Mobile learning: Creating feedback for students

This article is the first in a series of five articles about scenarios for mobile learning.
TEL is coordinating an initiative to promote and capture innovation in e-learning.

Microphone by Tom MaglieryWhat is it?

Mobile phones can be used to record audio feedback files, and these are shared with students for playback via the Blackboard Grade centre.  Audio feedback could also be created by students as part of peer feedback processes.


There are some key benefits: Hearing and replaying feedback helps students to understand the lecturer’s thinking, and audio feedback is particularly useful for encouragement and understanding nuances. Also, some staff find audio feedback quicker and easier to create than traditional formats.

How it can work

There is no need for additional gadgets, as most modern mobile phones have built-in microphones and audio recorders and can easily be used to record feedback files.  It may be possible to directly upload files to the Grade Centre in Blackboard via the mobile’s web browser, or easier and cheaper to transfer files to a computer first. Students then access the files through the My Grades tool, listening to it on the device of their choice, and/or via headphones. Audio files can be used for feedback on individual work or for whole class feedback on an assignment.

Potential issues

  • Skills: Creating useful feedback is itself a skill – audio feedback can be demotivating if not created well. Moreover, students unused to audio feedback may need guidance in order to use it effectively.
  • Practical issues: Feedback should clearly identify which part of the work is being referred to. It’s helpful if original work is marked up and returned to students with the audio feedback, but this may then take longer than creating traditional written feedback. Also a quiet environment is needed to minimise background sounds.
  • Inclusivity: At the moment, not all staff members and students have mobile phones with the ability to create audio files, and students need headsets to listen to audio feedback in university contexts.

Follow up on this article

  1. Share your own mobile learning innovation – and win £500 and a pie/cake!
  2. View all five scenarios (download a Word doc).
  3. See an article from JISC discussing the potential and possible models for audio-feedback

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