How can technology enhance my feedback?

    The pervasive and growing role that technology plays in our daily lives, in our communications, and in our learning and teaching, is well known, around us in the media almost every day. And the issues technology presents to the Higher Education community with regard to challenges to address and potential enhancements to embrace, are immense.

    But what role can technology play with respect to assessment feedback? How can we harness the potential new opportunities it offers to enhance this aspect of our practice and our professional interaction with students? The potential includes, but goes far beyond, the benefits which Irons predicted in 2007, namely that technology can

    • automate elements of the task of marking student work, which in turn reduces the teacher workload
    • enable students to receive more detailed formative feedback on their learning in a way that is more efficient than is possible using traditional means of assessment.

    Pause to Reflect

    • Draw up a list of the uses that you, and others, make of technology in daily life, in communication with others, and in learning and teaching - you might include software, social networking tools, mobile phone 'apps', forms of communication, and broader audio/visual digital technologies, even computer games
    • For each of the items on your list, think creatively to imagine possible applications to feedback
    • Jot down all ideas that come to mind - at this point don't discount anything.

    ACTIVITY - Select and Explore

    There are a multiplicity of avenues to pursue when it comes to the contribution technology can make to enhance the feedback process. Below are some possibilities you might like to explore, and further details and examples are provided in the attached resource. Choose one or two which are of greatest interest to you. Why not try them out with your students?

    1. Speed and ease of processing: Using technology can ensure we deliver instant, or speedy, feedback to learners

    • Email to speed up the return of individual feedback
    • VLE forum, bulletin board or other social media tool to distribute generic group feedback
    • Tools to automate aspects of tutor feedback

    2. Immediacy and contingency: Feedback is provided rapidly when using technology for formative interactive online tests and activities involving tools in the hand (such as voting devices and internet-connected mobile phones) which can immediately correct misconceptions.

    • Immediate expert, personalised, feedback through online interactive testing

    3. Technology can offer enhanced opportunities for self-evaluation, reflection and self-feedback, which in turn can generate ownership of learning and promote higher-order thinking skills. Activities include checking of own work, peer-feedback, and reflection on achievements in e-portfolios and blogs.

    • Self-generated feedback on the accuracy of referencing
    • Anonymous peer-feedback for group work

    4. Authenticity: The feedback received through participating in online simulations and video technologies which support risk-free rehearsal of real-world skills, can enhance future performance in professional and vocational education

    • Problem-based learning enhanced through simulation

    5. Additionality: Technology can add facets, such as a personal quality, to feedback, even in large-group or distance contexts, and, through efficiencies gained from asynchronous communication and automated marking, can enable practitioners to make more productive use of their time.

    • Personalised spoken feedback outside timetabling constraints
    • Technology engaging students in reflection and dialogue around Feedback
    • One-to-one (or group) discussion of feedback even at a distance
    • Peer feedback promoted and facilitated through sharing of student work online

    Reflect and Develop

    You might like to reflect on some of the areas explored in relation to technology and feedback and consider how they might apply in the context of ePortfolio Assessment. What types of feedback are facilitated and promoted through ePortfolio Assessment? How well does such assessment lend itself to forms of feedback which meet the agreed criteria of Effective Feedback?

    To inform your thinking: JISC (2009) Effective Practice with e-Portfolios: Supporting 21st century learning. HEFCE.
    Available online at:

    Where can I find out more?

    JISC (2010) Effective Assessment in a Digital Age: A guide to technology-enhanced assessment and feedback. HEFCE.
    Available online at:

    University of Leeds (2011) Leeds Building Capacity Project.
    Available online at:
    [Last accessed 30 July 2012]

    What shall I look at next?

    Why not have a look at:

    What makes Feedback Effective?


    How can I encourage dialogue around feedback?

    Related documents/links