Screencasting Formative Feedback

How one tutor increased students’ engagement with feedback.

YouTubeButtonIn this video blog post Carl Simmons explains why assessment is so problematic and suggests how tutors can increase the amount of useful information that students receive using screen and voice recording software.

The issues are:

  1. Good quality feedback consumes significant tutor resource;
  2. Students tend not to use the qualitative feedback comments.

Carl replaced traditional feedback (handwritten comments / annotated Word documents) with videos of each students’ script, adding an audio recording of himself talking about the work – a ‘screencast’.

Results indicate that students both use this feedback more than traditional text comments – and feel that the assessor has their best interests at heart, providing a motivational boost.

SpeechBubbleThe students engaged far more readily with the screencast feedback – often viewing it more than three times.  There was also a perception that the feedback took significantly longer to produce – yet Carl found creating the screencasts took him about the same length of time as previous methods.

Carl’s approach is significant because many studies indicate increasing student engagement with qualitative feedback improves students’ outcomes.

Carl has created a screencast that outlines the technique and discusses how he analysed the data.  Potential issues are also identified, such as raising students’ expectations.  Here’s the link:

Your next steps?

Create a screen cast of your own – perhaps marking an exemplar piece – unpacking the reasoning behind the piece’s grade.

Carl would be delighted to speak to colleagues, both at Edge Hill and beyond to give help and advice to those considering using this screen casting technique.  Further, perhaps you might be able to add to the research data – seeing if the results you get are similar to those already observed.

BestofTEL_SMALLCarl Simmons
Senior Lecturer
Faculty of Education

Telephone:  01695 650916 x7916


For further help, support and advice on how you can use screen casting or any other TEL tools, please contact your Learning Technologist (see the Faculty Contacts on this page) or email the LTD Team on or 01695 650754 (x7754).  Or – you just ‘do it’ with my favourite FREE service:

Learning Edge Upgrade Success!

The scheduled summer upgrade has been completed successfully and you can now login to Learning Edge as normal.

The upgrade introduces a number of improvements – most significantly a new true student preview and anonymous & delegated grading options.

Where can you learn more?

As mentioned in a previous blog post, the LTD team will be hosting an online webinar (via Collaborate) at 2.00pm on Wednesday 23rd of July and Thursday 24th July. These sessions will introduce you to what’s new, provide you with an opportunity to ask questions and help you explore where and how to make the most of the new improved system.

Please Feedback

Take your time to explore the upgraded system and let us know what you think.

The LTD team have worked hard to test the upgrade so we are not expecting any unexpected behaviour! However, if you do spot any problems please let us know asap so we can investigate and get them resolved for you.

Contact the Learning Technology Development team to share any queries or comments you have regarding the upgrade or the online webinar– leave a comment below, email or call 01695 650754.

Meg Juss, Learning Technology Development Manager




Meg Juss
Learning Technology Development Manager

Summer 2014 – Blackboard Upgrade Awareness Webinar

Summer each year allows a window of opportunity for Learning Technology to update Blackboard to the latest version, containing new features and fixing a number of niggles. This year, the upgrade will occur on the evening of Sunday 20th July into the morning of Monday 21st July.  During this time, there will be no access to Blackboard up until (we expect) Monday afternoon once we have carried out testing to make sure everything is running as expected.

Webinar 23rd and 24th July @ 14:00

To follow on from the upgrade, we are offering a short webinar where you can find out what the new features are and anything that you may need to be aware of.  There aren’t too many changes this time, so we don’t anticipate that the webinar will be a long one, but it will give you the opportunity for an overview and also ask questions to our team of Learning Technologists. The link you will need to join the webinar is:


You can also access it via the Staff Development -> Staff Webinar Area under ‘Communities‘ in Blackboard Any questions, please contact the Learning Technology Development Team on ext. 7754 or

Accessible and Inclusive Design: iSpring Version

For those who couldn’t make it to the recent session on creating accessible content I thought it would be worth making a version of the session available.

