Why I love Audio Feedback!

In 2012, I was asked to trial this relatively new programme, ‘Turnitin’ for online assessment handling in what was then the Media School. I was a luddite at the time, convinced that students submitting essays online just wasn’t for me; I liked to write all over the essays—how could I possibly do that online? And sit in front of a screen for hours on end?


Our learning technologist at the time, Tamsyn Smith (now at University of Southampton), taught me how to create quickmarks, where I could have pre-set comments that I would just drag and drop onto an essay—it sufficed, in combination with written feedback. But I couldn’t just yet see the benefits of online marking. My workload wasn’t any easier, in fact, all that time spent upfront creating the quickmarks actually cost me time—I was marking online, but reluctantly.

But one day that all changed. Tamsyn walked into my office, mentioned ‘audio feedback’, and the rest is history!

TurnitIn had just launched “audio feedback”, and BU needed to see if it was viable. My first-year cohort had grown to 120 students (those were the days!), three-week turnaround was now firm policy and I was marking alone.

Audio feedback was fabulous. Easy-to-use, simply log on and start recording for three minutes. I was able to pause while reading essays, so it all went relatively quickly. So quickly in fact that I save 24 hours of physical marking time, or about 5 days! I loved it!

But what did the students think?

I conducted some focus groups with the students and they told me “it felt like a tutorial”, “it was so easy to read along with you”, “I liked that I didn’t have to go into uni to collect my feedback”.  I carried out more focus groups as I continued to use the programme and got similar responses.

But what did the academic literature say? Was I short-changing my students by leaving audio feedback? No!  Were they actually getting enough feedback? Yes!  Was I doing my job as an educator? Yes!

In fact, I was giving them MORE feedback than I could have ever possibly written. I was leaving each student about 1250-1500 words of feedback by speaking, rather than the measly couple of hundred that I could have swung if I was writing.

I only mark using audio feedback now. It saves me time AND the students are getting in-depth feedback, it’s a win-win to my mind.

I frequently get asked if you should write the comments first and then speak them? Why waste that time?! It might take you one or two to get into the flow, but leave the feedback as you go. Below is a video of how it can be done.

Let me know how you get on by emailing me at: aluce@bournemouth.ac.uk

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