Enhancing feedback using screencast software
The use of audio and visual feedback helps Dr Simon Coupland to provide richer and more personalised feedback for his students.

This case study describes how Simon uses screen capture software to achieve this.

An example of Simon providing feedback in this way can be viewed in the video player above. The video has been obscured to preserve anonymity.

Project Lead
Dr Simon Coupland
Faculty of Technology


Objectives and Approach
Dr Simon Coupland is a Senior Research Fellow teaching on MSc Intelligent Systems and Robotics in the Faculty of Technology at De Montfort University.

After seeing how screencast software can be used to capture screen content and audio as part of a basic lecture capture package, Simon began to think about other applications of such software and how he may be able to enhance the feedback that he provides for students studying Intelligent Mobile Robots.

Traditionally, the students would hand in a paper assignment and Simon would mark these by hand before returning the marked assignments to the students.

This was quite a timely process and Simon felt that written comments were not as personalised and rich as they could be. Therefore Simon looked at alternative ways in which he could package the feedback and return this to his students in order to save time and provide more depth to his feedback.

Simon decided to try capturing feedback in an audio format and although this provided a more personalised experience, it was hard for the students to relate the feedback to specific parts of the assignment and therefore Simon started to look at ways in which he could visually reference the assignment alongside the audio feedback.

By using screencast software, Simon now marks his students work electronically by reading through the document on screen and speaking aloud to his computer with a microphone attached. As Simon speaks his feedback, he will use his mouse to highlight the paragraph(s) that he is talking about and all of the audio and screen activity is captured using screencast software.

The result is a video, usually around four minutes in duration, which shows Simon moving through the student’s submission with Simon’s audio feedback too.

This combination of not only capturing audio feedback but also capturing the screen so that the students can see what Simon is referencing in his audio narrative is a very powerful feedback tool. Not only does it save Simon time when marking, his students receive much more personalised feedback as the tone of voice comes through, and the use of this technique facilitates more detailed feedback and this makes for a rich experience.

Simon’s students say:

“I really liked this method of giving feedback.  It made it much more personal and it also meant that the real meaning of the words came across.  I particularly liked the way you went through the report as you were talking to show the areas you were referring to”

“The Feedback is brilliant”

“Perfect way to get a very illustrative explanation of the marking and what was good or could be improved. I really like it”

“I think the video feedback worked really well, there was a lot more detail than we usually get and some useful tips”

Future Developments
At the moment, Simon does have to encode his videos to ensure maximum cross platform compatibility and the feedback videos are delivered to students via the Blackboard Grade Centre for students to download from My Grades.

Simon Coupland uses Microsoft Expression to capture screen and audio but other screencast software is available to try. In the future, software such as Panopto may provide an even richer and more accessible experience by providing functions such as feedback videos being accessible in the browser, students being able to make electronic notes on their feedback and videos being indexed and searchable for easy navigation.

For DMU staff, with the roll-out of the new Polycom telephones as part of the MS Lync project, every staff member now has a high quality microphone plugged into their computer’s USB port. Therefore replication of practice such as Simon’s use of screen cast software and generating audio only feedback is closer than ever.

Each of the CELT ELT Project Officers will be happy to support staff members in exploring the use of such techniques.

CELT Case Studies
If you would like to have your eLearning practices captured and disseminated in a similar case study, please contact your Faculty ELT Project Officer

This case study was prepared by:
Ian Pettit (CELT)