Navigating the New Classroom Era: Moving Beyond Textbook and the LMS

When did you know that Kritik was the right fit for you and your students? 
I started using Kritik last summer. I was teaching an asynchronous literature survey. Even if it hadn’t been for the pandemic I knew I wanted something other than Canvas discussion boards. The thing I really do not like about [LMS platform] is the discussion feature. I wanted students to be able to engage as we moved through the course, week to week. I try to simulate an in-person class by putting them into groups and having different discussion questions, requiring that they would respond to each other. I found students really weren’t reading each other’s posts. I felt that I had to go in and foster that back and forth between students by adding my own comments, but I found I was only having one-on-one conversations with students. I found they were not being critical to others, and Kritik changed that. 

Kritik works to optimize current course processes through peer review. This decreases the workload for instructors while bringing in new formative assessment mechanisms that give students more opportunities to engage with course content and each other. The benefits of peer evaluation are endless, for instructors and students alike. 

What sorts of activities have you found Kritik to be useful for? 
Instead of discussions, I made mini-assignments with the discussion prompts. I love the way that you can customize your rubrics so that the students know exactly what you want them to be looking for and what to assess. I have also used it in my composition classes where we teach writing; we always do lots of peer review. I have found Kritik to work well in many ways. Whether you want students to look more closely at one larger piece of peer work, or to simulate a class discussion. 

Our platform is adaptive, to fit all of your desired assessment styles. Kritik supports many file types to make activity design flexible and simple. Our team of Educational Consultants will work closely with you to design activities that integrate your course into Kritik Activities - book a personalized demo with one of our consultants. 

How were you able to integrate Kritik into your course while still using your LMS? 
I was able to just paste the links into each assignment into the Canvas modules and [students] seemed to follow along really well. There is always a bit of a curve with the first time using a platform. It took a while for me to set up assignments and rubrics but now the process is much faster. Previous course materials are archived, so designing future courses becomes increasingly simple. If there ever is a problem, I am shocked with how quickly tech support is responsive within your chat. 

Kritik seamlessly integrates with your LMS platform. Single sign-on, gradebook and class list sync, and deeplinking are all available with your Kritik subscription. Move beyond the basic features of your LMS, while still maintaining a familiar user experience for you and your students. 

Kritik has made implementing our platform simple. Our Help Centre is an exhaustive bank of instructional resources and video tutorials, for students and instructors. Still needing support? Our LiveChat function is available to you and your students, should you need further assistance, at any stage of your Kritik course.

How has Kritik helped you with instructional design and execution? 
Again, I think this platform is great for when you want to do more peer review, it takes a lot of the workload off of the instructor. I didn’t have to worry any longer about how to pair students because the Kritik algorithm kind of magically figures out who is a strong peer reviewer and who needs a little more work. It mixes the groups so that there is a well-distributed amount of strong students in a given group. The set-up aspects were completely eliminated from my workload, it has been fantastic. 

Kritik ensures a fair and accurate peer-to-peer learning scheme through our advanced AI system. Our Calibration feature helps align student grading with how you would grade, improving your student's grading accuracy.‍ Grade accuracy is reflected in their Grading Power, Kritik's gamification incentive, which allows students’ evaluations to have a proportional impact based on the accuracy of their grading.

How did students respond to Kritik? Have you seen an improvement in your students’ work since introducing peer evaluations with Kritik? 
I think [students] definitely do respond to it, they don’t get lost in a lot of excesses. Kritik makes it very focused for them. I have a lot of control over how many evaluations you want each student to do for each activity. I have done anywhere from 3, for larger activities, to 8 for smaller pieces in topics where I want students to see more perspectives from their classmates. They love it. Kritik never gets old for them, it is always a new person that they are evaluating so they get to see lots of examples. They have responded well and you can see that students have adapted [others’] strategies in their own writing because they are exposed to it so much. 

Kritik gives instructors full control over their activity design. From grade distribution to group-work styles, Kritik was built to give instructors flexibility and structure within peer assessment activities. Your Kritik subscription also includes live support from our instructional designers, to ensure your activities go off without a hitch! - book a personalized consultation with one of our consultants.

Did students express any feature that they enjoyed, in particular? 
I found students also liked the star system, the rubric rankings. It appeals to the students, they feel really empowered to utilize the rubric and make the most of it. Most of them really take it quite seriously and do a really good job. I am very hands-off I just let the platform work itself out unless somebody appeals the grade. I get very few of those, one or two on occasion, and you can [make adjustments to grades] along with an explanation. 

At Kritik, we know that rubrics is an effective tool for increasing student success in peer evaluation schemes. Our repository of customizable rubrics will increase the quality and accuracy of peer feedback while decreasing time spent grading. Choose from our customizable rubrics, suitable for all disciplines, class sizes and grade levels, or create your own and save it as a template for future activities.

What about Kritik makes it stand out, compared to your current LMS platform? 
The spotlight feature I think its a great addition. This is something I could never do on Canvas; I am able to show them something [from an anonymous student] and say ‘what this person said was great.’ Students are always asking me what I consider an A [level] paper and in any other context, you are not in a position to divulge that. The feature allows you to shout out and highlight [students] that were very successful. It’s great for the writers and their peers. 

Our Spotlight Feature allows instructors to highlight exceptional work. Creations selected on specific criteria are selected by you and anonymously posted to the activity home page as an example of an exceptional Creation. Students are able to learn from the successes of peers and explore new perspectives in a way not possible without Kritik!

How will you be implementing Kritik in the upcoming school year? 
I am looking forward to seeing how it will work when I am back in the classroom. I would like to keep using it. For online, so far, it has been wonderful. It gives a rhythm to your course, and formal structure and schedule. We all needed that, rather than imposing my own deadlines, it felt really organic. I think as we are phasing out of textbook purchases too, it is very easy for me to provide digital links and materials. I would much rather [students] purchase a Kritik subscription rather than putting 4x that amount into a textbook. This is definitely the direction we are going, as far as resources allocation goes in the classroom. I definitely recommend you give Kritik a try!

Dr. Cassandra Ellis has had immense success ushering in a new method of implementing peer-to-peer learning in her classroom. To discuss how Kritik can support you this upcoming term - book a personalized consultation with one of our instructional designers

Dr. Cassandra Ellis
Dr. Cassandra Ellis
University of Alabama at Birmingham
Associate Professor of English

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