Author Archive

Leaving audio feedback using GradeMark

May 22, 2012 4 comments

Microphones Rusty Sheriff (2007): (CC BY-NC 2.0)

Are you using GradeMark in Turnitin to provide feedback to students? Did you know you can now record audio feedback on student assignments?

You can record up to three minutes of feedback on each student assignment allowing you to personalise your feedback. In the Sounds Good JISC project students remarked positively on receiving audio feedback commenting on the personal nature and level of detail provided. (Rotheram 2009a) Some students in this study did comment that they would like both audio and written feedback and you can still use the QuickMarks and general comments in GradeMark to leave written feedback if required.

How do I record audio feedback in GradeMark?

The attached guidance note provides step-by-step instructions on how to record audio feedback in GradeMark:  Providing audio feedback with GradeMark

So what do I need to get started?

  • You need to be using GradeMark in Turnitin to mark your students’ assignments
  • A microphone (An external microphone usually produces a better sound quality)
  • A quiet room to record the audio feedback. The MILL has two Podcast rooms that you can book to record your audio feedback – these provide a quiet space and the AV equipment that you need in order to record your audio feedback. Please send a calendar invite to indicating the length of time that you would like to book a podcast room for and a member of the MILL team will respond to your request.

Tips on preparing audio feedback

  • Focus on the quality of the feedback as opposed to the quality of the recording. Don’t feel like you have to correct small speaking errors by re-recording. You can correct these as you would do in conversation. Do avoid poor quality audio as this can deter from the quality of your feedback.
  • Structure your feedback. Prepare a draft of the key points you would live to cover before you record.
  • Try to stay positive. Even when providing developmental feedback try to end on a positive note.
  • Speak clearly.
  • Make explicit how the feedback can contribute to the student development.  (JISC 2010; Rotheram 2009b)


JISC (2010) Audio Feedback [online] Available from: (Accessed: 21.5.12)

Rotheram, B. (2009a) Sounds good: Quicker, better assessment using audio feedback [online] Available from: (Accessed 21.5.12)

Rotheram, B. (2009b) Practice tips on using digital audio for assessment feedback [online] Available from: (Accessed: 21.5.12)

Social Media for Training Review

April 26, 2012 Leave a comment

I attended the UCISA Social Media for Training Conference and here are my take-away points.

 Ideas for online tools to develop more effective meetings

At the LDC, we’ve been thinking of more effective ways of managing meetings and I got some ideas from Joe Nicholls who presented on a staff development workshop which look at how online tools could be used to make meetings more effective. The full presentation is available from:

Below are some suggestions of online tools

Follow me on Twitter

Follow Me
Slava Baranskyi (2009)
(CC BY-NC 2.0)

Use twitter to develop collaborative lecture notes

Helen Keegan explained how she encourages students to live tweet a lecture and then uses storify to present the collaborative lecture notes. If you are interested in the idea have a look at the timely post from from the Guardian on the pros and cons of tweeting your lecture

Autotweet your PowerPoint

Set up your PowerPoint to autotweet as you progress through your slides or embed a twitter feedback slide into your PowerPoint.

Direct students to a specified start point in a YouTube video

You can direct students to a particular extract of a YouTube video by adding #t=ms to the end of the URL see the example below.

Crowd source your reading list

Encourage your students to find and review YouTube videos related to the course and share with the class via a social bookmarking group or collaborative blog.

Create screencasts of top 10 FAQs

Are you receiving a lot of the same queries from students? You could create a number of screencasts to address the top 10 frequently asked questions. We use Jing which you can download to your computer to capture screencasts. It is free and easy to use.

I found out who Rufi Franzen is

Rufi Franzen was part of an Alternative Reality Game (ARG) developed by Helen Keegan at University of Salford to teach an Advanced Multimedia module. The ARG played out on multiple platforms and in a face to face environment for the duration of the module. For more on how the ARG was developed you can Helen’s blog post.

Nominal Group Technique

March 1, 2012 3 comments

I attended an ELESIG webinar on Student Engagement Methods: a focus on the Nominal Group Technique (NGT) on 29 February 2012. The session focused on how this technique could be used to elicit feedback from students (or staff) on their experiences of learning technology or for them to give feedback on their learning. This technique encourages active engagement and the webinar explored how the technique works in a face-to-face environment.


NGT is a structured face-to-face technique which was originally developed in the 1970s as a technique for making decisions in large groups. The term Nominal Group arises from the fact that the activity is a group only in name as it relies on individual contributions in a group environment. (O’ Neil and Jackson 1983, cited in Varga-Atkins et al. 2011)

NGT Structure

In an NGT activity, the facilitator introduces the structure and purpose of the activity to participants (staff or students). The question that participants need to answer must be focused and easily understood. (Varga-Atkins et al., 2011) The recommended number of participants for an NGT activity is 8-10 participants, but if you have multiple facilitators you can run a number of groups on the same topic.

