audio feedback

Using Audio Feedback

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JohnPearsonJohn Pearson, a lecturer in Technical Theatre at our Brampton Road Campus, is about to publish a paper in the Higher Education Practitioner Research Journal, in which he outlines the advantages of using audio to deliver timely, accessible and engaging feedback to his students.

His students stated that they had listened to the recording more than once and absorbed what had been said, rather than skim read down to the grade, as they would have done with feedback provided as text. Their perception was that more time and effort had been invested in the process and were aware their tutor had produced an individually tailored response.

An interesting outcome was that students expressed they would have less of an issue approaching the tutor to discuss their work, as the audio had already begun the conversation, building a sense of community and potentially enhancing future achievement.

We look forward to sharing his paper with you in the future, as we believe this method of delivery, although not suiting all assessments, is nevertheless a great example of good practice that deserves dissemination to a wider audience.

Feedback Delivery

The initial student assessment was a peer presentation with no electronic submission required. Where submissions are required to be made through Turnitin, the current version does not support the tutor upload of an additional feedback file as is the case with a normal Blackboard assignment.  This, potentially, could allow the edited audio to be attached directly to the submission. How then do students receive their feedback?

John created a Turnitin non-submission assignment as a vehicle for returning the audio files in mp3 format.  He had to submit these individually, as bulk upload using a zip file is not available for files of this type.

The majority of his students use mobile devices to access materials and although there were some issues in playing the audio files on these devices, students experienced no such problems on PCs within the University or at home.

Future improvements to interface

Around August, we will be upgrading the Turnitin grading and feedback portal to a new interface called Feedback Studio. This new interface supports the use of hyperlinks within individual feedback comments which can then be saved as Quickmarks, if required, saving time in the future.

Potentially, tutors could use these to feed forward links to specific helpful materials on Referencing or Academic Writing for example.

As with the current Turnitin interface, Grademark’s general comments area makes it possible to record an audio message with a maximum duration of 3 minutes.  Unfortunately editing functionality is unavailable, and for some the whole message might need to be recorded in one go without error.

It is fairly common for tutors to think this needs to be voice perfect but the odd hesitation or stutter happens in every conversation and can be perceived as being more natural.

For tutors requiring longer and editable recordings, other software such as Audacity (Open Source) are readily available and on some University machines, Adobe Audition (proprietary) may be installed.

Once the file has been recorded, it should be saved into a specific ModuleName folder in mp3 format with the StudentName in the title within your One Drive or Share Point area.

Currently, these files would then be uploaded individually into the new Turnitin non submission assessment with each file associated to a specific student. The file naming convention suggested makes this a fairly straightforward procedure.

With the adoption of Feedback Studio, a share link can be created for each separate One Drive audio file. This can then be added into the student’s general comments area as a hyperlink. As this is now contained as feedback within the students’ original submission, there is no requirement to create another submission point making it a much simpler process going forward.

Other changes in how the interface is constructed means that when the student clicks on this link, the file will download and play on more devices. We have recently been testing this on some mobile phones, android tablets and iPads with excellent results.

A detailed technical document on this complete process will be available in the FAQ section in time for the proposed Feedback Studio release in August.


Audio feedback is an excellent way to connect with your students and if you would like to try it yourself – contact any of our Learning Technologists who will be happy to support you. I am sure you will find, like John, that your students will greatly appreciate your efforts.

Andy Robb