Tag Archives: feedback

Getting Started with Screencast Video Feedback for Students

A short guide to getting started with screencast video feedback for students.  Further resources are available at the following site,   www.VideoFeedback.co.uk.



Screen Captured Video Feedback to Enhance Engagement with Laboratory Practical Work #HEASTEM14

I recently took part in the Higher Education Academy STEM conference on 30th April 2014 in Edinburgh. Here is a screencast of the Pecha Kucha presentation I have on the day on screencast video feedback to students.

Offering Sound Advice: Audio Feedback to Students

Over the past year myself and three colleagues in the School of Biomedical Sciences at Ulster (Alison Gallagher, Kay Hack and Paul Hagan) have been exploring the use of audio feedback to students. We used a number of methods to record and deliver audio feedback to students and the findings of the project will be disseminated at:

1. University of Ulster Centre for Higher Education Practice (project funders) 3rd Annual Festival of Innovative Practice, Universtiy of Ulster, Coleraine; Friday 15th June 2012.

2. Higher Education Academy 8th Annual Conference at the University of Manchester; 3rd – 4th July 2012.

At both events we plan to disseminate our project using the poster embedded below.

A Pecha Kucha presentation was delivered at the Ulster event. A screencast video of this is posted below:

The project investigated various modes of recording audio files such as desk-based microphones, headsets, and hand-held voice recorders and interfacing with software such as Audacity.

Modes of delivery of MP3 files were also investigated such as feedback podcasts, emailing audio files or delivery via the institutional VLE. A feedback podcast was developed for a large (n=140) year one module to provide comments on student performance in a laboratory context. This utilised Feedburner to manage the podcast and to track usage. The feedback provided was generic in nature and summarised comments provided to students verbally in class.

In their evaluation a number of students stated that they preferred to receive verbal feedback in class or to receive written feedback. Some students commented that they did not use iTunes (or similar software) and were not familiar with subscribing to podcasts despite being given a brief instruction on how to do this. This therefore represents a technological hurdle that needs to be addressed if this technology is to be used in the future. Finally both staff and student perceptions of using this mode of feedback alongside more traditional modes of feedback such as written comments on student work or verbal feedback provided in class were explored.

Getting Started

We have found one of the most straightforward ways to get started with audio feedback is to use the Wimba Voice Tools available within our own VLE, Blackboard Learn. This requires that the user have a headset and microphone, but all other aspects from recording the audio to delivery via email is taken care of. One downside is that emails are sent off immediately and cannot be queued up for delivery in a batch. If individual students are receiving feedback it will reach them at different times. There is also limited opportunity to edit the files before they are sent out. However, these are only a minor drawbacks considering how straightforward the tools are to use. In addition, the files are archived within Blackboard learn for accessing at a later time.

Other Recording Tools

In a previous post I mentioned that for a while now I have been sending feedback on some student work as MP3 audio files. I have used the free program Audacity which gives a greater level of flexibility in recording, editing and outputting the finalised audio file. A short article in the Bioscience Education E-Journal describes how we have configured Audacity to work for us.

Some colleagues had been asking about the process of providing feedback in this manner and so I have prepared a short screenr video on how to use Audacity.

Recorded Delivery

Once captured the files need to be sent to students. If you are not using the Wimba Voice Tools on the VLE then you will probably send these by email. This is no major problem if you are sending files to a handful of students or generic feedback to a large group; but what if you have recoded individual files for a large group of students? For that you will need to use mail-merged email that allows you to attach the individual file for the relevant student. This can be done using Pegasus Mail and a full tutorial is provided here: www.bioscience.heacademy.ac.uk/journal/vol12/beej-12-c1.aspx. An alternative approach is to use Microsoft Office running macros and a tutorials is available here: word.mvps.org/faqs/mailmerge/mergewithattachments.htm. Both scenarios do require some time spent in configuring the system.

Sounding Off

Colleagues offered various perspectives as evidenced in the poster above. Some brief conclusions are: Individualised and formative feedback by this mode can be very effective. It may be extended to offer ‘whole group’ feedback for large classes, though this does not seem to be very effective in all cases. Colleagues agree that audio feedback does not necessarily mean that it will take a shorter time than written feedback, but that in most cases it has a greater impact with students.

Texting Times

The Market Square in Antwerp, Belgium

First, Glasgow Caledonian University….
I seem to have been talking about SMS texting a bit over the last while. Last week I was invited by Kevan Gartland to Glasgow Caledonian University to participate in an event on Feedback Enhancement in the Biological Sciences. This was one in a series of seminars on this subject organised by Glasgow Caledonian University in association with the Higher Education Academy. I outlined our use of text messaging (as described previously) especially in assisting with peer marking and rapid communication of results following a written class test for around 100+ students.

Also presenting at the event was Jamie McDermott from GCU who was demonstrating his use of www.textwall.co.uk especially in an inter-professional context in a session with some 500 students. This has proved most successful in engaging students in this large lecture context with many asking questions by text message were they would normally have been reluctant to pose a question verbally during the session.

