University of Delaware
When we speak of student engagement, we include a variety of behaviors both in and out of the classroom. Among these behaviors is students’ engagement with the feedback we provide on their assignments. Often we wonder how carefully students consider the comments we put on drafts or finished, graded papers or if the comments are even read at all. An innovative approach for providing feedback on student work in a variety of disciplines is the use of screen capture videos (Mathisen). These videos allow for the recording of what is on the instructor's screen (for example, a student paper) accompanied by audio narration describing strengths and weaknesses of the work being discussed as well as any edits that the instructor is making on the page. Once created, the video is available to the student for repeated viewing. Research indicates these videos provide more concrete and effective guidance for students and a higher level of student engagement than traditional written comments and rubrics (Jones, Georghiades, & Gunson, 2012; Thompson & Lee, 2012).
This technique can be employed beyond providing feedback to individual students. For example, instructors can create a library of short videos annotating and commenting on models of excellent student work. Additionally, by using course capture software in conjunction with these screen capture videos, instructors can record students in the process of providing feedback and commentary on their peers’ work and can store these collaboratively created recordings as an archival resource to guide students during their completion of an assignment. Below is a description of how you can quickly adopt each of these three approaches.
Individual Video Feedback: The Basics
Creating the Video
Creating video feedback doesn’t require a lot of technical expertise or an investment of time. Using widely available free or inexpensive software (see Tools and Resources below) allows you to “talk” through a student’s paper much as you would do in a face-to-face conference. Simply open the student paper on your computer and run the screen-capture software. As you scroll through the paper highlighting sections or even typing comments, your narrative further explains and reinforces the points you’re making. If you want, you can pause the recording to scroll through the paper or to decide what you want to say next. Successful technique does not require a polished video or time spent rehearsing or editing (Henderson & Phillips, 2014); instead, speak conversationally and naturally. Not only will this be more welcoming to the student, but it will save time and make giving feedback more efficient. Once you’ve finished, save the file and return it to the student.
Here is a brief clip showing an example:
Distributing the Video
Once the video is created, you need to return it to your student. Some learning management systems (LMS) have a built-in tool for providing screen capture comments on papers. However, even without an integrated tool, it is relatively easy to distribute your video. E-mail is one way to do this, but there are more efficient methods that obviate the need for downloading and uploading of files. For example, Screencastify, a free plugin for Google’s Chrome browser, allows you to make a screen capture of your student’s paper.
Once the video is recorded, Screencastify automatically saves the video to a folder in your Google Drive. From there, you can share the link with your student by pasting the link to the video on your student’s paper.
Saving Time and Benefiting Your Students
One of the benefits of providing video feedback is that it can be done more quickly than written comments (Henderson & Phillips, 2014). In general, keep your video short. Usually, four to five minutes will be sufficient ("Technology Mediated Assessment Feedback"). Although you might want to quickly read the paper once to decide on the features to highlight, as noted above, you don’t need a carefully scripted presentation.
Another advantage of screen capture feedback is that the sound of your voice (and, if you wish, a small picture-in-picture inset of your face as you talk by enabling your computer’s webcam as you record) creates a more personal experience for the student. Studies have found that overall students enjoy video feedback and “preferred this form of engagement to traditional written comments” (Thompson & Lee, 2012). They also find this feedback to be clearer and more thorough (Ryan, Henderson & Phillips, 2017).
Creating a Library of Sample Work
Applying the same techniques described above also allows you to create a library of exemplary student writing that you can share with your students. Students often appreciate seeing a good paper, and although they may instinctively recognize excellent work, they may not be able to articulate the specific factors that make it so. As with the individual feedback, an annotated video describing and showing the characteristics of exemplary work can help bridge this gap.
Depending on how detailed you want to be, it may take a little longer to decide how to evaluate the paper in the video, but once you’ve created it, you have a permanent resource. In addition, distributing sample videos like this is very straightforward and even easier than returning individual videos since you are making something for everyone (not just the individual student) to view. Simply upload the video directly to a shared page in your LMS or share it online if you want to create a teaching channel on YouTube.
Capturing Collaboratively Created Student Feedback
If your institution has automatic recording of your classroom’s projection system, it is easy to take the idea of video feedback one step further by capturing a class in which you guide students in providing feedback to their peers. Projecting a draft of a student paper on the screen and having students discuss it actively engages them in something that they have a clear stake in: how to do well on an assignment. Since this session is being automatically captured, it requires no extra work on your part to have a reviewable, resource for your students. This technique works well in a class where you already require students to post rough drafts and to provide peer feedback, though it could be adapted to other contexts.
Using one or two selected drafts, guide the class through providing feedback. As the students make comments and offer suggestions, you can model for them how to effectively comment on classmates' papers and indicate specific instances where a paper is succeeding as well as places that it needs work. Once the class is finished, since the session has been automatically recorded and saved, students can watch it later to remember not only what you said but what they added to the discussion.
Whether you try only one or all three of these techniques, you may find that using video to give feedback not only saves you time but helps you accomplish what you want to with your feedback in the first place—to connect with and engage students as you help them master the things you teach.
Tools and Resources
Techsmith’s Jing is very basic and easy to use. The free version limits you to 5-minute videos in flash format. You also get 2 GB of free storage on Screencast.com for your videos if you want to share them there.
Screencastify works through Google’s Chrome browser and automatically saves videos to your Google Drive. The free version allows you to make 10-minute videos and limits you to 50 videos per month. The paid version is $24/year and has no length restrictions. It also allows an unlimited number of videos per month.
Open Broadcast Studio is a free, open-source platform for both video capturing and streaming live video. It is much more sophisticated than the other options. It offers a lot of features for editing and creating “scenes made up of multiple sources including window captures, images, text, browser windows, webcams.”
Henderson, M., & Phillips, M. (2014) Technology enhanced feedback on assessment. Paper presented at the Australian Computers in Education Conference 2014, Adelaide, SA.
Mathisen, P. (2012). Video feedback in higher education -A contribution to improving the quality of written feedback. Nordic Journal of Digital Literacy 7, 97-116.
Nigel, J., Georghiades, P, & Gunson, J, (2012) Student feedback via screen capture digital video: stimulating student's modified action. Higher Education Vol. 64, No. 5 (November 2012), pp. 593-607
Ryan, T., Henderson, M. & Phillips, M. (2017) Written Feedback Doesn't Make Sense. Retrieved April 22, 2019.