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Sounds Good: reflections, challenges. Bob Rotheram E: Sounds Good. ‘Quicker, better assessment using audio feedback’ Coursework: formative, summative, individual, group Leeds Met Leeds Met, Newman, Northampton, York St John [Subject centres: Engineering, GEES].

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sounds good reflections challenges

Sounds Good:reflections, challenges

Bob Rotheram


sounds good
Sounds Good
  • ‘Quicker, better assessment using audio feedback’
  • Coursework:
    • formative, summative, individual, group
  • Leeds Met
  • Leeds Met, Newman, Northampton, York St John
  • [Subject centres: Engineering, GEES]
some numbers
Some numbers
  • £35k + £15k (JISC)
  • 4 HEIs
  • 38 lecturers
  • 1200+ students
  • Cohort sizes: 3 to 151
  • Levels: 1 to doctoral
  • 34 presentations!
tools techniques
Tools, techniques
  • Digital audio feedback
    • MP3 recorders
    • ‘Audacity’ software
    • ‘WIMBA’ voice tools
  • Audio files via:
    • Email
    • VLE
student opinions
Student opinions
  • Students like audio feedback!
    • personal, detail, careful consideration
  • “Very helpful. It felt like the tutor was able to expand more… . Often when you read feedback, things can get misunderstood or meant in a different way. I felt this way was very clear.”
on the other hand
On the other hand…

Some students prefer written feedback

Should staff oblige?

Effort to produce, student ‘skimming’…

Some want audio + written

Whether/how to do it?

staff opinions
Staff opinions
  • Staff like audio feedback:
    • Quality, quantity…
    • “I was able to give … more detailed and pertinent feedback … [It] became almost an online tutorial.”
    • “An ideal medium to assist in the development of skills and confidence of students.”
  • Project manager
from the pgche
From the PGCHE…
  • (New lecturer, on group feedback) “Never have I 'listened' so intently to others' comments on any work I've done. … And it sounded better than I recalled it from the actual session!”
time saving
Time saving?
  • Don’t expect to save time immediately
  • Time to send audio files
    • Problem if many students
  • Best chance of saving staff time if:
    • give lots of feedback
    • write slowly but record speech quickly
    • comfortable with technology
    • easy to send audio feedback
practice guidelines
Practice guidelines

Handheld recorder more convenient?

record direct to MP3; USB port

Keep files short (<5 mins?)

‘Good enough’ sound quality (32kbps mono?)

Get approval for audio use


is audio feedback worth it
Is audio feedback worth it?

Experienced practitioner

Better, but may not be quicker

Give an extended trial

Worth it for some assessment, esp.

if detail, personal touch valuable

to groups

Other uses of audio!

success factors rotheram 2009
Simple idea

Sharp focus

Everyone benefits

Kit easy to use

Capable enthusiasts

Favourable climate

Money no problem

Catchy title


It wasn’t me, guv!

(Comments, questions)

Success factors(Rotheram, 2009)
successful but
Successful, but…
  • Will ‘they’ use it?
  • Worrying precedents
    • TEL projects die, leaving little trace
    • Previous flop of audio feedback
  • JISC countermeasures:
    • ‘sustainability’, ‘embedding’, ‘widening stakeholder engagement’…
    • ‘critical friend’
change 3 step process collis moonen 2001
Change: 3-step process(Collis & Moonen, 2001)
  • Initiation
  • Implementation
  • Institutionalisation
  • 5-year process?
pioneer to mainstream collis moonen
Pioneer to mainstream(Collis & Moonen)


  • Pioneers not high on influence ladder
  • Pioneers seen as a liability, excluded
  • Scaling-up given to central L&T group
  • New stakeholders, lacking experience
  • Reinvention of wheels
  • Frustrated pioneers
4 e model collis and moonen
‘4-E model’(Collis and Moonen)
  • Environment
    • institutional context
  • Educational effectiveness
    • perceived or expected
  • Ease of use
  • Engagement
    • personal response to ICT and change
pioneers and the 4 es
Pioneers and the 4 Es
  • High expectation of educational gain
  • Good fit to own setting
  • Engagement high
    • able to override negative ‘ease of use’
  • ‘Mainstream’ not like this!
  • Your institution and TEL:
    • Vision, leadership, support, level of use, readiness to change??
  • Collis & Moonen:
    • Key figures to recognise, fund, use ICT
    • Implementation strategy to respect teachers’ concerns, practice, constraints…
    • Appoint, fund strong, credible, ICT-using leader, able to make own appointments
educational effectiveness
Educational effectiveness
  • Audio feedback is rich. Effectiveness?
  • Collis & Moonen:
    • Be clear on benefits for teachers
    • Be clear on institutional benefits
    • Reward participation
ease of use
Ease of use
  • Handheld MP3 recorders: simple to use
  • Headsets + Audacity: not difficult
  • Where to record?
  • Collis & Moonen:
    • Fund enough support staff
    • Adequate, readily-available kit
    • Subsidise home and office ICT use
  • First phase staff engaged, but then…
  • Collis & Moonen:
    • Limitations of short courses, workshops:
    • Staff development better if:
      • Meaningful context (teacher’s own class…)
      • Opportunity for practice
      • Just-in-time
some questions
Some questions
  • Validity of analysis?
  • How to overcome obstacles?
  • What next?
  • Collis, B and Moonen, J (2001) Flexible Learning in a digital world, London, Kogan Page.
  • Rotheram, B (2009) ‘It wasn’t me, guv!’ Educational Developments, Issue 10.1