And since I don't think letter grades tell students anything useful about their essays, that means I'm giving a LOT of feedback. Like, A LOT A LOT. My fingers can't type that fast, not fast enough to give meaningful feedback on 200-ish assignments every week. So Kaizena helps me.
In case you don't know Kaizena, it's an app for Google Drive that allows you to leave voice comments on Google Docs. By using Kaizena to respond to student essays, I can much more realistically give feedback to that cavalcade of students. It allows me (and allows them) to feel like we're having sort of a writing conference, which I know is ideal for every student on every major writing assignment, and is also completely unrealistic. I love the fact that students can go back and replay my commentary on assignments, which in some ways improves upon a "real" writing conference: this way, little side trails and details don't get lost in the ether. My students will tell you I talk and think in tangents, some of which actually turn out to be interesting/useful.
And Kaizena cuts off your voice comment at three minutes, which is perfect. It forces me to be concise, and let's be honest: three minutes is about the limit for anyone listening to a recording of me rambling about an essay.
So yeah. Kaizena is just a couple dudes. They are awesome. They aren't paying me to write this, nor are they shipping me to conferences or anything. They just make a really cool little program, and it has a place in any class--particularly ones that are writing-intensive.