Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Innovative Methods for Giving Students Feedback

This article will focus on innovative methods of providing formative and summative feedback to online and face-to-face students that go beyond the usual text email or marked-up Word file. Through the use of free, easy-to-use tech tools, instructors can make a more meaningful connection with their students and provide the type of feedback that will engage the students with the content and the assessment. By using these feedback tools instructors "can now provide more personal, more meaningful and more effective instruction in an acoustically and/or visually supported manner" with voice tone and intonation helping to convey feelings and to build rapport with the students (Veronica's Teaching Online Blog).

Audio Feedback:

Audio Feedback provides formative feedback to students in real-time in order to encourage them to dig deeper and think more critically to expand or clarify their argument or position.  Formative feedback is often more valuable to students than the final assessment because it fosters depth of learning during the course and/or activity. Audio feedback is useful because:
  1. This type of feedback allows students to choose when, where, and how often they will listen/watch the feedback
  2. It is especially relevant in an online class because it adds an element of instructor presence.
  3. Audio feedback is not only useful for commenting on tasks, reflections, and papers that students submit, but also to provide pronunciation feedback on spoken tasks done during online phases and to record the instructor's reflections on end-of-course evaluations.

 Tools to Use for Audio Feedback:

  • Built-in VoiceTools within Moodle. Voice Authoring embeds an audio announcement recorded by the instructor directly into the course. Voice Email allows instructors to send audio recordings from Moodle to a student's University email account. The only drawback to using the Moodle VoiceTools is that Java is required in order to play the recordings so students using mobile devices that do not run Java will not be able to play the recordings. For more information on using Moodle VoiceTools attend one of our workshops or contact the ITRC.
  • Apps that are available for Mac and Android systems that facilitate audio feedback such as:
      • Vocaroo - the most highly-rated audio app because of its simplicity. For more information visit the article: Using Vocaroo for Student Feedback.
      • Evernote - use the audio record feature and then email the voice recording in a note format to the student. For more information visit the Evernote knowledge base page: How to Record Audio in Evernote.
      • - a free, online video messaging platform that allows you to create and send video messages in a self-contained, spam-free environment. There are several videos available on YouTube that demonstrate how Eyejot works:


Screencasting allows an instructor to talk through a student's work by recording audio comments on the student's actual assignment which is displayed on the instructor's screen. This type of feedback is formative and summative because the focus is on the student's work. Veronica's Teaching Online Blog lists 3 reasons to provide feedback through screencasting:
  1. The feedback can be viewed during an online phase which frees up valuable face-to-face time for other activities.
  2. Explaining while visually highlighting and correcting errors on-screen helps student to understand the feedback more easily than just posting a copy of the answers in the form of a document with comments and/or corrections.
  3. It allows students to watch the feedback as often as they need to, when it is convenient.

Tools to use for Screencasting:

  • Jing and (both by the TechSmith company) are free programs that enable you to capture basic video, animation, and still images and share them on the web. This type of program allows the instructor to open the student's file on their computer, and while it is open, annotate the document and give audio feedback. Using this type of tool allows the instructor to speak naturally just as they would while giving face-to-face feedback to a student.
  • Screencastomatic is another free online application with one-click screen capture recording on Windows or Mac computers. The free version allows up to 15 minutes of recording per upload and can be published to an MP4 movie. The pro version has editing tools and unlimited recording time for only $15/year.

Google Drive:

Google Drive/Google Docs is available to all students and faculty through their University email account. Google Drive allows instructors to provide feedback directly on a student's document. Here is how it works:
  1. The student creates his/her document in Google Drive, and enables the instructor to view and edit the document through the sharing feature. 
  2. Through the share feature the student enters the instructor's email address which sends the link to the document to the instructor.
  3. The instructor makes comments and notes directly on the student's document. Google Drive provides excellent tools for providing comments in the side bar and/or making comments within the document itself.
  4. The student is automatically notified of the comments made.
For more information on how to use Google Drive for giving student feedback view the informative article provided by Powerful Learning Practice, Google Drive: A Better Method for Giving Students Feedback.


By using tech tools such as voice recordings, screencasting, and Google Drive, instructors now have the ability to provide more personal, meaningful, and effective instruction to their students. This type of feedback also addresses the different styles of learning with information presented in multiple formats.


Giving Feedback on Student Writing. University of Michigan Center for Writing. A pdf document that offers an overview of some widely shared ideas about giving good feedback, followed by descriptions of a variety of possible ways to put these ideas into practice.

Audio Feedback and Human Touch? Veronica's Teaching Online Blog

Best Methods and Tools for Online Educators to Give Students Helpful and Meaningful Feedback, Online Learning Insights blog

1 comment:

  1. My Screen Recorder Pro will work better for you. It is an excellent screencast tool. Records your screen and audio from the speakers or your voice from the microphone - or both simultaneously. The recordings are clear and look great when played back on your PC or uploaded to YouTube. It will record directly to AVI, WMV, MP4, or FLV. Just perfect for creating tutorials, demos, and presentations. Plus, java is not required and there are no limits on recording length. Also, the recordings play back on any device.