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This content was published: August 14, 2017. Phone numbers, email addresses, and other information may have changed.

Use your voice to share that you care

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Studies have shown that high among the traits students value in an instructor is “care” for their learning. Indeed, a 2012 study by Orso and Doolittle showed “compassion” as the 2nd most desired characteristic of an outstanding online instructor. There are numerous ways to demonstrate compassion and care for learning, but adding your personal voice to key parts of the course is high on the list. One increasingly common way to add your voice to the course is through voice feedback.

Benefits of Voice Feedback

In a recent Online Classroom article, John Orlando highlighted some key themes from early research by Phil Ice regarding the use of voice feedback vs. the usual text feedback, and here are a few key points. First of all, students perceived an increase in content retention with voice feedback. Indeed, it was observed that “students actually incorporated audio feedback three times more often than text feedback” in their final assignments.

Students also felt an increase in instructor caring about student learning since voice feedback is perceived as more personal than text. It is reassuring to hear the instructor’s voice. While traditional text feedback can feel rather impersonal and detached, voice feedback is a step toward actually being in the room with the instructor, so it feels less isolating, . Using our personal voice reminds students that the instructor is human, not simply a computer rendering text feedback.

The Ice study also revealed that instructors tend to use significantly more adjectives when offering voice feedback, in fact, up to five times as many. The heavier use of adjectives is associated with more expressive language, resulting in improved attention by stimulating our emotional centers to a greater degree. Later studies that build on the work of Ice suggest that students “reflect on their work and the feedback more when it’s offered in voice form instead of text.”

But it takes longer, right?

You might think that using audio feedback will take too long, but quite the opposite is true. Studies show that we can offer more feedback in less time, largely because we can talk faster than we can type. Yes, it takes a bit of additional time to learn the new method and feel comfortable with it, but this involves less effort than you might think. It’s also not necessary to switch over to audio completely. You and your students might find a blended approach helpful, offering more global comments through voice feedback while still marking a few specifics on the students’ paper.

Okay, how do I get started?Image showing where to click on Record Audio in order to add voice feedback


The easiest way to get started with voice feedback is to click on “Record Audio” directly below the text feedback window when viewing a student assignment in D2L. Don’t forget to update the page after recording your feedback.

If you’d like more information about using voice feedback, be sure to read Laura Sander’s post Audio Feedback: More bang for the buck from April 17th, 2017.

New easy access for Online Classroom articles!

You can also read John Orlando’s full article Voice feedback for better learning from the July edition of Online Classroom. All PCC instructors now have very easy access to all current Online Classroom articles and archives. Here’s how…

  1. Log into D2LImage shows how to access Magna articles from the D2L home page.
  2. Find the “Instructor Resources” menu at the top, and select “Access Magna Publications.”
  3. Click on “Online Classroom Archives.”

Orlando, John (2017). Voice feedback for better learning. Online Classroom.

Ice, Phil (2007). Using asynchronous audio feedback to enhance teaching presence and students’ sense of community. Journal of Asynchronous learning Networks, 11(2), 3-25.

About Greg Kaminski

Online Learning: online course design consultant, coordinator of Online Faculty Mentors, Quality Matters facilitator, interactive teaching practices enthusiast. more »