In the session we looked at how content uploaded to Edge Hill’s Learning Edge online learning environment can be created in ways that make it more accessible to a wide range of students including those with SpLDs and those using mobile devices to access content.

By the way, I used the Yeti Pro microphone that Carol wrote about earlier this month, so the recording will give you the opportunity to listen to it in action.


Peter Beaumont
Learning Technology Development Officer

Yeti Pro Blue Microphone – a beast of a microphone!

LTD recently purchased a mammoth of a microphone to help with recordings of screen casts and other materials and also to offer it to staff who are developing their own content for teaching and learning.

The Yeti Pro microphone, manufactured by the legendary Blue Microphones, is a stunning microphone to record with giving clear crisp recordings straight to your PC.

Now the techie bit…

  • USB connection to PC
  • 24 bit/192 kHz digital recording resolution with analog XLR output.
  • Featuring three custom condenser capsules
  • Four different pattern settings (Stereo, Omni-directional, Cardoid and Bidirectional,
  • A-D converter chip and separate analog circuit path for use with professional studio mixers and preamps.
  • Built-in headphone amplifier for zero-latency monitoring
  • Direct controls for headphone volume, pattern selection, mute, and microphone gain.

Basically this means that for whatever purpose you have in mind for your audio recording, you’ll be able to find the best setting for the job but most commonly you’ll probably be using it to record yourself, so the cardioid setting will do just fine.


With the availability of USB this makes it super quick and simple to plug in and use (after installing a small USB driver – but we’ve already put this on the hot desks in the LTD office and on the screen casting laptop!)

The quality really is top notch, so if you fancy giving it a try to raise your game with your screen casts, come visit LTD and we’ll get you on the right track.


Carol Chatten
Learning Technology Development Officer

LTD Hot Desks

Come along to the LTD office to use our Hot Desk PCs.

FlyerCoverThe Hot Desk PCs have dual screen monitors for working with Blackboard and creating graphic, audio and video materials for teaching and learning.  They are loaded with teaching and learning software such as iSpring and Camtasia, and have high quality microphones and headphones.  We also have a laptop that you can take out on short term loan when you want to continue your content development or create your audio or video recordings in a quiet spot.

Perhaps the most important aspect of the desks is the location – in the heart of the LTD team – surrounded by colleagues brimming with ideas about how to make your online courses engaging, effective and enjoyable.

Please contact the LTD Team, email (01695 650754), or come along to the top floor of the LINC building and see what we have to offer.

We all look forward to seeing and working with you.

A Knight’s Tale – ebooks the ultimate creation

Learning Service’s Learning Technology Development Team wanted to find out if it is possible to create an eBook of course content and distribute it to students without publishing through a 3rd party but via the institutional Virtual Learning Environment (Blackboard), as a way of providing media rich content which can be downloaded to their device.

Dr Charles KnightDr Charles Knight (Senior Lecturer Business School) assisted by taking part in a pilot project to develop course content for his students using eBook creation software.

On completion, Charles kindly agreed to be interviewed about his and the student experience.

As a result of the interview, this blog post contains a number of audio clips taken from the interview as our way of sharing a personal account of this subject with others who may also have an interest in this area.

After researching software with the right options for us, we decided upon Ultimate Ebook Creator (UEC) for the creation of ebook content. Which, in our view offered what was required in terms of (DIY) in-house creation, capable of producing several file types and is easy to use. Prior to the pilot a free trial version of the software was available making it a good choice, because it meant we could compare it with other free software such as Calibre and Scrivener.

The right solution

ebook software packagesIn addition to our own software research Charles also took a looked at Calibre, which he explains, is easy to use for converting documents into an ebook format. However, in terms of creation, he goes on to say;

Ultimate Ebook Creator is a very powerful piece of software.  The built-in document editor is very similar to Microsoft Word, so is very familiar and much easier to use than some other software packages”.


Introduction: Charles Knight

Traditionally, lecturers here use PDFs to distribute course content via Blackboard. Charles wanted to know what the advantages and disadvantages are of using eBooks, and also to get a better idea of the process of creating and distributing eBooks.

