How to use video to give engaging student feedback

Tips for giving effective feedback using personalized videos
Molly McCracken
May 15, 2020

Teacher recording feedback videos from home

As we roll our desk chairs into the final weeks of the school year, we're really missing the opportunities to connect in person and give our students meaningful feedback on their work. Creating short videos for each student to articulate your feedback can be a great way to deliver your thoughts and feelings from a distance.

If you didn’t see it a couple of years back, Daily Yuhas suggested using video to give feedback long before COVID-19 in the article “Has video killed the red grading pen?

As she outlines in The Hechinger Report, one of the reasons video can be such a helpful tool is that oral feedback can be more effective at encouraging and motivating students than written feedback.

We’ve learned to associate the red pen with criticism, setting students’ expectations from the moment they see comments scribbled on their work.

Video is the perfect format for students to hear first-hand how they can improve for a few reasons

  • Video content is multi-dimensional and can help avoid misunderstanding the tone or intent of a comment
  • Videos can integrate body language, facial expressions, and mixed media (like screen sharing and drawing) to deliver a point more effectively
  • Students can watch and re-watch videos, rather than relying on their notes from a phone call or conference
  • You can share excitement, concern, and critiques equally across a video, giving each piece of student work a holistic review

Video feedback can work for all subjects

David Narter, an English teacher profiled in Yuhas’s article, provides each student with a personalized five-minute video reviewing their work.

By capping it at just a few minutes allows educators to be efficient with their time; 30-minute conferences with every student on every assignment is simply unmanageable.

Likewise, educator Andrew Burnett shares a great example of how he uses video to give feedback in his middle school math class.

Burnett, a champion of feedback videos, wrote an excellent post, “Improve Understanding with Video Feedback.” It's a must-read if you're looking to incorporate video feedback into your teaching practice.

Seven tips for creating great feedback videos

Consider some of the following tips to create great feedback videos for your students.

Keep videos short and focused

As Narter mentioned, for the typical assignment you likely need no more than five minutes of video. If you’re feeling like your video feedback needs to be longer, consider having a conference to enable discussion.

Set a structure for the feedback and share it early

Like a table of contents, structure what you’re covering in the video and let students know how you’ll be organizing your thoughts.

Perhaps you’re going to follow the rubric and comment on each section that is evaluated, you’re going to work through the assignment chronologically, or you'll be working through their assignment page-by-page. There's no one way to structure your feedback, just make sure you're letting students know how to follow along.

Combine face-to-face with a screen share or display students’ work when possible

Showing your face creates a human connection and allows you to use body language and eye contact to better articulate your perspective. Showing student work allows you to point to and annotate specific areas of feedback.

Combine (using a camera and a screen share recording tool) facetime with content-specific feedback for powerful results. Tools like Loom allow you to show your face (almost like “picture in picture”) as you’re speaking over a screen share.

Pair video feedback with written notes or annotations

Videos can be a helpful tool for providing feedback, but it may not work for all learners. Ensure your feedback is conveyed effectively by including written comments/notes on the student work if possible to reiterate the points in your video.

Personalize off the top

To make this new concept appealing to students, make sure they know this video is just for them. Avoid concerns of a generic video by opening the video with students’ names and making a direct reference to the work at hand early on.

Share the grade, score, or “next step” in the second half of the video

As educators, we know how important feedback is, but just like in a paper – students are going to jump to see their grade before anything else. If you lead with “I’ve given you a B on this report,” students may not watch the remainder of your feedback video.

Be human, be you

We’ll say this again and again: Your videos don’t need to be perfect.

If you stumble on a word, need to take a few seconds to gather your thoughts, or your dog barks, don’t worry about it! Embrace it.

In fact, you will likely find your videos are better received if they're non-formal and less scripted.

Molly McCracken

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