Media-enhanced submission and feedback
An introduction to the use of audio and video to support teaching staff and students with assessment and feedback.
Assessment lies at the heart of the learning experience: how learners are assessed shapes their understanding of the curriculum and determines their ability to progress.
Assessment is an integral part of education and more than ever is being intertwined with technology. Jisc has spent over a decade examining technology-enhanced assessment, focusing on the drivers and issues that individuals, departments and institutions face.
In the last five years, one of the components of assessment that has garnered practitioners’ attention is that of using digital media as an aid in the assessment process, particularly surrounding the use of audio and video throughout the assessment lifecycle.
What and Why
The primary people concerned with formative and summative assessment are teachers who need to assess their students and students who need to demonstrate their ability to the teacher.
Methods of written assessment include:
- Essay questions
- Short answer questions
- Multiple-choice questions
- Practical work
The above examples can offer satisfactory results but are restricted to what you are able to convey in written form and this can be limiting with little opportunity to add detailed context to the assessment activity.
“...effective assessment will reflect truthfully some combination of an individual’s abilities, achievement, skills and potential.”
In order to continue to improve the effectiveness of the assessment offering, particularly with regard to supportive feedback, teachers are seeing if the use of digital media can help.
The National Students survey is one of the key indicators used to see how institutions are scoring against a range of key issues. One of the sections asks explicitly about ‘assessment and feedback’. The questions are shown below:
- Feedback on my work has been prompt
- I have received detailed comments on my work
- Feedback on my work has helped me clarify things I did not understand
The average score for each of the above questions in the 2011 and 2012 surveys was under 60% across the United Kingdom (see the survey for country by country breakdown) and shows that there is still plenty of room for improvement for teaching staff to improve feedback and assessment methods.
Andrew Middleton, at Sheffield Hallam University describes the benefits of using audio for assessment in ‘Audio feedback timely media interventions’ as:
- Offering timeliness
- Contextual feedback
- Easy to do
- Easy to give to students and reusable (including student e-portfolios)
It should be clear to see that using digital media could be one potential tool to help address the current issues around assessment and the student experience. If digital media can help to improve student support then this could have a positive effect on their experience and thus improve future survey results.
A teacher may decide that the assessment activity instructions could be clearer, with the use of a guided on-screen tour made by using screencast techniques. A screencast can record audio descriptions and visualise any examples or detailed contextual instructions, to set clear expectations for the student. As a result, this should help to ensure that the students’ submissions meet the expected aims of the activity, as there were a clear set of guidelines for what was required of them.
Uses during assessment
Assessment activity can be broadly split into the following order, notwithstanding any digital media that is used to provide teaching and learning context ahead of an activity (See the later project examples and further reading to see specific real-world examples):
Setting an assessment task - The task may have digital media at its focus e.g. “watch the provided video clip and provide a critique of the production values” or used for setting of the actual task itself to demonstrate what is expected of the student with use of a contextual video instruction. See the later project examples to see this in action
Submitting an assessment - The student may be asked to provide one or more digital media submissions such as a video of them performing the set activity e.g. a screencast with the student working through a maths challenge with narration
- Providing feedback to student - The teacher uses audio or video to provide feedback to individual students and/or a group.
Dealing with submission
When you ask students to submit a digital media assignment, there are some considerations that you will need to bear in mind for a successful process.
Sending the submission
Digital media files tend to be fairly large in file size compared to traditional text files. In order to send and receive audio and video submissions, you will need a “digital dropbox” to receive files and provide a confirmation so that the student knows the file was received. Some institutions have implemented this within their VLE whilst others, particularly during the exploratory small-scale phase, use third-party platforms.
Key issues and processes to consider include:
- Checking your institution’s data protection guidelines
- Archiving procedures for your institution’s digital media files
- File-naming conventions e.g. course code-surname-initials to stop confusion
- Confirmation of receipt
- Public vs private access to the digital media files
- Accepted digital media file formats
- Sustainability for future reference - e-portfolios may be used
The Jisc Institutional Submission & Management System for Assessment of Open-Ended Assignments project includes detailed explanations for the above and more and is worth reading before developing your own submission plans.
Using digital media to provide feedback
There are a number of ways that the teacher may choose to provide feedback. The choice of technique will be based on considerations such as the type of feedback required and the way the feedback will be delivered to the student. MELSIG, which is a collective of self-organised academics and support staff, has been investigating the use of digital media for assessment since 2006 with funding from Jisc. The Media‐Enhanced Feedback case studies and methods document (pdf) by members of MELSIG provides a great overview of the perceived benefits, challenges and findings from several years of exploration. Overall the projects report positive findings for both students and staff.
Audio feedback can be defined as formative messages, recorded and distributed as digital audio given to individual students or student groups in response to both ongoing and submitted work, allowing each student to develop their knowledge and the way they learn.
The Jisc-funded Sounds Good: Quicker, better assessment using audio feedback project used audio feedback to deliver digital sound files containing feedback to students via a virtual learning environment, email and mobile devices such as widely-available MP3 players. The project had the involvement of 38 lecturers from four institutions who supplied audio feedback to at least 1,201 students at all educational levels, from foundation degree and first-year undergraduate to doctoral. The original project proved positive with students and staff from the four institutions still actively using audio feedback five years later.
The visual nature of video means that its use can be valuable for providing additional cues that add further context to audio feedback. The Jisc-funded ASSET Project explored using video for video feedback provision and found it had a positive impact on students and teaching staff.
The final project report used focus groups and questionnaires to evaluate the use of video and states that 80% of students were happy for the lecturer to continue using video for feedback. The findings also demonstrated that the use of video changed how both students and staff thought about the planning and use of feedback.
“Through an institutional approach to project engagement we have been able to secure a positive response from a wide range of staff and students to the use of video for feedback provision. For example, staff have indicated that using video has made them think more, and in some cases differently, about the ways in which they deliver feedback to students to make it more useful and engaging.
The drivers to use digital media in assessment and feedback are to seek ways to improve the student experience and to improve internal processes. The primary driver of course is the student, with the teacher producing assessment activities with digital media either being part of the activity or as as an output that the student needs to produce. Because digital media can be flexible, it may be able to have a wide scope within assessment particular for the student to demonstrate skills such as reasoning and reflection and the teacher providing ever detailed feedback in response. The results of which may follow students through all levels of learning via an e-portfolio.
There is a continuously growing body of further reading from projects making use of digital media. In addition to reading the findings of previous Jisc projects on assessment, we have some helpful guides that will give you the ability to create your own feedback and assist students in their creation of materials.
JISC Digital Media
- Getting started with creating your own video
- Portable Digital Audio Recorders
- Using audio feedback for Assessment
- Screencasting Workflow
- Getting Started with Digital Media for Assessment webinar
- Using audio in teaching and learning
- Technology-enhanced assessment, Jisc
- FASTECH: Feedback and Assessment for Students with Technology, Jisc
- http://www.jisc.ac.uk/whatwedo/programmes/usersandinnovation/soundsgood.aspx Jisc
- Transforming Assessment and Feedback, JISC infonet
- Assessment and Feedback Programme, Jisc
- Assessment and Feedback Topics, Jisc
- Assessment and Feedback Tools and Resources, JISC infoNet
- Webinar: Getting-started-with-digital-media-for-assessment
- Understanding assessment: its role in safeguarding academic standards and quality in higher education, Second edition