A Case Study: Audio Video Feedback in the Online Grade Book

The Educational Challenge

Effective feedback in the classroom is crucial for effective assessment. Assessment in general is an important component to the educational process. Summative assessment is used in education for student achievement, grading, determination for advancement and the driving force for the educational system flow. Formative assessment, is a process that is dynamic, parallels the student’s progress and learning processes and offers a knowledge status meant to increase student learning.

In order to increase student engagement and learning, effective feedback during the assessment process is crucial. In the online classroom there are even greater challenges posed by the avenues and media available for feedback.

As stated in the article by John Orlando (2011), titled, Improve Feedback with Audio and Video Commentary, “While online discussion is generally deeper and more active than face-to-face discussion, even online discussions can eventually become a drudgery. Nobody likes reading long blocks of text online, yet discussion in an online classroom is text based…One way to break the monotony is through audio or video-based discussion. The sound of a voice adds interest that is not possible in text discussion.”

As stated by Greg Kulowiec (2014) in Providing Feedback on Student Writing and Video, “By incorporating audio and video feedback, teachers have even more opportunities to connect with their students as they can choose the modality to best support their learning preferences.”

Dan Martin (2015), offers 5 values to video feedback in his conference presentation titled, Using Video Feedback in Online and Mediated Writing Courses 

  • Deemphasize Grades and Grading
  • Create New Spaces for Teaching and Learning
  • Create Deeper Levels of Personalization
  • Create Deeper Levels of Motivation
  • Control Our Tone and Disposition

This paper will discuss the advantages and disadvantages to audio video feedback (A/V Feedback) in the online classroom to help increase the effectiveness of feedback to promote student engagement and learning in the online classroom, as well as, presents and discusses a case study that was conducted at one online school.

Parse the Technology

In order for audio vidual feedback to be implemented there are several requirements for the hardware, software, learning management system, assignment, instructor and student.





Basic hardware that is needed to create the audio/visual feedback would be a computer with a display screen, microphone, speakers and microphone.




There are various software programs that can be used for the audio/visual file. Some options are Jing, ScreenR, and Screen-o-Matic. There are limits on the video time for some of these programs. But that too is something that is to be considered. What are the optimal playing times for A/V Feedback?





Learning Management System

Depending on the Learning Management System would determine the capabilities and options available to you for inclusion of the A/V Feedback file.

For example, Canvas includes a Media Comment Tool in its interface for instructors to use ti produce the A/V Feedback. As stated on theor press release, “Using the Media Comment tool, Canvas users can record audio and video from the microphone and camera of their computers or mobile devices. Recordings can then be saved and shared within Canvas announcements, assignments, discussions, grades and more.” (Instructor, 2014).

Most other learning management systems such as Angel, eCollege and Blackboard will allow you to include the A/V file as an attachment unless it is something that you have posted online for example on YouTube which you can then embed into the gradebook dialogue box.




Depending on the type of assignment would determine the best A/V feedback to use. More often then not, the online assignments are typically papers or presentations. For these types of assignments then, they need to be prepared first with comments and other markings so that when they are brought up on the screen, then, these markings and/or comments will appear in view and can be specifically referenced by the instructor for the feedback audio message.




A/V Feedback must be created and delivered by the instructor. The instructor must learn the necessary skills to create and post the audio and video for the assignments. It does take extra time and preparation, but the final product is something that is beneficial for the student.



In order for the A/V Feedback to be effective, it must be viewed and implemented by the student to promote engagement and learning. The student must have the appropriate hardware and sofware to view the A/V Feedback as well as the assignment in hand so as to increase the effectiveness and corrective measures the A/V feedback is promoting.


Example Video

Here is an example on how to grade papers using Google Docs and Jing.

Media embedded March 5, 2016


The Underlying Learning Theory

Feedback is part of the assessment process of the education. A/V Feedback is an example of formative assessment being that it delivers personalized feedback to the student based on the student’s assignment and current learning.

Formative Assessment has its roots in a variety of educational learning theories. According to Mary James in her work titled, Assessment, Teaching and Theories of Learning, (2006), “For example, constructivist rhetoric can be found in behaviorist approaches and the boundary between cognitivist constructivism and social constructivism is indistinct “

Mary James continues and highlights specifics from some learning theories to illustrate how they contribute in part to the the delivered formative assessment strategies.

“According to [behaviorist] theories the environment for learning is the determining factor. Learning is viewed as the conditioned response to external stimuli. Rewards and punishments, or at least the withholding of rewards, are powerful ways of forming or extinguishing habits. Praise may be part of such a reward system. These theories also take the view that complex wholes are assembled out of parts so learning can best be accomplished when complex performances are deconstructed and when each element is practiced and reinforced and subsequently built upon…Learning, under [cognitive, constructivist theories of learning], requires the active engagement of learners and is determined by what goes on in people’s heads…According to [socio-cultural, situated and activity theories of learning] occurs in interaction between the individual and the social environment. “

One may also see Edwards Thorndike’s theory on Connectionism and in particular the Laws of Effect “which states that responses which occur just prior to a satisfying state of affairs are more likely to be repeated, and responses just prior to an annoying state of affairs are more likely NOT to be repeated” illustrated through successful results related to A/V feedback in regards to repeating what was done well and not repeated what was one done well, as well as, Thorndike’s  Law of Exercise  “where connections become strengthened with practice, and weaken when practice is discontinued” with the repeated and timely  A/V feedback. Furthermore, the student can review the video feedback multiple times as seen fit for a progression in the learning process.