….next, Antwerp in Belgium…
Then this week I was off to Antwerp in Belgium for the 2012 BlackBoard Teaching and Learning Conference. This time I was invited by Travis Sowders of BlackBoard Connect to be involved in a panel discussion on the use of SMS text messaging in the classroom. Travis chaired the session and there were contributions by Jo Spiller from University of Edinburgh and myself on our three uses of texting at Ulster; communication, feedback and voting.

**Update on Friday 1st June 2012. Slides from our session at Antwerp are now embedded below:**

**Update on Tuesday 19th March 2013. Interview regarding the use of text messaging in the School of Biomedical Sciences, University of Ulster as recorded in Antwerp for BlackBoardTV is now embedded below:**

…. in other parts of the conference…
For me one of the highlights of the conference was the keynote address by Kayvon Beykpour, general manager of Blackboard Mobile. He described the work that had been done to introduce push notifications in BlackBoard meaning that students can receive up-to-date information straight to their handheld device. This was well received by conference delegates. However, it was the second part of his presentation that appealed to me most where he described the new developments in mobile-enabled class tests / examinations. Tests set up in the mobile environment can be made available to users of an array of mobile devices, but they can still be accessed in the traditional way via a computer connected to the VLE. This new feature opens the possibility of running multiple choice and short answer tests for large groups of students, each accessing the test from the familiar platform of their preferred mobile device.

I was also most impressed with a demo of Kaltura video sharing software for Blackboard. This facilitates a You Tube type environment where video may be shared in a number of different ways to different user groups. For me this represents an opportunity to consider upgrading the platform for our YouTestTube video sharing project adding mobile functionality and making the site much more accessible.

There were a number of Tweeters at the event and the tweets from the #BbTLC2012 hashtag have been archived at the following address: bit.ly/ImS3zs

Not surprisingly, WiFi access throughout the conference venues was excellent and worked flawlessly. Antwerp is also a charming city to visit.

Image Credit.

Festival of Innovative Practice 2011 #CHEP11

Today I will be at the University of Ulster’s Centre for Higher Education Practice (CHEP) second “Festival of Innovative Practice”. The event website states the following:

“The purpose of this event is to showcase and celebrate the wide range of innovative work undertaken by funded CHEP and TFL projects during 2010-2011, and some ongoing work from projects funded in previous years. In addition, and importantly, it aims to allow all participants to share and learn from each other’s practice.

The Festival will be opened by the Vice Chancellor and will include a keynote address by the Centre’s Visiting Professor, David Boud, on the importance of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning. The day provides an opportunity to hear snapshot presentations of the outcomes and progress of a number of CHEP Development Fund and Technology Facilitated Learning projects. Project posters and stands will also be available to view in an interactive exhibition hall. The range of topics will include:

  • technology-enhanced learning
  • creative approaches to teaching and learning
  • curricula developments
  • pedagogic research
  • assessment and feedback

After lunch, Dr David Adams, Director, UK Centre for Bioscience, HEA will facilitate an interactive workshop on Creativity and Innovation.”

I will be chairing one of the parallel sessions but also in my role as rep for the UK Centre for Bioscience I will be “manning” a stand with useful materials from the Centre.

As time permits I will also post a few tweets using the #CHEP11 hashtag.

The programme for the day, as taken from the Festival website, is included below.

Centre for Higher Education Practice

“Festival of Innovative Practice”

June 16th 2011, Jordanstown Campus (21C05)

Draft programme

09.15 – Tea/Coffee and Registration

Photographs of Student Competition Winners

09.45 – Welcome and Introduction – Vice Chancellor

“What Makes a Class Un-Missable?”  Presentation to Student Competition Winners –

PG winner: Eoin Costello, Ulster Business School, Business Development and Innovation;

UG winner: Amy McCabe, Life and Health Sciences, Dietetics;

UG runner up: Christopher McAuley, Computing & Engineering, Interactive Multimedia Design;

UG runner up (and alternative format): Farhaanah Ali, Social Sciences, Law.

10.00 – Keynote Address:

‘The Importance of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning’ – Professor David Boud, Visiting Professor to the Centre for Higher Education Practice

10.45 – Parallel Sessions A, B, C & D: Project ‘Snapshots’

11.45 – Tea/Coffee

12.15 – Parallel Sessions E, F, G & H: Project ‘Snapshots’

13.15 – Poster Exhibition and Buffet Lunch

14.00 – Interactive Workshop:

‘Creativity in Teaching’ – Facilitated by Dr David Adams, Director, UK  Centre for Bioscience, HEA

15.00 – Plenary – Professor David Boud

15.20 – End

10 Uses for an iPod Touch in Education – #2 Providing Audio Feedback

Audio Notes ImageThis post was mostly inspired by a tweet from Michael Seery where he descibed how a colleague used an iPhone to send audio feedback to students.

Having used audio feedback (mainly Audacity to create the MP3 and then send via email) for some time now I thought the iPod Touch would be worth investigating for the task.

