Why multimedia matters: promoting the use of video in assessment and feedback

iStock [erhui1979]
iStock [erhui1979]
While the use of multimedia has become a common practice in the development of learning materials, using audio or video in the way that we assess and provide feedback to our students is a practice which is only followed by a minority of lecturers.

For many lecturers, introducing a multimedia element involves navigating uncharted waters in order to arrive, in the end, at the same shore that they would arrive following traditional assessment methods. To assess if the journey is worthwhile, lecturers need to consider the following key questions:

  • What is the added value of introducing video (and audio) in assessment and feedback?
  • What are the challenges of this in comparison to written-based approaches?
  • How much extra time is needed to support video assessment and video feedback activities?

Let´s start with the added value that the video element confers. Research proves that students perceive multimedia feedback (either video or audio) as more individualised and easier to comprehend and act upon (West and Turner 2015). Video assessment and feedback improves student engagement by reaching those students who are more “visually oriented”. Finally, only video assessment supports the assessment of students performing real-work tasks in environments similar to real workplace scenarios.

On the other hand, those enhancements are not exempt from challenges, which leads us to the second question: what are the challenges of this in comparison to written-based approaches? Some main challenges that tutors and students face while engaging in a video assessment/feedback activityare:

  • a resistance to change
  • a lack of digital literacy skills
  • unfamiliarity with multimedia technology
  • in the case of video assessment, a lack of knowledge on how to grade and mark a video.

Adding up these incognitas leads to the final question of how much time a tutor would require to support video assessment/feedback. This last question does not have a standard answer but, in the long-run, it is not as time-consuming it might seem. It is true that there is a learning curve at first, when a tutor introduces an video assessment/feedback activity in their courses. Yet, long term, the use of video in assessment and feedback can actually save teachers time: for instance, tutors providing video feedback in postgraduate courses at the Dundee Medical School reported that, once they were familiar with the technology, it was actually faster for them to provide video feedback for the whole class, spotting and commenting on common mistakes. Likewise, the additional time required to prepare students for a video assessment activity can be also reduced for the next academic intake by providing clear instructions and guidance before the video assessment, and this information can be based on queries that students in previous cohorts raised.

I always advise tutors to evaluate carefully the pros and cons of introducing video in the particular assessment strategies of their courses. The good news is there is usually a workaround to overcome most of the cons, including the additional time factors. Lecturers are not alone when it comes to overcoming the challenges. In the Learning, Teaching and Web (LTW) department of the University of Edinburgh our aim is to support lecturers to embed video in assessment and feedback. Media Hopper (Kaltura) is the video streaming platform that can be integrated with the University’s VLEs (Moodle and Blackboard Learn) to develop both video assessment and video feedback.

Next steps:

Find out more about Media Hopper and Learning, Teaching and Web development on their website.

Read about similar work elsewhere in the University with the use of video in teaching in the School of Chemistry.

Find out more about current research in video feedback – West, J. & Turner, W. (2015). Enhancing the assessment experience: Improving student perceptions, engagement and understanding using online video feedback. Innovations in Education and Teaching International, 38(2), 240-252.

Mari-Cruz Garcia

I am the service lead for the University digital portfolio platform PebblePad and the EDE advisor on assessment and feedback. I have a work background in digital education, technology enhanced learning and international education partnerships. I specialise in improving assessment and feedback practices at the University of Edinburgh by introducing the use of technology and embedding accessibility, inclusion and internationalisation in the assessment strategy of our programmes. My aim is to raise awareness of assessment literacy among staff and academics by providing information, training, opportunities of networking and disseminating best practices.

One comment

  1. Thank you for highlighting the potential for using of video in assessment. A lot of your post focuses on tutors using video recordings of themselves providing feedback, but your mention of “the assessment of students performing real-work tasks in environments similar to real workplace scenarios” made me think you are also talking about the assessment of video recordings of students performing tasks? A further strand would be students producing video or multimedia as products (or evidence of learning processes) to be assessed.

    For me, all of these are interesting and potentially valuable, although I would see them as having very different challenges. To me, these challenges do not just require time but education, since the tutor needs to develop – as you suggest – a new kind of digital assessment literacy. As such, I think it is important to discuss not just challenges but risks. Questions that could usefully be asked include: how does being recorded influence performance? How might assessing a recording – which can be paused and replayed – differ from assessing live performance? How might the possibilities of multimedia submissions create or highlight tensions around authorship (since they are often more ambiguous than written documents)?

    As educators, I think we should be (responsibly) exploring these different options so posts like yours are useful food for thought, thanks.

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