The problem with PDFs

Another of the drivers for conducting the pilot was to look at eBooks as more engaging alternative to PowerPoint.

When originally undertaking the pilot the first item to investigate converting was the course handbook.  The process currently involves producing a handbook as a Word document, saving it as a PDF and uploading it to Blackboard. For the pilot, Charles also offered the students an .ePub and .MOBI version of handbook so students can choose a format depending on their device or apps.

Challenges using the software

Another area which often presents a challenge is copyright. For the purpose of the pilot we asked Charles to consider this in the production of his material.

The content created and converted for the pilot was produced by Charles with the exception of the front cover. Charles explains the reason for this and why creating a good book cover that stands-out is important and goes on to describe his approach to copyright compliance:

During the pilot Charles was able to provide students with a number of file types and the opportunity to download .ePub, .MOBI, PDF and Word files for equity and with the aim of distributing them online through Blackboard.

Surprisingly for Charles and the students, downloading an eBook file to a dedicated eBook reader presented the main challenge. However, other devices such as the iPad, Android tablets and some mobile phones would suggest an application to open the file making it much easier to download and use.

Hear Charles share his thoughts on the process of creating eBooks, the software used and the complexities involved in terms of the process and the matter therefore of additional support and training for staff and students:

So what recommendations does Charles offer to others who may be considering doing something similar with eBooks and any comments for manufacturers of this type of software?


The future

Following on from the pilot, we asked Charles what would he do different next time and what his thoughts are around producing eBooks in his future courses and module:

“I’ve played around with the formats, I’ve got three devices in-front of me; an iPad, Nexus 5 Android phone and a Kindle tablet and it rescales and it’s dynamic content on each of these, you know because you can resize it. It’s made me think, it’s a far better format!”


It has been a very interesting journey and one where we have enjoyed areas of success and begun to reflect on current practices.  However there are still some challenges ahead and proposals of enhancements for the software developers to take on board.

Finally my thanks to Charles Knight for taking part in this pilot at such a busy time of the taught curriculum and to his students for providing valuable user insight. I would also like to thank Nitin Mistry, from Ultimate eBook Creator, for his part in the project; working with us to adapt his software, providing free and unrestricted access to UEC’s full features during the pilot and the continued developments he made throughout the project.

Martin Baxter




Martin Baxter (Learning Techology Development)

Learning Edge Upgrade 20-21 July 2014 – What’s coming this summer

See Whats Better

The summer is on the horizon, bringing with it not only better weather but a better Learning Edge too! We are currently working with Blackboard to introduce a number of new features which will improve your experience and use of Learning Edge.

The upgrade will introduce exciting innovations as well as improvements to core capabilities, some of which are detailed below:


Student Preview

This new tool will enable you to quickly view and verify the design of your course Studetn_Preview_Iconcontent and course navigation from the perspective of a student. This means that you will no longer need to manage the creation and enrollment of test student accounts.

Anonymous and Delegated Grading

Anon_Grading_DelWith the Blackboard assignment tool you will be able to grade anonymously and delegate grading responsibilities to other members of staff.

Social Tools and Profiles

Learning gets social

With upgraded social learning tools including calendars, social spaces and improved cloud profiles, both students and staff can stay connected inside the traditional Virtual Learning Environment.

‘My Blackboard’ also provides a convenient one stop location for frequently used tools, such as My Grades for students and the Retention Center for staff.


Summer Upgrade Pre-Testing


In order for us to prepare for the upgrade, we will be carrying out extensive testing throughout May, June and July. The important dates for you to make a note of are the 27th May and 23rd June, as LTD team will be unavailable for general queries.

You can still email us on with anything urgent, but LS help desk will be able to assist you on 01695 584286 with your general enquiries.

You are welcome to sign up to the Upgrade Cohort (Service Pack April 2014 upgrade) if you would like to keep updated with developments of the new upgrade:

And the final important date is…

Following successful testing the current target date for the upgrade is July 20th / 21st.

