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We live in a text-based world. How much impact, then, can a voice have?

When students hand in work, they get feedback. There’s no mystery to it, it’s simply how academic work is done, and a straightforward example of cause and effect, albeit one that many lecturers find doesn’t have the effect they were hoping for. How many times have you written a comment on a piece of work, only to later realise that the student hasn’t looked at it, much less applied it?

It’s frustrating, for everyone. But it’s just one of those things – right? Wrong.

We live in a text-based world. How much more impact, then, can a voice have? For Paul Joseph-Richard, senior lecturer in Human Resource Management, vocal communication is a way to relate to people better. A frequent cause for dissatisfaction in online learning is the absence of social cues (Boling et al 2011, pp.118-119), and it’s worth remembering that if you’re marking online in Turnitin or in SOL, you are engaged in online learning, so getting the tutor presence across – your presence – is really important. 

We all know how easy it can be to misconstrue mood and meaning in an email. Why take the chance with something as important as feedback? By recording your feedback, rather than writing it, students will pick up what’s important from your tone of voice. They will hear your encouragement better, and Paul found that students tend to accept audio feedback much more readily than the written variety.

Try it out with some formative feedback. The students can scroll through their work while listening to you, and they can replay it as often as they like. Best of all, it will take less time for you than writing.

Use the student’s name and start building that bond, and then watch the improved later drafts roll in.

Students hand in work, and they get feedback. This is a simple but effective way to make that feedback count.


Interested? Read further:

Boling, E.C., Hough, M., Krinsy, H., Saleem, H. and Stevens, M. 2011. Cutting the distance in distance education: Perspectives on what promotes positive, online learning experiences. Internet and Higher Education 15, 118-126