Varga-Atkins et al. (2011) have outlined the stages of the activity as follows:


Kakachu (2008) Post-its CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Stage 1: Individual responses to a single question are written on a series of post-its in silence. The facilitator leads a round robin of the group as each participants reads out their response and the facilitator places the post-its on a whiteboard and numbers them.  If NGT participants are providing multiple responses then the round robin continues until all response are read out.

Stage 2: Clarification can be asked for by group participants at this stage. Responses are consolidated into themes by the group.

Stage 3: Each individual ranks their top 5 responses. The facilitator then calculates the ranking results and shares with the group.

Mock NGT

To demonstrate the technique in action the webinar facilitators got all participants to respond to a question using the online whiteboard. This technique didn’t quite work in an online environment as you could see others responses while you were formulating your own ideas. It also proved difficult to complete the ranking stage on a whiteboard.


The webinar participants outlined the following benefits for NGT participants:

  • Everyone has an opportunity to input a response
  • The technique provides for a wide breadth of responses
  • The technique can generate a large volume of data in a short amount of time
  • The structure of the technique helps to moderate group dynamics
  • The technique can promote a sense of ownership for participants
  • Students have said that they enjoy this method of providing feedback as it avoids survey fatigue

The webinar participants outlined the following benefits for facilitators:

  • Ensures quiet participants take part
  • Provides for an immediate response


The webinar participants outlined the following challenges for NGT participants:

  • Consensus can be interpreted in a variety of ways
  • Grouping the ideas can be subjective
  • Participants might be too shy to ask for clarification
  • The process needs time to be explained. The webinar facilitators suggested sending a  reminder email about process and task to participants ahead of the activity
  • Participants may feel under pressure to perform in public
  • The activity is fast paced and participants have to stay alert

The final report generated from the NGT activity can be circulated and then sent to participants for further clarification.

When is the NGT useful?

Varga-Atkins et al. (2011 p. 5) have summarised when the technique is useful in different research and evaluation contexts:

Research Purpose For evaluation and decision making
Topic When you have one topic to explore
Likely research questions What changes might you make to your programme/curriculum?
Participants Participants with different power relations within the same group.

I’d be interested in finding out from your comments if you think this might be a useful technique to elicit student feedback on their experience of using learning technology and/or to get feedback on their learning.


Varga-Atkins, T., with contributions from Bunyan, N; McIsaac, J; Fewtrell J. (2011) The Nominal Group Technique: a practical guide for facilitators. Written for the ELESIG Small Grants Scheme. Liverpool: University of Liverpool. October. Version 1.0 [online] Available from: (Accessed: 29.2.12)

CitySpace Obituary: SEMS Student

August 25, 2011 Leave a comment

Ciprian Popa is a School of Engineering and Mathematical Sciences student

A very good project, really helpful. It’s a shame it came to an end.

Categories: Uncategorized

GradeMark from the Staff Perspective

August 24, 2011 Leave a comment

QuickMark Template

I heard a great presentation from Cath Ellis from University of Huddersfield on introducing an e-submission policy and using Turnitin’s online marking tool GradeMark as part of the Maximising Turnitin session in June. Prior to using GradeMark, Cath felt that her feedback was inconsistent. For the first five essays she might have corrected a mistake and given feedback on how to avoid this issue, but found she was giving less feedback as she progressed through scripts. It is important to point out that Cath’s previous marking was done using handwritten comments rather than typed feedback. Cath said that her feedback on common areas for development and common strengths is consistent using GradeMark. She has been able to automate a lot of the operational feedback on how to write using QuickMarks, which are standard feedback annotations that can be re-used. Cath said that by automating the operational feedback using QuickMarks she can now concentrate on providing feedback on the content. Her students have said that they are finding the feedback comprehensive and clearer than previous handwritten comments.

Cath has done some great diagnostic work using GradeMark reports where she has analysed QuickMarks to identify common areas for development. This resulted in a peer workshop where students who scored well in a particular area facilitated a workshop for students who were having difficulty. Analysing grades for each of the criteria in GradeMark rubrics allowed the teaching team to identify areas for development and change how this area was taught in subsequent years.

Check out for 4 top tips on using GradeMark that has led to 3-4 minute less marking time per script. See also Cath’s Prezi on using GradeMark and the new work flows enabled by the e-submission policy.

