Thoughts on Education – 6/20/2012 – Vocal comments during grading?

So, I had no idea this was a thing until it came across my email (I just can’t say came across my desk, as nothing comes across anyone’s desk anymore).  The article in the Chronicle of Higher Education ProfHacker blog titled, “Grading with Voice on an iPad,”raises the idea of  leaving voice comments on graded material for students along with the normal written comments.  Here is the reasoning by the guest author of the post:  “One of the frustrating things I found in teaching online last semester was the lack of direct contact with students. The class felt impersonal, despite my efforts to give it life.  I found that especially frustrating when I graded assignments. The feedback seemed cold and distant, even as I as I tried to point out strong areas of writing and multimedia projects.  I overcame this in part by using my iPad to add audio comments to grading. This was a revelation to me.”  As I said, I had never thought about this at all before.  I then noted, as I am grading right now, that if you go to, you will also find an “advertisement” toward the top for adding voice to graded responses there as well.

I had not really noted the piece on turnitin before, considering that I normally have adblockers on my browsers and generally do everything I can to avoid advertisements of any kind in my daily life.  So, this really hit me as something completely new.  Has anyone else out there ever done this?  Have any students out there had graded assignments returned with voice comments?  I’m really curious about this.

Beyond just asking about this (which is a primary purpose here, so please let me know if this is something you have heard of), it also got me thinking about the whole concept of it.  The basis on which the above instructor said they found it useful does not really apply very well to me.  I have never provided verbal feedback after an assignment.  History essays and work tends to be graded and handed back with no opportunities for correcting the material or working on it again.  Thus, written comments work pretty well for the few students who actually bother to read them.  Or, at least I assume they do.  Am I missing out on a whole avenue for providing feedback here?  This whole idea just set my mind swirling about the whole way I provide feedback.  As I just said, I have strong doubts (and in the case of, which documents students who look at their graded assignment, I know) that many students ever look at the written comments.  So, I’m spending a lot of time grading for a very minimal payout.  Would verbal feedback in general get more of a response?  I don’t mean just recorded as the article refers to, but actually sitting down with students and giving them verbal feedback.  Or, would I be just as frustrated at that prospect considering most students would probably resent the fact that they were required to come in to talk to me to get feedback.  I already offer to explain grades or answer questions after every assignment I hand back, with a near 0% acceptance rate for that offer.  In fact, since most students don’t look at feedback and just accept the grade as given, perhaps providing verbal feedback would be just another waste of my time.  I don’t know.  I’m just thinking out loud (on the keyboard?) here.

Any thoughts?

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About Scott Williams

I am an educator, community-college instructor, thinker, husband, parent of four, student of life, player of video games, voracious reader, restless wanderer, and all-around guy.

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