Providing Meaningful Feedback Online

Two female students working at their computers while seated at a brown wood table
Photo by Andrew Neel on Unsplash

This week I listened to an excellent episode of the Teaching in Higher Ed podcast called How to Bring Art and Science into Online Teaching with Stephanie Moore. In the episode, Dr. Stephanie Moore who is an Assistant Professor of Instructional Design & Technology at The University of New Mexico, shared how she gives students both corrective and strategic feedback in an online learning environment, and reminded us of the importance of giving both. 

Dr. Moore reminds us that corrective feedback can have a de-motivating effect on students, however it can be balanced by providing students feedback they use to improve their work. This strategic feedback includes making helpful suggestions and providing examples for students of ways that they can improve their work. The result? Strategic feedback has the potential to both motivate students and increase their self-confidence. Also important, Dr. Moore stresses that by acting as a cheerleader for students and personally encouraging them, this increases teaching presence and humanizes the course experience.

In his Faculty Focus article Feedback Strategies for Online Courses, Kelly (2014) stresses the importance of giving timely, meaningful feedback as soon as the course begins to support student success. Giving timely, meaningful feedback to students communicates to students that the instructor cares about their success. Kelly (2014) also recommends beginning the feedback with something positive about the student’s work. It’s important to balance the corrective feedback with positive feedback so that students feel encouraged.  Further, Kelly (2014) suggests the use of rubrics so that students understand the criteria that will be used to evaluate their work. This supports students’ ability to focus on the assignment and meet expectations. For more information about how to integrate rubrics into your course, check out our last blog post The Value of Using Rubrics.  Wondering how to use rubrics in OnCourse? Check out our Answers Documentation Using Rubrics in OnCourse.

It is helpful to consider the types of feedback that can be given to students in an online course. In addition to written feedback, audio and video feedback can be a meaningful way to connect with students, and provide practical, constructive feedback. In their Chronicle of Higher Education advice guide How to Give Your Students Better Feedback with Technology, Fiock and Garcia (2019) write that written feedback can sometimes be misinterpreted by the student. Providing audio feedback allows students to hear the instructor’s tone and feel the encouragement instructors intend to provide. Providing audio feedback can also save time in grading as it can be faster than providing written feedback. 

Video feedback is another great option, particularly during instances when the instructor wants to show students how to work through the steps of a complicated problem (Fiock & Garcia, 2019). It’s important to point out that video feedback includes both talking head videos, and screencasts. Instructors may find that using a combination of both throughout their course, depending on the particular assignment, benefits both student and instructor. 

Wondering how you can provide audio and video feedback in OnCourse? Record RTC is a tool in the ATTO editor in OnCourse that allows instructors and students to record up to two minutes in length audio or video files and attach them to an Assignment, or post them directly on a Forum. Recording Video Directly in OnCourse is piece of Answers Documentation that walks users through how to use Record RTC. 

If you are interested in providing feedback through a screencast, Panopto is a great tool. Not only is Panopto campus supported, but it enables users to create talking head videos and screencasts, and doesn’t restrict users to a 2 minute or less time frame.

We want to know what strategies you try out to provide students meaningful feedback in an online course! 

Send an email to to share your thoughts, ask a question or make a recommendation for a future blog post.

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