Using video for feedback

Reflections from Abertay Conference

On Wednesday 17 October we attended the Abertay conference ‘Learning Through Co-Design’ it was a well organised event with some great content from a range of subject matter experts.

Do You Even Twitch?

One afternoon session that caught my eye was ‘Do You Even Twitch?’ referencing the online live streaming video platform owned by Amazon. If you think that a Twitch is something you should see your GP about or join your local birdwatching group, then you’re not alone. It’s safe to say that the world of live streaming content is vastly the prerogative of the new wave of web users (including my 8-year-old son who seems to be addicted to watching other people play games?!). The Twitch content usually has the live streamed in game action or less common creative section content accompanied with a head shot of the user and group chat to a side. With 15 million daily active users Twitch has become a serious business model.

YouTube and Twitch have made a lot of accidental educators

Dr Ryan Locke Lecturer, Computer Arts, Abertay University
Photo of phone using Twitch app

It was through watching creative content within this area that Dr Ryan Locke thought that there might be an opportunity to share feedback with students and use some of the useful interface of a Twitch like architecture that would appeal to his students.

Screenshot from Youtube video
Screenshot from YouTube video from Dr Ryan Locke

The Setup

Ryan has experimented with different setups and has settled on using Open Broadcast Software (OBS) for the software and the hardware set up shown below to achieve a similar effect. OBS is free and open source and extremely customisable and allows the user the ability to record and broadcast. Ryan does warn however…

Psssst! There IS a learning curve but it’s totally worth it

Dr Ryan Locke Lecturer, Computer Arts, Abertay University
computer set up picture
Screenshot from YouTube video from Dr Ryan Locke

Ryan primarily marks up artwork so he tends to use a large primary monitor, secondary tablet monitor, HD webcam and a high-quality mic.

It’s contagious

After seeing how useful the students were finding Ryan’s feedback and the potential it could have for some of his foreign language PHD students, Greg Bremner (Lecturer, Economics, Abertay University) bravely followed. His approach is simpler, since he is generally marking up economics papers. Greg describes himself as a accidental academic and not a gamer, so his approach is to use a basic headset with a mic, a webcam and a simple on screen markup tool:

I try to improve my students’ higher education experience via technology

Greg Bremner Lecturer, Economics, Abertay University
Word screenshot copyright Greg Bremner
Screenshot copyright Greg Bremner

Live example

To demonstrate just how streamlined Ryan had made the process he set up an assignment for us delegates in the workshop. We all had to draw a self portrait in 2 minutes using detail and shading and then he performed a live critique of one of our ‘artwork’.

Students working in a group
Students working in a group

We had to submit our work using our name in the subject line, which is where I made my fatal flaw by ironically naming my artwork ‘Ed Handsome Wood’. The irony was not lost on Ryan and he duly proceeded to inquire who thought that I had been handsome? Once we established that all mums think their wee boys are handsome (however mine assured me I was the most handsome boy in the world!) he proceeded to critique my work. Using the tools described he was able to record himself adding real time comments to my high class artwork.

He circled the shading below the neck and discussed the direction of light, he commented that the nose was not exactly straight (I had to point out that my nose is not straight on my face anyway so I avoided being marked down) and the ears were positioned at a strange height! Although this was very much a light-hearted example he was able to provide me with a digital file that had personal feedback that I would then be able to watch again and again (although my mum disagrees wholeheartedly with his feedback of course).

Drawn portrait


I suspect that this is unlikely to be rolled out as a institutional solution for providing feedback but it shows the value of personal feedback and how even if used sparingly it can make a lasting impacting on a students experience. In fact the message that came across most often was the one of personal. What I really took away from the session was the value of individual, meaningful feedback. Experienced lectures already give students personal feedback in a lecture, whether that’s just with a slight facial expression in a class/tutorial or through a face-to-face conversation with a student however, maybe we could add to this by using new technology or technology the that we already have at our disposal (such as a video introduction to a module, or the audio feedback feature within Turnitin) to provide the personalised experience students appreciate. Whatever approach one takes it is is clear that live streaming type broadcasts should be considered in the landscape of higher education if we are to keep up with the effective use of technology and engage with the emerging students of the future. We are currently piloting the use of a piece of software called Panopto. This is being used in pockets across the University and has a relatively simple interface and can be setup with minimal hardware, such as the onboard laptop webcam and a headset:

Simple setup

If you wish to discuss feedback or using elearning tools such as Panopto please feel free to come along to one of our drop-ins. We run twice-weekly drop-ins throughout the academic year for staff seeking elearning support. These sessions can cover the use of services like My Dundee or Turnitin, or be used to discuss best practice in the area of digital education.

When: Tuesdays and Thursdays, 10:30-11:30am

Where: E-learning resources for Staff Organisation in MyDundee

Useful links for further information:

Enhancement Themes – webinar on YouTube
By Ryan Locke (Lecturer, Computer Arts) and Greg Bremner, (Lecturer, Economics) Abertay University
“Do You Even Twitch?” Exploring applications of video feedback in higher education ‘What can Online Gaming Communities Teach Higher Education about Engagement & Feedback?’ – Abertay University WordPress blog post:
By Ryan Locke (Lecturer, Computer Arts) and Greg Bremner, (Lecturer, Economics) Abertay University

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