In essence teachers will combine theories when designing and implementing formative assessment. Being that the nature of formative assessment relies on the insights and perspectives into a student’s learning, knowledge level and capabilities, all learning theories must be looked at as a pool of possible learning and instructional strategies. Therefore, formative assessment can not be thought of as an expresison of any one learning theory.

Case Studies

I was part of a committee that conducted a case study in the use of A/V Feedback for online students. There were 13 instructors who participated in this case study. We each chose one assignment from our course and offered A/V feedback to all students for this assignment.

The assignment was a written document in Word that was uploaded to the assignment drop box by the student. All the assignments had appropriate instructions and rubrics. When we graded the assignment, we first corrected the assignment using comments and markups in Word and uploaded this file to the assignment drop box. Then we used the same graded assignment as the object on the screen as we created the A/V feedback. Various A/V software were used. I used Jing for my A/V feedback. The students were then given a survey after they reviewed the assignment and A/V feedback.

Another study was conducted by Josh McCarthy at the University of South Australia (2015). As stated in the case study titled, Evaluating Written, Audio and Video Feedback in Higher Education Summative Assessment Tasks, “The study was conducted in the first half of 2014 within the course Design Language in Media Arts at the University of South Australia in Australia, and included 77 students. Three different feedback models, audio, video and written-based, were trialed for summative assessment during the semester.

Technological Issues

Issues in the availability of the equipment, the equipment properly working, the instructor skilled in and able to use the equipment effectively, as well as, the students being able to receive and view the feedback properly are all issues in this process to work and effectively increase student engagement and learning.

Instructor Experiences

Some feedback from the instructors on their experiences were that it can take more time to implement A/V feedback. specifically, when they first started. However, the more they conducted the feedback via A/V, the more comfortable they were with the tools and process. It was important to identify assignments that made sense to conduct A/V feedback rather than to do all of them. It was advantageous to have additional handouts available for students to refer to after reviewing the video to reiterate points. The availability of the handout should be noted in the video. In general, it is best if the instructor reviews the assignment prior to clicking ‘record.’ If they are not prepared, then they will likely miss key items or ramble on making the feedback ineffective or incomplete.

McCarthy offered the following information from his case study, “The varying time frames associated with delivering each feedback model has a clear impact on a teacher’s ability to incorporate them into a curriculum. With a small class size it is much easier to experiment with different feedback techniques and spend more time with formats such as video. If the class size is large however, there may not be the opportunity to utilize such techniques, given the desire, as well as the expectation, to provide timely feedback.”

Student Experiences

In regards to the case study that was done, all the students that responded, liked getting A/V feedback.  They preferred the written feedback included with the A/V video. When the assignment was on the screen as the instructor spoke, they liked that they could see what the instructor was talking about. They felt encouraged and not put off by all the markups, but instead, understood them better.  Overall, they liked the detail of the written feedback as well as the personal touch of the audio and video feedback.

Here are some of the students’ comments.




McCarthy student’s commented as follows:

  • I thought the video feedback was excellent. Being told what you did wrong, what you could improve on and what you did right is good, but actually seeing it with an explanation helps you take it on board. (Male, local, 17-18)
  •  I felt that it was very easy to pinpoint what you were commenting on. Once again, it felt personalized and you can’t rush through video feedback. (Male, local, 19-24)
  •  It is more personal – it is almost like face to face feedback. (Female, international, 19-24)
  • It’s a good feedback method for film projects and digital media projects. (Male, local, 25-34)

Survey Results

50 students results were gathered and used for the following graphs.


Here is a table offering a look at the results of McCarthy’s study.



Critical Analysis

A/V Feedback can be seen as beneficial inclusion for the online classroom. It will add to the effectiveness of formative assessment, incfrease student engagement and ultimately learning. As Phil Ice demostrated in the article titled “Using Asynchronous Audio Feedback to Enhance Teaching Presence and Students’ Sense of Community” (2007), the power of voice when he compared voice feedback on assignments to text feedback. He found a number of advantages to voice feedback:

  • Improved Ability to Understand Nuance: Students indicated that they were better able to understand the instructor’s intent. Students also indicated that instructor encouragement and emphasis were clearer.
  • Increased Involvement: Students felt less isolated in the online environment and were more motivated to participate when hearing their instructor’s voice.
  • Increased Content Retention: Students reported that they retained audio feedback better than text feedback. Interestingly, they also reported that they retained the course content to which the feedback was related better than with text feedback. These self-reported findings were supported by the fact that students incorporated into their final projects three times as much audio feedback as text feedback.
  • Increased Instructor Caring: Students interpreted the instructor as caring about them and their work more when they received audio feedback over text feedback. This difference was due to audio feedback coming across as more personal than text feedback.

