Vlog me up!

Erivan White – Surrey Business School 

The thinking: I wanted to give students an assessment that was a bit different, was potentially exciting, and that took them out of their comfort zone. I was looking for something that enabled them to develop their digital capabilities and work on their ‘personal brand’ whilst at the same time focusing on verbal clarity of expression and critical thinking. When the pandemic hit it pushed me to develop a new assessment which replaced the old group-work assessment, which had been very successful, but which wasn’t suitable to conduct online and didn’t pay the same attention to skills which are increasingly valued at a practical level. I plumped for a vlog which allowed room for all kinds of creative skills on top of getting to grips with practical ones like filming and editing. It’s entirely up to students how much time and effort to invest but, suffice it to say, that it’s usually fairly clear who has invested the most! 

The other advantage is that this is great practice for online assessment centres, interviews and presentations which employers are increasingly turning to for selection purposes; what some might call ‘authentic assessment’. Doing a task like this ahead of the ‘real thing’ can build confidence and make students aware of what they’re in for.  I could see lots of pros and very few cons.  I had to work out how the assessment would be submitted to the VLE and, once I’d sought advice, the process was clear enough.  If you have a VLE which is used for coursework submission and tests/exams then it should be able to facilitate this too.  

The doing: Students get a formative first attempt at the vlog. They can choose any subject they like which relates to concepts or theories discussed up until that point on the course (Week 7). The initial attempt is a two-minute submission which they get verbal feedback on. This can then feed into their summative vlog. The real thing is a five-minute vlog which is a response to a particular question they are given in advance (but not too far).  

In order to make sure they are as ready as possible for the task, I get them some training input on video editing and self-presentation.  This has been provided by an external trainer and has helped students get to grip with the task, particularly the technical elements of creating and editing video.  

The other issue is to make sure that students are au fait with the submission routine.  It is quite complicated on our VLE and I run through it a number of times both in live seminars and in online lectures.  There is also a pdf of step-by-step instructions on my module home page. This is another advantage of the formative submission; it helps students familiarise themselves with the process. No matter how many times I refer to it, there’s always at least one student who manages to make a pig’s ear of it, but that goes with the territory.  

The result: Students really enjoy the task, and the fact that it’s a little bit ‘out there’.  It helps them get to grips with the concept of personal brand whilst they’re immersed in doing something practical and still meeting academic assessment criteria. There has been a lot of verbal feedback but the best of it has come in written form when requested via qualitative means: 

What the students say: Vlog is a great way to assess as it puts the student under pressure and forces us to perform and grow.  

I enjoy the idea of creating vlogs for assessment material as it helps us develop skills in presenting and completing tasks under pressure, similar to a business environment

I really enjoyed making the vlog even though it was daunting.  

What I say: Give it a go! It’s the best assessment method I’ve ever used.  

For more information contact: Erivan White, e.f.white@surrey.ac.uk