Giving good, impactful feedback to large classes can be difficult. One possible solution is the delivery of audio and visual feedback using screencast technology, which provides students with the opportunity to receive personalised feedback in an easy-to-follow and comprehensible way.
The key benefits of feedback using screencasts include reduced typing, avoiding having to schedule large numbers of individual feedback sessions, and providing flexible access, so that students can watch when and where they want.
Having the right equipment is key for giving screencast feedback. Both laptops and iPads work for this, and if you would like to use a recording system that is integrated with University systems, try the Encore Desktop Recorder. Most other desktop recorders are not available for free, but the Explain Everything app is a cheap alternative if you are using an iPad. If possible, invest in a plug-and play microphone (either standalone or as part of a headset) for better audio quality.
Beyond the technical aspects, screen feedback has many of the same opportunities and challenges as other mechanisms of giving feedback, although the student isn’t there to discuss it with you in real time. However, some issues could be overcome by envisaging the potential questions that students may ask. Five key pieces of advice to give good feedback are:
- Praise good work, but make sure this is genuine, as it can often come across as insincere. If work is really bad, don’t give feedback on everything; prioritise three problems and focus on these in the screencast feedback.
- When produced, make the video only accessible to the student, so that other students can’t see it. This can be best achieved either by adaptively releasing videos to individuals or sending a link to OneDrive.
- Be specific – highlight good points and points for improvement. With both, specify what is good/bad and for the latter how it can be improved.
- Focus on process, not natural ability. Praising effort instead of intelligence increases intrinsic motivation and provides a template for students to follow next time.
- End with clear action points. Any feedback that doesn’t lead to a change in behaviour is redundant, so give feed-forward, namely a set of actions which will help the student improve before submitting their next assignment.
Best Practice Tips
- Firstly, make sure the students submit assignments on University systems, and that you and the students are familiar with the technical process.
- When preparing to give screencast feedback for the first time, you may be a little unsure of what to say. Imagining that the student is in the room with you is often a good way to approach this. The tone should be friendly and open, so start by saying hello and highlighting some of the strengths of the piece of work.
- Make some rough notes on key aspects to discuss in the document, and use highlighting or comments in a Word document which you can expand on as you scroll through the work.
- When giving feedback, be specific and descriptive. If you need to highlight key points, you could write them or demonstrate an example on the screen.
- Keep the feedback short, normally no more than five minutes. Feedback which is too long could make the students lose focus.
West, John, and Will Turner. “Enhancing the assessment experience: improving student perceptions, engagement and understanding using online video feedback.” Innovations in Education and Teaching International 53.4 (2016): 400-410.