Tag Archives: audio feedback

Providing audio feedback for students 3: Create a screencast using BB FlashBack Express

In this post we will explore how to provide audio feedback for students using a screencast, and look at two tools available for doing this: Jing and BB Flashback Express.

In an earlier post we explained how to provide audio feedback to your students by creating an audio file that you upload to Moodle. We later explained how you can also embed shorter audio files in a Word document, that you then upload as a response file for the student. This had the advantage of making it clearer to the student which part of their assignment you were talking about in your audio feedback. One way that you could make it really clear to the student what you are talking about is to show them their work as you comment on it. An increasingly popular way to do this is to use screencasting.

A screen cast would allow you to record what happens on your computer screen as well as what you are saying, so you could talk about different sections of a student’s assignment, for example, while displaying those sections on the screen. You then save the recording (usually as an swf file) and upload it as a response file to the student’s work in Moodle in the usual way. Some of the software available allows you to save as a file on your computer, or to upload it to the internet. Given the related issues of data protection, please remember that you should not upload student feedback to a publicly visible internet site, but keep it within the VLE (Moodle).

JISC Digital Media provide a good introduction to screencasting:

JISC Digital Media: Introducing Screen Capture Software

There are plenty of screencasting tools freely available online. If you are using a computer on campus, you will most likely need to contact the IT Services helpdesk in order for them to temporarily override the anti-virus protection while you install the application.


jingSome screencasting tools are more user-friendly than others. We have found that one of the easiest to use is probably Jing. Below is an example of giving feedback using Jing:

Shelley Blake-Plock: An example of Jing used to Comment on Student Work Online

Russell Stannard, a teacher of English for Academic Purposes and expert in using technology in teaching and learning, also uses Jing. From the link below you can listen to him explaining how he uses screencasting to provide feedback for students:

Russell Stannard: How technology can revolutionise the way we give feedback (BBC/ British Council)

Russell also provides an excellent step-by-step guide of how to use Jing:

Russell Stannard: Jing online training videos

One problem you may find with Jing, however, is the length: if you just use the free version there is a maximum recording time of 5 minutes, although arguably this should be enough time to give some relevant feedback to your students.

Jing makes it easy to upload screencasts to the related website, screencast.com, but you should avoid this option when you click on ‘share’ – remember that you should only upload student feedback to the VLE, not to an open internet site.

BB Flashback Express

BB Flashback ExpressAnother free tool that we have experimented with and find quite user-friendly is BB Flashback Express. This tool has the advantage that there is no limit on recording time. If you are not confident using editing tools, you could find this software more confusing if you choose to ‘review’ your recording before ‘exporting’ it. However, you would have the option of changing how the cursor movements appear on the screen or setting the recording to pause when you click on the mouse.

Our screencast below explains how to create a screencast using BB Flashback Express to provide audio feedback:


Providing audio feedback for student assignments 2: Embed audio files in an MS Word document

In our last post we looked at providing audio feedback by creating an audio file and then uploading this as a response file for the student in Moodle. One issue with just providing an audio commentary is that students will not necessarily be able to follow which parts of their work you are talking about unless you use clear ‘signposting’ language for them.

One way to get around this problem is by actually embedding shorter sound clips into their assignments (in MS Word) in the appropriate places (as you would when you insert comments in Word to provide written feedback). You can either record the snippets of feedback as you go along (Insert > Object > Create New > Wave Sound) or embed an audio file that you have previously recorded (Insert > Object > Create from File). As ever, JISC Digital Media provide a useful guide on how to do this:

The screencast below also explains how to record and embed audio files in your Word documents.

Provide audio feedback by embedding audio files in a Word document

Providing audio feedback for student assignments 1: Create an audio file

Glyndŵr’s Centre for Learning, Teaching and Assessment recently published guidelines on standardising content for module sites on Moodle, which include suggestions for additional uses of Moodle to support learning. One idea is that ‘Generic audio feedback on assessments can be provided rapidly‘,  so we thought we would give you some ideas about how to go about this.

As part of the JISC Building Capacity project, Glyndŵr produced some guidance on getting started:

and you can listen to one of lecturers, Mike Bellis, discussing the pros and cons of using of audio feedback as as part of this project:

JISC Digital Media, as usual, provide some excellent guidance on Audio Feedback:

Audio feedback can be provided to students who submit assessments through Moodle in a number of ways:

  1. Create an audio file that you upload as a response file in Moodle
  2. Embed audio files as ‘objects’ in an MS Word document
  3. Use screencasting software to display students’ work as you talk about it.

In this post we’ll explain how to create an audio file. These days there are quite a lot of free online tools around that allow you to create audio recordings quickly and easily (such as Vocaroo or Audioboo). However, we do not recommend that you use these for providing student feedback, as these tools store a copy of your recordings online, and they can then be accessed by anybody with access to the internet. Obviously, given the issue of data protection, we need to use tools that allow us to store feedback files on our own machines and within Moodle (which is not open to the public to view). Another alternative could be to use the in-built Sound recorder (on most Windows machines). However, there are many known issues with using this tool in pre-Vista operating systems, so it might be better to avoid this method too.

So, here are some of the methods we would recommend:

  • We have a number of Ultra Disk voice recorders that are available for staff to borrow (please contact Alicia Owen or Dave Mosford), and we can also provide training on how to use them. You could record your feedback, save it, transfer it to your PC and upload it as a response file when giving feedback to a student on a Moodle assignment. The advantage of these recorders is that the sound quality is really good, and they are portable.
  • Alternatively, if you have a microphone/headset, you could use some of the free, online and downloadable software that allows you to create audio files without them being stored automatically on the internet. Tools like this include Audacity or the AVS audio recorderwhere the file is stored on your machine (not the internet). If you want to keep it simple, then the AVS recorder is probably the best option, and you should just download the recorder (you would have to pay for the editor version anyway). If you are quite confident with the editing side of things, then Audacity provides the editing options for free. If you want to install either of these tools on the machines on campus, you will probably need to contact the IT helpdesk for help downloading (they will need to override the anti-virus protection temporarily). The screencast below explains how to create an AVS recording and upload it as a response file to your student’s assignment.

Provide audio feedback 1: create an audio file using AVS

In the next post on audio feedback we’ll explain how to record and embed audio files into an MS Word document.