Using the “Voice Memos” function feedback may be easily recorded and as the earphones supplied with the device have microphone capability you have all the equipment you need for the job.

Once feedback has been recorded the file is automatically saved and then can be shared by email. There is also the possibility of doing some light editing by “trimming” the file.

The output file is in the *.m4a format which can be opened in iTunes. It will not play in windows media player however (as far as I can tell) so please make sure that your students are aware of this. Something else to be aware of is that the Voice Memos app is not available on the first generation iPod touch.

I have done some audio recordings on the iPod Touch and the sound quality is excellent. Obviously this is the wrong time of year to be trying the technology with students but I do plan to give it a go in the next academic year. I would be glad to receive any advice from practitioners regularly using the iPod Touch / iPhone to record student feedback.

Lots more on audio feedback can be found on the A Word In Your Ear 2009 – Audio Feedback website and in the communication; Making Small Talk — Audio MP3 Files Made More Portable.

Smilies for Student Feedback

Yesterday a colleague and I were leading a focus group with a bunch of students who had just finished their first year at University. We were keen to hear their thoughts on the types of assessment we use and their evaluation of year one generally.

A number of things came up that were not a huge surprise. They liked practicals, exams, class tests and essays but are not so keen on presentations and feel that we could do better on feedback.

What was a little surprising was just how much they liked getting feedback on electronic formative self-assessment tests in the form of a smiley 🙂 . They described how they would attempt questions over and over again until the smiley appeared indicating they had got the correct result. Coupled with this was their comments on how they needed encouragement to build confidence as they made the transition to University study.

On reflection we realised that sometimes feedback indicators that in effect say “You’re doing ok” go a long way in giving students the reassurance they need.

Used in the right context could “smilies as feedback tools” be the next big thing?

Image credit.

Festival of Innovative Practice 2010

Today I will be at the University of Ulster’s Centre for Higher Education Practice (CHEP) inaugural “Festival of Innovative Practice”. The event website states the following:

“The purpose of this event is to showcase and celebrate the wide range of innovative work undertaken by both funded CHEP projects and also through the key CHEP sub-committees during 2009-10. In addition, and importantly, it aims to allow all participants to share and learn from each other’s practice.

The day will involve a keynote presentation by the Centre’s Visiting Professor David Boud and the opportunity to hear snapshots of the projects and visit their posters and stands in an interactive exhibition hall.
Topics range from:

* Technology-enhanced learning.
* Creative approaches to working with students.
* Curricula developments e.g. problem-based learning, work-based learning, PDP, student induction
* Pedagogic research e.g. student attendance”

I will be presenting our work on the use of text messaging as both a communication and voting tool for relatively large year one modules under the “Technology-enhanced learning” theme. The programme for the day is here.

As time permits I will also post a few tweets using the #CHEP10 hashtag.

In Danger of Evaluation Fatigue

Form A while ago on Twitter I expressed concern that we may be asking our students to do too much. I don’t mean in terms of their learning, reading, assignments or practicals you understand. Rather I’m a bit concerned that for those of us who are interested in developing our teaching we may be asking too much of our students in terms of the evaluation we ask from them.

We now have questionnaires to measure module evaluation; questionnaires to measure student assessment of staff teaching; the National Student Survey and for good measure a few questionnaires to gauge what students think of our latest teaching innovation. While all of these are most necessary it can all add up to, well, evaluation fatigue.

As to the mode of questionnaire to get the most favourable response; I still find the old paper-based system works best. By asking students to complete it just at the end of a lecture means that we don’t intrude on “their time”. They hand it back as they walk out the door and we have useful data in our hands.

That said, I will yet again try an electronic system for evaluation on some of the practices we used this semester; just to see if I can get a higher response rate than last year.

That is what I was working on for part of today and thus probably the inspiration for this blog post. So if anyone has any tips for increasing the response rate for electronic surveys; please let me know.

I wonder what our students really think about all the evaluation we do? Maybe that is a survey for another day!

Audacity for Student MP3 Feedback – Explained with Screenr

For a while now I have been sending feedback on some student work as MP3 audio files. I find that I can record about three minutes worth of audio feedback on a standard essay and email it back to the student in as much time as it would take to annotate a script and write the equivalent comments at the end. Feedback from the students on this mode of feedback has been most encouraging and they particularly appreciate when audio MP3 is used to provide feed-forward on a piece of work before it is finally submitted. The technology makes this possible. It does not reduce my workload substantially but it does seem to have greater impact. Click here for a recent short article in the Bioscience Education E-Journal.

Some colleagues had been asking about the process of providing feedback in this manner and so I have prepared a short screenr video on how to use Audacity (the programme I use to record the audio files). This is also my first attempt at using screenr so it’s not a very polished effort! Screenr allows for screen capture and commentary in a manner similar to Camtasia . The main difference is that screenr is restricted to 5 minutes duration. However, for a short snappy introduction to something it does the job well, and most importantly, it’s free! It also integrates with twitter.

Click the image below for the direct link to the screenr video or view it using the YouTube embed further down the page.