As always, any questions on whats happening please contact LTD Support on 01695 650754 or email







John (LTDSO) & Nina (LTDOC)

Award Winning Staff Development!

Blackboard Catalyst Award

Learning Services have been named a winner of the 2014 Blackboard Catalyst Award programme for Staff Development, which honours all those involved who have leveraged Blackboard technologies to internally support the ‘Developing Digital Excellence’ program and those who delivered an array of professional and innovative training sessions to Edge Hill University staff.


The Staff Development Award is part of the annual and global Blackboard Catalyst Awards programme in which Edge Hill University was one of only four winners from the UK. The award was received during the 2014 Blackboard Teaching & Learning Conference – held at University College Dublin.  The conference is the largest of its kind outside of North America, which brings together heads of teaching & learning, educators, course designers, system administrators, and eLearning managers engaged in managing the provision of technology enhanced learning for institutions from over 20 countries.


This exciting achievement recognises the impressive growth of online session delivery and the blended provision of resources, content and specifically, Learning Services’ strategic approach to promote the educational affordances of Blackboard Collaborate to staff at Edge Hill University.

Why not try the award winning ‘Developing Digital Excellence’ programme this month? We have a number of events in May within the Digital Practitioner and Digital Office strands, including sessions which we are delivering during Learning at Work Week 19th – 25th May.

The Digital Practitioner:

Your Digital Tattoo – What the web says about you! Professional and employable digital identities : 13th May, 12.00pm – 1.00pm

Future Gazing: Exploring Tomorrow’s Technologies today : 20th May, 12.00pm – 1.00pm

Learn and Interact at the Touch Of A QR Code : 22nd May, 12.00pm – 1.00pm

Learn About Campus Pack: ePortfolios : 23rd May, 1.00pm – 2.00pm

The Digital Office:

Excel 1 – Getting Started with Formulas using Excel 2010 : 13th May, 9:30am – 11:00am

Excel 2 – Functions and Workbook Management : 29th May, 9:30am – 11:30am

Please book online via the HR Staff Development booking system. You can see the full list of the sessions within the Developing Digital Excellence programme and book those you would like to attend. Feel free to post a comment on here if you have any questions. You can also get in touch with us at or call 01695 650754 if you would simply like to know more!


Mark Wilcock
Learning Technology Development Officer

Developing Digital Excellent staff development programme

Here is your chance to get involved in our award winning programme.  Sorry couldn’t resist mentioning we have won a prize!. (There will be more news and information in a blog post next week when Mark Wilcock gets back from the Blackboard Conference with the award).

We have a number of events in May within the Digital Practitioner and Digital Office strands, including sessions which we are delivering during Learning at Work Week 19th – 25th May.  Those particular events which we would like everyone to get invovled in, we will promote further in the run up to the week.

The Digital Practitioner

Electronic Assessment Management – Using the right tools                                                   6th May                        12.00pm – 1.00pm 


Successfully managing online marking – A guide  to using the Grade Centre in Blackboard 8th May                         12.00pm – 1.00pm   


Your Digital Tattoo – What the web says about you! Professional and employable digital identities  13th May      12.00pm – 1.00pm


Future Gazing: Exploring Tomorrow’s Technologies today                                                   20th May                        12.00pm – 1.00pm


Learn And Interact At The Touch Of A QR Code                                                                     22nd May                        12.00pm – 1.00pm


Learn About Campus Pack                                                                                                   23rd May                         1.00pm – 2.00pm


The Digital Office

POWERPOINT 1 –Intro to On-Screen Presentations                                                             6th May                          9:30am – 11:30am

EXCEL 1 – Getting Started with Formulas using   Microsoft Excel 2010                                 13th May                        9:30am – 11:00am

EXCEL 2- Functions and Workbook Management                                                                  29th May                       9:30am – 11:30am

Please book online via the HR Staff Development booking system.  You can see the full list of the sessions within the Developing Digital Excellence programme and book those you would like to attend.

If there are areas of development you feel you or your team would like to discuss, please get in touch with myself or Elaine Czotter

Rachel Bury

Elaine Czotter