January 10, 2012
Moving cursors and voice comments could revolutionise the way
teachers correct learners' work
student receives a web link from a teacher via email. When it
is opened, a video clip starts to play. The image is of computer
screen containing the homework that the student had submitted
earlier as a text document. A cursor appears, highlighting a
section of text, followed by the teacher's voice explaining
a language error. The teacher's disembodied voice and ghost-like
manipulation of the text continue through the document, highlighting,
explaining and suggesting strategies for correction, until the
images of computer text with a personal commentary are unlikely
to become the next YouTube sensation, but the use of screen-capture
software, which allows this kind of voice-annotated manipulation,
could become a major asset for English language teachers and
software allows you to record the screen of your computer as
if you had a camera pointed at it and also record your voice.
An attachable or built-in microphone is the only hardware requirement.
Teachers can "capture" the contents of their screen
as they correct and comment on students' work. All the notes,
highlights and spoken comments recorded and the resulting video
can be forwarded to the students.
first started experimenting with video feedback using screen
capture six years ago. My students liked the fact the feedback
included visuals and sound. They also felt they were getting
more input from their teacher. They said that it was clearer
as they could see the cursor and exactly what the teacher was
correcting. Many students said they clips were "authentic
listening materials" and they watched the videos several
are also beginning to discover that the application of this
technology can change the nature of feedback. It is common to
see comments such as "good" or "well done"
on written scripts but when teachers use video feedback they
tend to elaborate and develop points rather than leaving them
as empty comments. Students feel it is more "human"
too as they can hear the teacher's voice.
in its early days video feedback had a flaw: the videos had
to be compressed before they could be sent to the students,
requiring technical knowledge on the part of the teacher. Cloud
computing changed this. Screen-capture websites now provide
free server space where the videos can be uploaded at the click
of a button and the resulting "link" shared with students.
feedback is now a practical tool for teachers. The Open University
(OU), the UK's distance learning higher education institution,
is experimenting with feedback on some courses. Felicity Harper
and Hannelore Green from the OU's faculty of education have
introduced the feedback idea to language tutors who are trailing
it with their students and the response has been very positive.
"It has worked well with students who have dyslexia too,
who sometimes feel overwhelmed with textual feedback,"
own experiments at the University of Warwick show that video
feedback goes beyond simple language correction. In fact, it
works best when you want to elaborate and expand on your feedback
and not simply correct grammar or spelling, for example when
you want to offer comments on an essay's structure, content
the language classroom, it is also useful for work on vocabulary.
A teacher can take notes on pronunciation mistakes that are
made in the lesson, and after class write the list into a text
document, turn on the screen capture and read through the words
and highlight where the stress falls. The resulting video can
then be sent to the whole class. Teachers could send a weekly
video of pronunciation mistakes or vocabulary they want students
know from research that students value face-to-face feedback,
but with large classes this is not always possible. So could
screen capture offer an alternative? Students seem to think
so. "It's as if my tutor is sitting next to me," is
a common comment the OU are hearing. Students find it engaging
and many point out they play the feedback several times.
the heart of this idea is a simple technology that can provide
busy teachers with an effective way of providing better-quality
feedback in a motivating way. With the current obsession with
final marks and grades, any system that gets students to engage
with the feedback and act upon it has got to be worth investigating.
Stannard is a principal lecturer at the University of Warwick
recent winner of the British Council's ELTons award. Free video
programs include TechSmith's Jing and Camstudio.