On Friday I attended an audio feedback workshop here at the University of Leicester. The general aim was to look at good practice in the use of audio feedback. We started by writing limericks about the Olympics (surprisingly tricky) and drawing a cartoon to ilustrate our limerick (unsurprisingly tricky). We then gave written feedback to each others' efforts and discussed our feelings about the feedback. We then repeated the excercise, based on our feedback, and this time used a variety of recording devices to give audio feedback.
The general view was that it is much more difficult to get started with audio feedback, as many felt inhibited by the 'performance' aspect of it. However, it was felt that this sort of anxiety could reduce with time and practice.
The plus points about audio feedback are:
- It is more personal, and feels more like a conversation. Even though it is a monologue, the person listening acts as if they were in a two-way conversation (i.e. they nod, that sort of thing).
- It is easier to get across more difficult feedback such as criticism - it is explained better.
- Audio feedback is like a mini lecture, there is more detail and information. And you can say much more in two minutes of speaking than you could do if you spent just two minutes trying to write.
Negative points about audio feedback:
- It could be time consuming, especially if, as suggested, students would prefer written feedback too.
- It requires an element of 'performance' which some people may not be able to manage - i.e. it could be monotonous.
- There was a worry that people's recordings could end up on YouTube.
I think that the worry about workload is obviously a valid one, but I wonder whether this desire for audio and written feedback from students is because they are used to written feedback, and expect it. Perhaps they will become used to audio feedback and the desire for written feedback will drop off. So maybe given the positive elements of audio feedback it is worth persevering initially with this extra workload as a kind of 'loss leader'.