Remote Learning Solutions: Crowd-sourced ideas for checking students’ writing

I was curious about the problem of engaging with students’ writing during remote learning. How do you know how students are getting on in real time? How do you give feedback in a manageable way? The response I got from this tweet was magnificent – open up the thread to see all the replies.

I have tried to compile some of the hundreds of responses into some kind of order. You can access the organised list here with all the comments as they appeared on twitter with links to the platforms and some the tweets with related videos and blog posts. This contains the detailed responses and links.

Remote learning ideas list.

The table here summarises the platforms and apps mentioned so far – easy to find their homepages and youtube explainers via a simple search.

NearpodTeams Class notebookPadlet
Google DocTeams /AssignmentsSpiral Education@Office365MS Lens
Google sheetTeams FormsPhoto work email/uploadoffice365
Google slidesOneNoteUsing the chat function@mentimeter
Google formsOneNote insert audiowhiteboard.fiEmail
Google JamboardMote for

There appear to be some main categories of solutions. I’ve described mainly in a generic fashion here – hopefully you can match to the platforms listed.

Key ideaDescription
Live writing in individual shared documents or digital notebooksEach student has a document they write in online that the teacher can also see and comment on. They respond to tasks in the document. Document can be blank or setup with images, links and structured guidance. Eg googledocs, onenote – standalone or built into googleclassroom/ Teams.
Live writing in group documents with individual pages or areas.Similar to the above but each student is essentially writing into the same document for the whole class ie a section in a document with their name on it – everyone can see other students’ writing or they can work collaboratively. Teacher can see each student’s contributions in their sections.
Using slides as a writing spaceAs above but using googleslides for writing – each slide pre-prepared with textboxes and students write on their own page. Easy to see each students’ writing and scan between them during the lesson. Easy to link to tasks, resources, create templates.
Using forms for short answersUsing forms in google or Teams to set multiple questions. Students respond to questions individually and teacher exports into spreadsheet to see answers from each student. Helpful tips eg make Qu1 the student name for easy identification. Answers can be long or short – good for seeing lots of answers side by side to the same questions.
Using shared spreadsheetsAs before but going straight into the spreadsheet – student write short answers into their allocated column. (harder to mask students answers from each other)
Digital whiteboardsLots of apps/platforms offer this popular feature. Students write on their digital board and then share their responses as requested. Teacher sees them on screen all at once – answers can be long or short; feedback given verbally or written, to individuals or class depending on the platform eg Students and teachers can also write over pdfs of documents.
Digital sketch pads Similar to whiteboards but students have their own space on a bulletin board that is easy for teacher to see all at once – or scrolling through. See writing progress in real time and add comments for whole group or individuals as they work.
Voice/audio notesUsing voice recording add-ons to record verbal feedback – much quicker to record than to write same amount. Students can playback live or later if done asynchronously.
Photographs of work The basic idea of taking pictures of handwritten work or other non electronic work and then uploading to share with teacher. Various dedicated apps and use of phones as scanners. Teachers can annotate and return or use for verbal feedback.
Using platform chat functionMaking use of chat function in googlemeets, Teams, zoom – to see students’ answers to questions. Good for spontaneous dynamic responses in addition to verbal responses in live sessions. Good tip to use a whiteboard-style count-down so students submit answers simultaneously – so they can’t just copy answers given.
Standard emailSimply sending work back and forth via email – straightforward for longer pieces such as essays or chunks of work completed offline – not for live lessons.
Question response add-ons Platforms that allow questions to be set in dynamic way during live lessons or planned in advance. eg multiple choice or written answers -good for diagnostic questions. Various apps track each student’s response – as well as creating poll graphs, word cloud responses etc.
Verbal feedback in live sessionThe obvious thing of selecting only certain students or small groups to be on camera at any point to discuss work directly – work perhaps shared via emailed photographs or live document sharing.

Video Guide: Using Googleforms of equivalent for dynamic or planned question and answer sessions.

Video Guide: Using Google slides or equivalent as a dynamic writing space for easy supervision and feedback


  1. Thanks for stimulating such a productive discussion and sharing of ideas on this topic, Tom! Your summary of the various tools and feedback strategies is excellent and very timely given the currrent lockdown and the pressure teachers are under to find solutions to the challenges of remote teaching and learning. It was a great way to tap into the amazing creativity and expertise within your expanding group of followers on Twitter!

    Liked by 1 person

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