Ideas for Giving Online Students Clear Feedback

By Koui² (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (], via Wikimedia CommonsStructuring a feedback cycle in online course is in many ways no different than in a face-to-face one.  For example, if you are using peer feedback, you may already be using some of these strategies:

  • Ask students to use a standard set of criteria and a protocol to guide their feedback
  • Set expectations – emphasize the value of giving feedback. Research shows giving feedback has a positive impact on students’ own work.
  • Make giving, receiving and using feedback part of assessment
  • Create  a feedback loop:
    1. Ask those whose work is being reviewed to point out to reviewer(s) what they’d like help with in particular. Encourage them to ask questions of the reviewer.
    2. Ask students in final drafts to write a brief piece explaining how they used the feedback they received.

Some benefits of this feedback structure include:

  • Increasing student accountability for quality of feedback
  • Increasing skills in giving and using feedback
  • Streamlining  final review of student work
  • Determine the success of the feedback system
  • Determine/improve students’ skills in giving and receiving feedback

Due to the lack of physical presence and changes in learning and teaching workflows, there are a few options that can improve that cycle.

Online Tools

In addition to the suggestions above, online tools can strengthen feedback and in some cases save time in giving feedback. For example, using voice rather than the written word can deepen the quality and quantity of feedback. Consider that speaking for three minutes produces about 500 words at an average rate of speech. Quality of feedback can also improve because the tone and quality of voice is retained, and this can enhance the depth and clarity of information in a message. Voice feedback has an immediacy that text does not, increasing students’ sense of your presence.  Tools using voice include Blackboard voice email and the voice authoring tool that is available wherever the full text editor exists.

Blackboard’s Video Everywhere tool allows you to record yourself speaking to students. Consider whether your feedback would be enhanced by the use of video. In the case of online course welcome messages, video of the instructor can be very useful in establishing a sense of your teaching presence.

Narrated Movies
Sometimes called “screencasts”, narrated movies can add a visual element to your feedback. For example, you may want to give feedback to the whole class, highlighting some key points in an assignment. Using VoiceThread, you can post a PowerPoint slide with bullet points and narrate those with a voice-over. You can also embed your webcam video directly into a slide.  Using SnagIt, you can record a narrated movie of whatever is open on your desktop. This might include written or visual student work. With a tablet computer, you can draw on the screen as you speak, adding emphasis to the points you speak to.

Articles on Feedback in Higher Education:

If you would like more information about any of the feedback strategies or tools in this post, please contact

New Blackboard Feature – “Video Everywhere”

Now it’s easier than ever to put YOU in your course.

  • Want a quick and easy way to record and embed a short video introduction of yourself in your course?
  • Looking for a simple way to provide video feedback for your students?
  • Thinking about a way to record and post a short video demo?
  • Hoping to repurpose a video from your YouTube channel and add it right into your course in seconds?

You can do all of those things right in Blackboard with Video Everywhere!


Video Everywhere is a new feature in Blackboard that lets you record with your computer’s webcam, upload the video right to your YouTube account, and embed it into your course – all at the same time and all without leaving the Blackboard environment. If you already have a video in your YouTube channel that you’d like to quickly insert in your course, you can use Video Everywhere for that too!

Got a computer, a webcam, a Google account, and a YouTube Channel? You’re good to go!

Getting Started
When you choose to add an item to your course, you’ll find the “Video Everywhere” icon in the Content Editor. It looks like a small webcam:


You can find the icon located in the lower left-hand corner of the content editor:


When the “Record” window opens, just sign into your Google/YouTube account (you’ll need to create a Google account if you don’t have one already and you’ll need a YouTube channel if you don’t have one yet.).


Note that the default is the Record screen but you can choose the Browse tab to insert a video you already have in your YouTube channel.

Once you sign in, you’ll be walked through the process to easily Record, Upload and Insert your video right into your course. Just grant access when asked along the way.

Once it’s in your YouTube channel, the video will be available to insert in any of your other courses using Video Everywhere’s Browse option from within each course.

That’s all there is to it!

A word about privacy: Please be aware that any video recorded with Video Everywhere will go directly to your YouTube account and have a default privacy status of “unlisted”. This means that it can only be viewed by those who have the URL for the video, and it won’t come up in a search, but the status is NOT “private”.  More information about this is available on Blackboard’s Video Everywhere Support site (see link below).

For More Information
You can find a step-by-step guide to using Video Everywhere here: Blackboard’s Video Everywhere Support Page, including information about privacy issues and making videos accessible.

You can also view Blackboard’s quick video introduction.

For more help with this new feature, contact