Center for Technology Enhanced Learning

Online Presence and Feedback

Feedback is probably your most valuable tool in online education. It’s the ingredient that offers your personal presence in an otherwise faceless environment. There are many ways to offer online feedback, and several of them can be valuable time savers for faculty.

File size and storage. Keep in mind that media files (audio or video) are often large and can quickly fill your Blackboard course quota. For that reason, we strongly encourage your use of USM’s media server for hosting files that can then be linked to your course or emailed to individual students.  Many of the online tools also offer free online storage that can be linked the same way. For video, consider YouTube. We also encourage you to use a script and keep it short.

Accessibility Also keep in mind accessibility issues. If you are offering audio feedback, consider whether any of your students will need a transcript. If so, you might want to use Dragon Dictation to create a caption to post with your recording.

Video Feedback:

Use a head and shoulders shot to introduce yourself to your students. This may not seem like feedback in an academic sense, but it offers your students a glimpse into you as a person: how you hold yourself, what your mannerisms are, your use of facial expressions to convey meaning.

When assignments are turned in, you can use screen capture software to create short audio/video feedback sessions for each student, or you can record the sort of generalized feedback you might offer in an on-ground class while returning papers and post once for the whole class.

Tools for video feedback: If you have a laptop, it probably has a webcam with built-in recording capability. On a Mac, you can use Quicktime, iMovie, Photo Booth, or Podcast Producer. On a PC, look for Movie Maker. There are also loads of online recording services, such as Jing, ScreenCastOMatic, ooVoo, Viddler, and  VoiceThread. Your cellphone or personal video-camera is another option.

There’s an App for That!  Photo Booth, camera and loads of others. 

Audio Feedback:

Audio files take less bandwidth than video, and they still create a strong sense of instructor presence in a class. Use audio files to provide summaries and critiques of weekly discussion forums, to introduce course and module objectives each week, to give details of what you are looking for in an assignment. 

Tools for audio recording include Audacity (a cross-platform free download) audio recording from your Operating system, and many online recorders such as Vocaroo.

There’s an App for That! Voice Recorder, DropVox, and hundreds more

Feedback on Assignments 

Acrobat Pro is  assignment feedback on steroids. You can save students’ work as a pdf, then mark it up with comments, sticky notes, highlighting, hand-drawn or typed commentary, stamps, and AUDIO comments. This cross-platform tool is not free and must be installed on your computer (see CTEL if you’d like a copy) but your students can view AND HEAR your feedback with the free Acrobat Reader. Here is Pat Red’s PowerPoint about using Acrobat Pro.

How does this differ from commenting in Word?

  • It is cross-platform,
  • the file size is smaller, and
  • students cannot simply click to accept your corrections, they have to go to their original file and make the changes manually.

There’s an app for that! Check out iAnnotatePDF for the iPad.

Another option is screen capture where you open a student’s paper in the video, mark it up, and offer commentary. (Jing, ScreenCastoMatic, Camtasia).

There’s an app for that! ExplainEverything.

Finally, keep brevity in mind.

Students may enjoy your spending 20 minutes recording audio feedback on their paper, but, most likely, they’d prefer something shorter. Consider breaking your audio comments up and placing them at succinct points in their papers. The longer your recording is, the larger the file will be. Storage is a factor. If you are tempted to make a long recording because you feel a student missed something essential, you might want to make that the subject of an audio/video/lecture for the whole class.