Audio and Video Feedback in Online Learning Environments

By Andrew Carlin

Students often do not engage with feedback, with many feeling feedback is not useful and not helpful in improving their learning. It has been documented [2-7] that feedback should meet the following 5 objectives:

  • Have informative and elaborative components
  • Encourage reflection while indicating what has been done right and what needs to be improved
  • Be considered useful by students and turned into actionable improvements by the student, resulting in a positive impact on their learning
  • Promote interaction and dialogue between students and academics
  • Be based on trust, so students feel confident to ask questions

However, only 10% of students have been found to seek feedback. Generally, those who seek feedback did so due to a deficit between their expected grade and their achieved grade. Additionally, feedback often comes too late to be considered useful, especially when only end-of-term assessments are deployed. Also of importance is the increasing number of students in classes and the use of digital technologies, resulting in increased student loneliness and other negative physiological side-effects.

One methodology considered to improve feedback and the sense of community is changing the communication channel. Audio and video feedback have been compared in to traditional written feedback. One study allowed students to choose which feedback channel they wanted and gave feedback both on the first and final draft of work. Students receiving written feedback were given a document with comments on their VLE, while audio and video feedback was communicated via audio and video files respectively.

Such a change has been found to improve students' learning and perception of the quality of feedback. In particular, video feedback was found to be significantly more useful than written feedback, while audio was only marginally perceived as better. Students felt that video feedback:

  • Promoted a greater understanding of the assignment
  • Improved self-reflection on work and improvements
  • Made feedback more useful and easier to understand
  • Promotes interaction and dialogue with teaching staff
  • Promotes a feeling of closeness with teaching staff; when compared with audio and written feedback

The design and implementation of a video-based feedback system does come with its own caveats.

Feedback channels should consider:

  • Degree of personalisation – which channel allows staff to deliver the most personalised feedback?
  • Clarification – which channel transmits information clearest?
  • Accessibility – which channel is the most inclusive and useful in the practical world? i.e. is written feedback better if students don’t require internet connectivity to access it
  • Sense of closeness – which channel facilitates a sense of closeness the most?
  • Workload – which channel reduces teachers’ workloads?

In addition, feedback should be given at a useful stage during the semester, so students can implement appropriate actions based upon the feedback.


Q: What specific strategies can be implemented to ensure feedback is given at a useful stage during the semester?

A: To ensure feedback is given at a useful stage during the semester, institutions can adopt a more structured approach to the timing of assessments and feedback. This could involve setting clear timelines for when feedback will be provided, such as within a week or two after an assessment has been submitted. Additionally, incorporating formative assessments throughout the semester, rather than relying solely on end-of-term assessments, can help provide timely feedback. This approach allows students to reflect on their performance and make necessary adjustments to their learning strategies. Engaging students in the process through student voice initiatives can also help tailor the timing of feedback to meet their needs more effectively.

Q: How can educators encourage students to engage more actively with the feedback provided?

A: Educators can encourage students to engage more actively with feedback by making it more relevant and actionable. This involves providing feedback that is specific to the student's work, highlighting areas of strength as well as areas for improvement. Incorporating student voice in the feedback process can also make feedback feel more personalised and valued. Educators can encourage dialogue by inviting students to discuss their feedback in one-on-one meetings or through digital platforms. This promotes a sense of partnership in the learning process and can motivate students to take a more active role in their own learning and improvement.

Q: How can the sense of community be improved in large classes or when using digital technologies for feedback?

A: Improving the sense of community in large classes or when using digital technologies can be challenging but is achievable through deliberate strategies that promote interaction and connection. One approach is to incorporate more collaborative learning activities that require students to work together, thereby fostering a sense of belonging and community. Utilising digital platforms for group discussions and peer feedback can also help bridge the gap created by physical or digital distance. Incorporating student voice in the design of these activities can ensure they are engaging and relevant. Additionally, personalising feedback through audio or video channels, as mentioned in the blog post, can help create a feeling of closeness and reduce the sense of isolation among students.


[Source Paper] Espasa, Anna, Mayordomo, Rosa M, Guasch, Teresa, and Martinez-Melo, Montserrat. "Does the Type of Feedback Channel Used in Online Learning Environments Matter? Students’ Perceptions and Impact on Learning." Active Learning in Higher Education (2019).
DOI: 10.1177/1469787419891307

[1] Chalmers, Charlotte, Mowat, Elaine, and Chapman, Maggie. "Marking and Providing Feedback Face-to-face: Staff and Student Perspectives." Active Learning in Higher Education 19.1 (2018): 35-45
DOI: 10.1177/1469787417721363

[2] Mason, J, Brunning, R (2001) Providing Feedback in Computer-Based Instruction: What the Research Tells Us.
Available at: Research Gate

[3] Narciss, S, Huth, K (2002) How to design informative tutoring feedback for multi-media learning. In: Niegemann, HM, Leutner, D, Brünken, R (eds) Instructional Design for Multimedia Learning. Münster: Waxmann, pp. 181–95.
Available at: Research Gate

[4] Nicol, D, Macfarlane-Dick, D (2006) Formative assessment and self-regulated learning: A model and seven principles of good feedback practice. Studies in Higher Education 31(2): 199–218.
DOI: 10.1080/03075070600572090

[5] Boud, D, Molloy, E (2013) Rethinking models of feedback for learning: The challenge of design. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education 38(6): 698–712
DOI: 10.1080/02602938.2012.691462

[6] Price, M, Handley, K, Millar, J (2011) Feedback: Focusing attention on engagement. Studies in Higher Education 36(8): 879–96
DOI: 10.1080/03075079.2010.483513

[7] Carless, D (2015) Excellence in University Assessment: Learning from Award-Winning Practice. London: Routledge.
ISBN: 9781138824553

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