Why I use audio for online marking

Basic controls in Audacity

Originally uploaded by Dave Foord

A technique that I am using more and more for any form of online marking or feedback, is to record an audio file using Audacity. Audacity is a free piece of software which can either be downloaded onto a computer, or can be run from a memory pen and is part of the eduapps package so easy to use from there. The output is an MP3 file, which is much smaller than using the inbulit voice recorder in Word, and Audacity if very easy to use.

So why do I do this rather than using the track changes options in Word?

  1. Even though I am quite a quick typist, I can still talk a lot faster than I can type. In terms of marking work I think it takes me between 30% and 50% the time that it would take me to use typing feedback.
  2. The feedback that I give is richer, both in terms of saying more (as no restrictions in space) and there is additional information (a bit like body language) to the learner, in terms of changes in my voice etc.
  3. I don’t make the learners nicely presented piece of work look an awful mess, with comments and lines everywhere.
  4. The learner can listen to the feedback on a computer, or on a music player – so they can for example access their feedback on the bus on the way home.
  5. I can do my marking sat on the sofa or laying in bed – which is much more comfy than sitting at a desk – very important when having lots to mark.
  6. A tutor will only need to learn about the location of 4 buttons within Audacity to be able to use it, so very simple for even those that are a little technologically weary.

Not all learners will like this approach, and it only really works if the person doing the marking can find somewhere quiet and alone to do this – but for me, I think that it is great.

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