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Giving feedback to students by audio and screen capture

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As frequently mentioned on this blog, students across the sector perceive grave shortcomings when it comes to feedback. Alongside this, there is near-total consensus that assessments and assignments should always be formative even where they are summative. So, any new intervention which could improve the way feedback is given is worth consideration.

Yesterday at the London School of Economics’ Teaching Day, I was lucky enough to attend the session on ‘Talking to your students using audio feedback’, led by Steve Bond and Matt Lingard.

The abstract for the session:

Talking to your students using audio feedback

This seminar will present examples of use of audio feedback from universities around the UK. Participants will have the opportunity to discuss in small groups how they might use these techniques in their own teaching. It will also provide practical advice on how to get started with the use of audio.

This revived an idea brewing for a while, which was to try this at Goldsmiths.

Why audio feedback?

  • Sounds Good project based at Leeds Uni found that of 1,200 students, 90% preferred audio
  • It was the personal aspect which was most appreciated – the nuance and warmth of tone. The feedback was felt to be generally richer. This is very promising for larger cohorts where feelings of impersonality can prevail.
  • Also appreciated was the increase in feedback – it is possible for staff to give more in the same amount of time because you speak quicker than you write.


  • It’s very straightforward to do this on a desktop or laptop. Sometimes there is a decent integrated microphone on your machine, or you can use an inexpensive one e.g. on an existing web conferencing headset. CELT can lend you a mic if you need one. The software is free.
  • Tutors say that it takes about 12 goes to hone and optimise the process, but after that it’s quick and easy
  • Because the humanity of the feedback is one of the things that’s valued, there is no need to script what you are going to say – some brief notes are sufficient and umms and ahs are not a problem
  • Because context is often important, Steve and Matt had hit on Jing, a free screen capture tool. This has the added benefit of the tutor being able to talk to the piece of work they have marked, and to use gestures or highlights as well as speaking. It is possible to scroll through the work on-screen and talk through bit by bit, in context.
  • The feedback is saved as a file and can be uploaded to each student’s private space in learn.gold’s Assignment tool.

Any caveats?

  • Of course
  • Not all students can hear – a few may need or prefer text feedback
  • If you are one of those tutors who is fortunate enough to have time to give ample written feedback, and to discuss this with students, then audio / screen capture feedback may well feel like a step back. It’s more relevant for tutors who can’t.
  • The feedback is not searchable or easily skimmable in the way that text feedback is. Depending on how long your feedback is, this may or may not be a problem. You could provide your outline plan to the student, and on it make a note of the timings of when you started talking about a given section.

Find out more

Worth investigating further? Contact Mira or John at celt@gold.ac.uk.


Written by Mira Vogel

June 10, 2009 at 11:21

Posted in assessment, audio