August was relaxing but September is hectic. This is often true for those of us who work in UK higher education, but Sounds Good is making September 2008 even more of a whirl than usual for me. Not that I’m complaining.
This month I’ve led sessions about using audio for assessment feedback at:
- Leeds Met’s Assessment, Learning and Teaching Conference;
- the Association for Learning Technology conference (ALT-C) in Leeds;
- a research seminar at the ExPERT Centre (the Centre of Excellence in Teaching and Learning – CETL), Portsmouth University;
- an Engineering Subject Centre event at Cardiff University.
Everywhere, the reaction has been very positive; people are taken with the idea of audio feedback. At ALT-C, having given my presentation to an audience of perhaps 150, I was surprised and delighted by the number of folks who came up to me in the next 24 hours, wanting to chat about Sounds Good, asking for my contact details and saying they or their colleagues would like to try using audio feedback. Several have been in touch since. This doesn’t usually happen to me! Right now, Sounds Good feels good.
Let’s not get carried away though. All the project has done so far is to confirm that students like receiving audio feedback and that the Leeds Met staff team think it’s worth the effort of learning how to do it. Most colleagues aren’t yet saving time by speaking rather than writing their feedback, but they know they’re providing a better service. The most favourable circumstances for giving audio feedback seem to be where the assessor:
- usually gives plenty of feedback;
- writes slowly but speaks fluently;
- is used to the technology.
So it’s probably not a case of ‘one size fits all’. Also, as with most new skills, practice is likely to help. Audio feedback is worth a try but, like anything else, it’s unlikely to be the magic bullet for all our assessment woes.