully how you use the tool in different phases of the programme. First-year students need more guidance than master's students. You have to instruct them well on the assignment, but also on giving feedback. Master's students can take more responsibility, especially if they have given peer feedback more often during their studies. In all cases, you have to make clear what you expect from the student, and give a good explanation during the lecture'.
Get started yourself
Would you also like to use TrainTool? Request an account at your faculty's Teaching Information Point. Together, you can have a look at how you can use TrainTool in your course.
Woudl you like to learn more about using Traintool to practice conversational skills? Do not hesitate to contact Jorn Kloostra via jorn.kloostra [at] ru.nl.