As stated in agreement by Amanda Rockinson-Szapkiw in her article titled, Should Online Doctoral Instructors Adopt Audio Feedback as an Instructional Strategy? Preliminary Evidence (2012), “Oomen-Early, Bold, Wiginton, Gallien, and Anderson’s (2008) study of a 156 online undergraduate and graduate students further supported these qualitative research results. Via a researcher created survey, Oomen-Early et al. (2008) discovered that students found audio feedback helpful and easy to use. Student purported that audio feedback assisted them in engaging in course content. Lunt and Curran (2010) conducted a similar study that rendered similar results. Twenty six students, using a Lickert scale and open ended question survey, positively evaluated audio feedback. They also reported that they were ten times more likely to open audio files than read written feedback. Lunt and Curran (2010) and Nortcliffe and Middleton (2011) also examined instructors’ perceptions of using audio versus written feedback; they found that instructors, in some cases, found that providing feedback in audio format was efficient. The findings of these studies suggest that audio feedback may be one strategy that instructors can use to assist online doctoral students in learning and applying research and statistical concepts in their course work. Audio feedback may also increase students’ teacher presence and a sense of community.”

The major drawback for A/V Feedback is the time it takes instructors to create them for each student for each assignment. In a typical online class you may have 40 to 50 students with 3 assignments or more each week per student. This would be a daunting task to include A/V feedback for each student and each assignment. Also, the preceived benefits of doing so is completed devoid if the student never views or uses them.

Here is a table from the McCarthy study offering a summary of the cost and time implications and affordances and limitations of each feedback model.



Conclusions and Recommendations

Offering A/V Feedback and other A/V interactions in the online classroom is highly recommended. While the A/V Feedback may not be feasible for each student and each assignment, it can be used for just some major assignments rather than each assignment. Or, it can be restricted to perhaps students at risk or students that require more assistance with their learning and assignments. As stated by McCarthy, “when time and resources allow for it, video feedback has proven to be a highly valued format by students working in visual-based fields of study”

As further stated in the Canvas press release, “In addition to bringing humanness into online education, Canvas’ audio and video capabilities ensure accessibility for users of all abilities and provide a range of pedagogical choices for teachers.”

It is recommended that all Learning Management System include in the gradebook dialogue box the optional tool for A/V feedback so that it can be created and added with ease by the instructor. The instructor would only need to prepare the student’s assignment with comments or markings for the areas where the additional instruction is needed which can then be displayed on the screen as the video is playing and the instructor offers the personalized audio comments and instructions.

Furthermore, it has to be a school wide initiative where all instructors use it so that it can be expected to be there by the student therefore to facilitate and encourage them to view and use the feedback.


Blackboard. (2016). Blackboard Learn. Retrieved from http://www.blackboard.com/learning-management-system/blackboard-learn.aspx.

Ice, P., Curtis, R., Phillips, P. & Wells, J. (2007). Using Asynchronous Audio Feedback to Enhance Teaching Presence and Students’ Sense of Community. Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks, 11(2), 3-25.

Instructure. (2016). Canvas. Retrieved from https://canvas.instructure.com/login/canvas.

Kulowiec, G. (2014). Providing Feedback on Student Writing and Video. Retrieved from http://www.edudemic.com/providing-feedback-student-writing-video/

Martin, P. (2015). Using Video Feedback in Online and Mediated Writing Courses. Retrieved from http://tandtprojects.cah.ucf.edu/~pmartin/VideoFeedback/video2.html

Mayer, A. (2012). How to Grade Papers using Google Docs and Jing. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OE3cP22fG30.

McCarthy, J. (2015). Evaluating Written, Audio and Video Feedback In Higher Education Summative Assessment Tasks. Retrieved from http://www.iier.org.au/iier25/mccarthy.pdf.

Orlando, J. (2011). Improve Feedback with Audio and Video Commentary. Retrieved from http://www.facultyfocus.com/articles/teaching-with-technology-articles/improve-feedback-with-audio-and-video-commentary/.

Pearson. (2016). eCollege Retrieved from http://www.ecollege.com/index.php.

Rockinson-Szapkiw, A. J. (2012). Should Online Doctoral Instructors Adopt Audio Feedback as an Instructional Strategy? Preliminary Evidence. Retrieved from http://ijds.org/Volume7/IJDSv7p245-258Szapkiw0359.pdf.

Screenr. (2016). Screenr. Retrieved from https://www.screenr.com/.

Techsmith. (2016). Jing. Retrieved from https://www.techsmith.com/jing.html.

Wikipedia. (2016). Edward Thorndike. Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edward_Thorndike/.


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