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Creating personalised video feedback for remote learners

Samir Nuseibeh, Department of Biochemical Engineering, shares how he developed screencast video feedback to create a more meaningful, personalised experience for his students.

Student with headphones at laptop. Image by Christina-Wocintechchat / Unsplash

4 January 2022

During the Connected Learning period of the pandemic, I decided to pilot a new process for delivering assessment feedback on the postgraduate module, Pre-clinical and Clinical Analysis of Advanced Therapies (BENG0084). The module was delivered in Term 1, 2020-1 when we were all continuing to work from home and when students remained as remote learners with no access to the campus. 

Videos of myself grading student assignment submissions addressed two main aims:  

  1. To improve on the traditional, written feedback style.  

  1. To reduce the anonymity sometimes associated with distance learning by creating a more personalised feel to the feedback. 

I recorded myself live as I ran through the manuscripts highlighting good practice and informing on how to improve in other areas. Each student on the module received an individual video for each of their submissions and was later asked to fill out a questionnaire to capture their thoughts on the process, the responses to which were overwhelmingly positive. 

Only got 2 minutes?

Jump straight to Samir's 5 top tips for piloting video feedback

Why video feedback?  

I took this approach off the back of the experience I had gained during the lockdown period regarding the production of videos for learning materials. Since we had to record everything and deliver teaching materials online, I recognised that I could use the same techniques to do the same for feedback delivery. It was a very simple and easy continuation of what I had already been doing in terms of content creation during the connected learning period. 

"Creating videos to provide feedback to students on their assignments is a relatively new technique, but extremely rewarding. It gives the tutor the ability to speak more fluidly over the quality of a student’s assignment and really push forward the explanation of where things can be improved" - Samir Nuseibeh, Lecturer (Teaching), Biochemical Engineering 

Video feedback is not new in higher education and literature can be found on the approach taken elsewhere but, as far as I understand, it is a novel approach here at UCL (Although if you having been doing the same, please do share any tips or lessons learned!). Some colleauges are also using GoReact for feeding back on student assessments that have been created and submitted in video - a related but different practice. 

Resources needed 

In total, I created 64 assessment feedback videos for the 2020-21 module. I followed up with a student questionnaire, completed and analysed by the end of July 2021. 

Hardware and software 

Technically, all I needed to complete this work was a computer along with a microphone (in my case a headset) and a decent webcam.

The necessary software is already provided via UCL or freely available.  I used free screencasting software to generate the videos and, once all the marking had been completed. I chose Open Broadcast Software (OBS) but other options include Screencastify or Screencast-o-matic

The videos themselves were sent to students individually via UCL Dropbox. 

Hardware for making recordings (webcam and headset) were also provided for by UCL.  

Time commitment 

The length of time it took to prepare the videos was dependent on the assignment itself and the quality of the manuscript (e.g. poorer submissions required more feedback). However, realistically, it took anything between 30-50 minutes to read a manuscript, grade it according to the associated rubric and provide the feedback via a screen-cast video recording.  

The videos themselves lasted anything between 10 and 20 minutes (again, dependent on the manuscript and the assignment itself).  

It was time-consuming at first, but once I had a working protocol in place, I found it much simpler than providing feedback via Turnitin or Moodle Assignment.  

Staff development 

UCL Arena colleagues have been instrumental in shaping the study into a workable proposition and helped to design the follow-up questionnaire. 

Benefits for tutors 

Assessment feedback involves two parties – the student and the tutor. I found that not only did the students benefit from the more detailed and personalised feedback, I too (as the tutor) benefitted in the sense that providing the feedback became a lot more engaging.  

Being able to record videos of myself verbalising what I am thinking regarding the quality of an assignment was so much easier than thinking of how to explain what I meant via a few sentences in a text box that simply floats vaguely near the relevant section of the text.  

The result was a much more meaningful experience for both myself and the students which indicates that using video feedback can successfully address the age old issue of feedback inadequacy in higher education.  

Student response  

Despite the small number in this cohort (16), the responses to the usefulness of video feedback were incredibly positive. Comments included: 

“I found it to be a really useful form of feedback and felt like I got very personalised feedback for my assignments.” 
“I think the video format of feedback provides extra motivation to complete assignments to the highest standard possible (due to knowing that the feedback will be given in a live and personalised way) in comparison to short written feedback which is less impactful/rewarding when either positive or negative and therefore less motivating.” 

Due to the early days of this pilot study, the impact of this exercise was limited to the students that took this particular module. However, in writing a manuscript based on the evidence collected in via the questionnaire, I plan to share this practice with the wider community. 

Future plans

The video feedback was extremely well received, so I decided to follow up the process officially by designing a questionnaire which would capture the opinion of the cohort regarding their experience in a qualitative and quantitative manner. The responses to the questionnaire were positively skewed in favour of the technique and this work has prompted me to prepare a manuscript to report the study in a pedagogical journal, as well as presentation of the work at a European education-based conference.

The field of video feedback is small, but it is growing and most likely going to continue to do so as we continue to update our practices after the pivot towards remote learning. I plan to continue using video feedback in the running of BENG0084 in the 2021-22 academic year and I will circulate the same questionnaire to get some running responses to the idea involving multiple cohorts. I also hope to expand the use of video feedback in other undergraduate modules to see if the model works in this environment too.

Samir's 5 top tips for piloting video feedback

  1. Select a module that isn’t too large in size (and perhaps at a higher level where more detailed feedback is necessary e.g. FHEQ level 6 or 7).
  2. Get familiar with the idea of screencasting in general – there are plenty of guides out there!
  3. Make sure you have a really good rubric for your assignments.
  4. Make sure you standardise the structure of the feedback delivery whilst recording the videos so that there is continuity for all students.
  5. Practise makes perfect – it may well take a few attempts before you start becoming free-flowing with your feedback recordings.

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