Tech Thursday: Audio Feedback
Recording feedback on assignments can be faster for instructors and more engaging for students.
I shared some tips for using voice-to-text to save time in a previous Tech Thursday - today I wanted to share how I provide students with audio (recorded) feedback on assignments. I have found that recording my questions and suggestions for students is a much faster way of providing feedback, and it helps students to be more receptive to the feedback and more connected to me and to the course assignments.
Although my LMS does have the capability of recording directly from a pop-up in the gradebook (here’s how to use that function in Canvas Speedgrader), I actually don’t use that capability because the recording pop-up covers the screen of the assignment you’re looking at, and you cannot record and scroll down through the assignment at the same time. If you’re leaving just a quick snippet of feedback after reviewing their assignment, this might work well enough.
If you want to use the audio recording to walk a student through their assignment - which is what I typically do - then it’s much easier to have the recording happening in a separate window. As you can see in the screenshot below, I have my LMS open in one window and then I simply use the native audio recording tool on my laptop to record feedback as I read through the assignment. To make it easier for student to follow along with my feedback, I highlight sections on the assignment draft - as in the picture below - and use those as markers: “Where you see the green highlights in paragraph 2, this is a place where…”
Providing recorded feedback in this way only takes a few minutes per student; looking back at my files, I average 2-7 minutes for an essay draft and 5-10 minutes for a research paper draft. I use these recordings to supplement feedback provided by the rubric for each assignment. I have been using audio feedback for several years, and students have consistently had positive reactions - particularly students taking asynchronous online classes, where there’s very little instructor-student interaction outside of written communications.
One caveat: Providing feedback in this way does mean that you don't have a written record of what you have asked students to address or work on in future drafts of an assignment. If it's important for you - as it is for me - to be able to compare a student's progress from draft to draft, then I suggest doing a quick text summary (just a few bullet points) of what they should work on for the next version of the assignment. This saves me time later so that I don't have to go back and listen to my own recording when reviewing a second draft.
There are other recording options - I’ve used my phone’s recorder in the past; Zoom can be used for this, as can Loom or a number of other screencast options I wrote about here. But if the goal is efficiency, you want to pick the option that requires the fewest steps to get the recording attached to the assignment draft so you can move on to the next student.