It is worth noting that City now has a full licence for GradeMark which is accessible through the Turnitin assignment activity in Moodle. We have reported issues of slowness using GradeMark, to Turnitin, during busy assignment times. If you are planning on using GradeMark, do work closely with your local support teams and the LDC and keep us informed of any performance issues so that we can liaise directly with Turnitin and work to find a solution for this.

CitySpace Obituary: Dilip Parmar

August 23, 2011 Leave a comment

Dilip Parmer is Learning Support Officer at Cass Business School

They say you never forget your first love and I shall never forget my first e-learning ‘experience’ which happened to be Cityspace. Like a fumbling teenager, I unclipped the gradebook and uncovered a whole new world of weighted gradings and datatypes. I was in heaven. We didn’t want to rush things but Cityspace was amenable. Quizzes were a joy to create and Assignments were no big hassle. My first e-learning love and the experiences I had with it has stood me well in dealing with the new fangled offerings I have come across since. My new squeeze Moodle is appreciative of all that I learnt and experienced with Cityspace my first love. There are some things Cityspace can do that Moodle my current squeeze cannot. In moments of passion, my first love Cityspace would send me a pop-up announcement entirely unannounced but very welcome in that moment; Moodle is content with blocks…the romance has gone. With a tear to my eye, I remember my first love fondly…

CitySpace Obituary

August 22, 2011 Leave a comment

Member of staff, School of Informatics

Memories and conversations I have had: in Haiku form and other dialogue snippets. Crashed on sign-in Java update? Again? What the…? Can’t use back button Patch ruins tools Call BlackBoard. Am then told: “You are teaching wrong” Staff whine constantly As if I am responsible for this travesty  “I could make a better platform in a day” Why don’t you then? I would love to see it “I’m not doing it for free! [chortles]” Oh well, back to square one, then  “Why don’t simply hack the code–surely you can get in and change it and deliver the long list of improvements I’ve emailed you over the last term.”  Unfortunately we can’t do that… “[Interrupting] Why not?” Because that would be insane. And you are playing fast and loose with the word ‘improvements’. And doing so would be in breach of our IT contract–not to mention University policy. “…why are you putting up obstacles? Sheesh”

CitySpace Obituary: Monika Eady

August 19, 2011 Leave a comment

Monika Eady is Computer Services Manager at City Law School (CLS)

I have been involved with CitySpace (WebCT) throughout. Before it was introduced I used to upload student materials on the website every Friday afternoon. Initially I continued to do so with the new tool, but over the years the academic staff got the hang of it and were able to do it themselves. Enrolling staff and students used to be a nightmare with the clunky way it operated. The automatic enrolment never quite worked 100% and at the beginning of every academic year I had to battle on behalf of CLS students so they eventually got to see the modules they needed for their studies. The LDC always had funds for catering and often bribed us to attend user meetings with a hearty breakfast. Some of them were good meetings.

CitySpace Obituary

August 16, 2011 Leave a comment

Here are a couple of  CitySpace memories that we have received from students.

Student, School of Community and Health Sciences

After 2 years of use, it pains me to know CitySpace will be switched off. CitySpace without you I would have been lost. You got me through lectures and exams and it’s a shame you won’t be there to see me through my final year at uni. I will miss you.

Student, Cass Business School

Nice to use but it looked a bit outdated. I think that something more technologically advanced should be adopted.


CitySpace Obituary: Matthew Eanor

August 9, 2011 Leave a comment

Matthew Eanor, former member of staff, Learning Development Centre

Ah, CitySpace – such fond memories I have of you. I remember how much of my time you ate up as I tried to fit our esoteric undergrad and postgrad programme structures into your inflexible module system. I remember the annual processions of students we had to lead to IT support because you refused to recognise their user names and passwords. I remember how much you used to tease us every year by leading us to think that you had successfully backed up and archived modules, only to inexplicably fail to reinstate them when needed, no matter how much we pleaded. You were touted as robust – you had probably more servers to run on than the rest of the university put together – but all we saw was one node after another in the cluster topple like (expensive) digital dominoes. I remember how I tried to make you more likeable by writing programmes to help with those jobs you found too difficult to do quickly. I know you struggled with things like creating more than one student account at a time or running reports that didn’t timeout. I remember being baffled as to why your Web Services were so strangely incomplete – you had APIs for the mailbox, calendar, and file system, yet inexplicably none for the more useful discussion boards – and you were never able to tell me why. I remember how I tried to help you play nicely with the other systems like SITS and WebSphere but you always sulked and never shared your data. I have often wondered why you never settled in the way we had hoped but I think now I have realised what the problem was. You just didn’t like us and wanted us to know it.

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