Providing feedback to students is a critical component in any course and perhaps even more important in an online course where the instructor and students are not in the same physical space. Although written feedback is the primary method used when providing feedback to students, some instructors are turning to the use of audio feedback and finding that it is both easy to do and effective. Research has shown that audio feedback can allow for more nuanced messages to the student. It has also been shown to involve the student more deeply in a class and make them feel that the instructor really cares. One study even found an association between the use of audio feedback and better retention of course content.

There are several online tools that allow you to create and share audio clips easily. One that I’ve used recently is Chirbit. You only need a microphone and you can record clips up to five minutes in length. There is no limit to the number of audio posts that you can share on Chirbit. Once you create an audio clip you can mark it as private and then share the link that is provided with your student. Chirbit has a number of other capabilities for sharing clips that you can explore even further, including the ability to attach transcripts or QR codes directly to audio clips.

Consider choosing one assignment next term that you could experiment with by providing audio feedback to students. Some instructors have reported that giving audio feedback is actually more efficient for them than giving written feedback. It is definitely another way to extend your presence in the online classroom.

Some instructors are surprised when they first hear that they should begin preparing for a recorded lecture by writing a script. Some instructors believe that writing a script will take a lot of time, and that using a script will make the finished recording sound like they are reading, and that they should approach their online lectures the same way they do the on-campus ones – without a script.

Preparing a script for an online lecture is an essential step, however, that actually helps to save time and create a higher quality finished lecture.

So why script your lectures?

  1. To Save Time
      You will be surprised how much time and frustration you will save yourself when you are recording lectures. You won’t have as many flubs-ups or wonder if you actually covered everything you were planning on covering only to discover you didn’t. If you do mess up, it’s easier to re-record.
  2. To Keep Online Lectures at an Ideal Length and Quality
      A script will also help you keep track of time. We recommend that online lecture be no longer than 20 minutes (and shorter is better!). This time limit is very hard to achieve when you don’t know how long you plan on talking, or if you go off on a tangent.
      One trick you can do so you don’t sound like you are reading a script is writing your script in a less formal manner. How will you know if it’s less formal? Read it out loud after you write it! If you find yourself getting stuck on words or just find it hard to read, try restating the sentence as though you are just talking with a friend or a student in your office. Also, practice reading your script two or three times before you record; this will make the whole recording process go more smoothly.
  3. To Make Lectures Accessible
      An added bonus to scripting your lectures is that it would be transcribed for students with documented disabilities, or for those for whom English is a second language.

On-campus and online courses meet the same learning outcomes, but the online learning environment is different from the face-to-face environment. Writing a script as the first step in creating your online lecture content is a great way to help you create content that will be effective for online students.

A great example of a lecture that was recorded with a script was done by Julia Goodwin for her HST 104 course World History I: Ancient Civilizations, here is her lecture for week 8

The use of audio recording tools in online classrooms is a great way to incorporate student voice in an otherwise silent environment. Providing students with various methods to give, receive and store information using multiple learning modalities greatly enhances learning.

Instructors can use simple audio recording tools to both deliver course content and assess learning. The recorded voice messages can serve as mini-lectures, clarifications to muddy topics, quick reminders and more. Your students can respond to your voice messages verbally by posting a comment to your recording.

Some ideas for student-generated content include general introductions, interviews, or even a Q&A session with student experts. Audio recording tools are great resources for the foreign language classroom and can be used to assess your students’ speaking skills in the target language.

Here I’ve included a 30 second example of a ‘boo’ (what Audioboo calls their recorded messages) with more information.

Blog: Audioboo Example (mp3)