Tag Archives: student feedback

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.

Advertisements

Today I’m Off to Talk about Text Messaging

Today I am off to the University of Edinburgh to present at a TxtTools event on our use of text messaging for student communication, rapid feedback and voting. The event draws users from the public and private sectors so it looks to be a very interesting day! Agenda is here.

Update on 10th November 2011
The event was excellent and a lot of good practice presented. A number of tweets came from the event at these are archived here.

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

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.

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.