Joe Dale is an independent languages consultant and an expert in using digital tools to support teaching and learning. Here are his tips for using technology to give feedback.

by Joe Dale
14th August 2020



One of the key principles of effective teaching and learning is giving feedback to students on their work, so they know where they are in their learning and what they need to do to improve. The traditional ways of giving feedback, through written comments in exercise books and spoken feedback in class, can be augmented through the use of technology. There are a range of free tools and apps which allow you to give written and audio feedback, as well as cross-platform formative assessment tools which can mark student work instantly and give immediate feedback.

Mentimeter is a free polling tool which allows students to share opinions anonymously through word clouds, bar graphs and animated tiles from any device during a live presentation. The results can be exported as a PDF or separate images for free, and you can adapt customisable templates for your class.

Backchannel Chat is a free collaborative web tool which allows students to quickly and easily post thoughts, reflections, questions and comments onto a private message board in the classroom. Messages appear in chronological order and can be moderated once posted, if you have created an account. You can use Backchannel Chat throughout a lesson to support students, particularly shyer ones who may not want to draw attention to themselves. Or you could use it for a quick starter focusing on prior knowledge, or as a plenary activity such as an exit ticket, as an alternative to mini whiteboards.

Padlet is a free online notice board which can be used for publishing multimedia outcomes to a real audience via the browser or cross platform app. You have the option of enabling commenting and rating of notes, allowing students to give feedback on each other's work.

The Q&A option in Google Slides allows students to give written feedback and have it displayed during a live presentation. You can choose whether to display a student's message on the big screen but all students can see each other’s messages before they are posted. If students are logged into their Google account, they can choose to post anonymously as well as voting thumbs up or thumbs down, so you can see the most popular questions.

Formative assessment tools such as Kahoot!, Quizizz, Gimkit, Socrative and Google Forms enable you to create pre-made quizzes which can be marked automatically by the software in class or as homework. This saves you time and gives students immediate feedback.

Here are some other audio feedback options: 

  • Kaizena is a Google Docs add-on, allowing you to record spoken comments in students’ work.
  • Showbie lets you record audio feedback as playable hotspots, which you can add onto an image of student work, for example.
  • Seesaw allows you to record your voice when annotating an image or PDF of a student’s work. It also gives students the opportunity to record audio and written feedback.
  • Flipgrid lets you post a video question which students can respond to. Students can also give video feedback on each other’s answers. If you have a visualiser, you can live mark a piece of work in front of the class so students can see common mistakes clearly and what they need to do to improve. When commenting in Google Docs, you could use voice typing or voice dictation to save time too.

As you can see, there are many options for giving students feedback on their work. Explore some of these possibilities. See how they can save you time and shorten the feedback loop between students submitting work and you giving them feedback.

You can find further teaching ideas and suggestions in the full downloadable resource below. Joe Dale share his ideas online with teachers through podcasts and on Twitter, @joedale






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