Providing feedback in an online environment (OneChannel QCT Webinar)

How can we provide effective feedback in an online environment? This was a presentation by Joel Speranza, a teacher and expert on flipped learning and leveraging technology. The talk was given on 14th May 2020 (the video of his talk will go up here once it’s released).

Among many impressive things he has created the online maths teaching website https://mathsvideosaustralia.com/ (for Qld, Vic, and WA).

In a face to face classroom, types of feedback we can talk about are:

  1. Feedback of students to teachers about the teaching (picking up the vibe)
  2. Feedback to teacher about students’ understanding (from observation, work)
  3. Feedback from teacher to students about their learning (informal, within the classroom)
  4. Feedback between students in the classroom (students really get a lot out of this)

When we’re teaching online there are barriers to all four of these kinds of feedback.
The goal is to have strategies for breaking down these walls


(note: all images are from Joel’s slides, copyright is his)

In this online environment we need to approach this as if we were first year teachers again–learning to teach for the first time.

Questions we should be asking ourselves:

  • How will I know I’m teaching it well?
  • How will I know they understand it?
  • How will I give students feedback?
  • How will students give feedback to each other?

If we’re going to be doing feedback well then we need to allocate time for it (within lessons) otherwise it doesn’t happen. If feedback is really important (as most teachers think it is) then how much time should we give it? Maybe more time can be given to feedback in class than is given to instruction or to administrative tasks. Each teacher needs to figure this out for themselves.

In an online environment there is scope for instruction to happen outside the classroom (e.g., flipped learning)

How can I get feedback on my teaching?

  • Ask for it in the moment, explicitly (How well have I explained that? Am I moving too slow? Do I need to step back a bit?). Can be hard with lots of students.
  • Ask for it later: Something like a feedback form at the end of the week. But you need to ask questions that you want an answer to, and questions that you can act on. Examples: Do you need more work? (Getting the level of work right) What did you enjoy? (Engagement) How are you going? (Wellbeing)

Feedback to teacher on students’ learning

  • Make sure you focus on evidence of learning rather than evidence of work (evidence of work is super hard online)
  • Student self-assessment rubric is a really good way to do this (e.g., a digital rubric). Research on this suggests that students are almost unfailingly honest.
  • There are tools that might work for you: Kahoot, Quizizz, Microsoft Forms, Google Forms, EducationPerfect, Auto-marking quizzes

Feedback from teacher to student

  • There is a tradeoff between feedback to students being specific and it being timely. This is a hard thing to navigate
  • When you’re F2F it’s really easy to give timely feedback (e.g., when walking past a student). This is much harder online.
  • In an online environment it’s nearly impossible to be timely, so focus on feedback being specific. “How can I be more specific with my feedback” is a good thing to ask.
  • Automated feedback can be really helpful (and specific) here. For example, Kahoot can be set up so that every answer to a question has meaningful feedback.

  • Giving individual written feedback is golden. It takes time to give written feedback, but can be great.
  • Another option is to use video feedback to students. There is some great research starting to show that giving video feedback to students is even more effective–“thinking aloud” while doing the marking. (Students seem to get super excited about this). It takes a lot of time, but many teachers say that it’s faster than giving written feedback (unscripted, ~8 mins of video feedback, is faster than writing feedback for many). Also, students really, really love it

Student feedback from their peers

  • Finding ways that this can happen formally (e.g., peer assessment)
  • Finding ways that this can happen informally (e.g., through collaboration, shared whiteboard, etc.)
  • Try to think of clever ways to let this happen

Disclaimer: I’m not a teacher, these are simply my notes from trying to learn from Joel’s wisdom

Questions and Answers with Joel:

What program do you use for video feedback?

Screencast-o-matic: https://screencast-o-matic.com/
(Suggestion to use the downloaded version rather than the browser version)
Also OBS is an option.

How do you give feedback to younger learners?

Video in younger grades works really well

Where’s the best place to store videos of online lessons?

edTube is the EQ version for this on the learning place.
If you’re allowed to then “unlisted” YouTube videos work, but many schools can’t do this
If you’re a Google school then Google Drive works well
There are many ways to have your videos hosted online (but don’t email them or paste them into OneNote as it may make networks crash), things like Class Dojo. Maybe talk to techsavvy people in your school?

Do you find yourself limited by privacy laws in providing feedback?

Not really… there are no images of students in this targeted video feedback, so it’s usually fine.

I don’t necessarily agree that it is harder to give timely feedback in an online only environment, instead it;s about leveraging the tools you have access to. I’ve been using discussion boards in which students share their learning, and I’m able to provide video feedback quickly (Our LMS is Canvas). It’s not exactly synchronous, but still gives opportunity for timely and precise feedback.

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Thanks Nick for your notes and Joel for presenting. I like the way that feedback is presented in multiple forms. Feedback for me is an ongoing conversation about learning.

Online tools can help students revisit the feedback. In one research project students said they could see their own learning improve (feedback to self). They were asked to post a short paragraph each week responding to a question asking the to use evidence from a play to analyse, and also comment on the work of two peers. They said that they could see how their work improved over the term, moving from description to analysis. The teacher would point out some student work for everyone to read, and would comment on a few, but everyone could see the feedback.

Talking through example paragraphs related to the summative assessment is always a hit for my students as well. Students are usually are able to critique the examples readily and point out how it could be improved. I sometimes write these examples, or if I have asked permission from previous students, share those. It is a good way to model how to treat work with respect, but also an efficient way to lift the whole group’s expectations at once. I love it when they say ‘I could do better than that’. Ok!

The social conditions of respecting one another, trusting that tricky bits are valued for their learning potential, and having shared language and routines are also important for feedback to enhance learning.

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Hi everyone. Thanks Nick for taking such extensive notes and to anyone who came along to the webinar today. Happy to talk shop and answer any questions you might not have got a chance to ask in the webinar.

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Hi Jill,
We’ve followed a similar process of combining formative assessment with targeted feedback. In 10 English, our students complete a weekly writing task in which they are assessed on one-two criteria from their summative task. They then receive explicit feedback and improvement strategies, which our teachers developed collaboratively. When students cam to drafting, they could review their formative feedback, and apply it in their draft. By the time they submitted their final, they had received feedback on each criterion twice. Over the course of the year, we doubled the number of students earning As, and markedly decreased D-E. It’s definitely a change in practice, but very effective.
Cheers, Jess

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