Tips for providing online feedback in virtual courses

Posted on: May 14, 2013 | By: Sam Parker | Filed under: Moodle, Online Instruction, Teaching & Learning

Professor Feedback PhotoDr. Cheri Crabb with Teaching and Learning Technologies (TLT) hosted the third online course discussion group for new online faculty on Wednesday, May 9.

These discussion groups focus on enhancing face-to-face courses for online environments, and each meeting has an emphasis on a particular topic. This meeting concentrated on ways faculty can provide online feedback to their students via electronic grading in online courses.

Michael Vaughn, instructional technologist for Teaching and Learning Technologies (TLT), was the “featured staff member” for this discussion, and he shared a few tools that can help online faculty provide useful feedback to their students.

MORE: Check out tips from the first online course discussion group meeting here.

MORE: Check out tips from the second online course discussion group meeting here.

Below is a list of resources Vaughn shared with faculty on how to deliver effective, beneficial feedback to students in virtual courses:

Moodle’s Quiz Tool

Though many professors are already familiar with this tool, Vaughn said there are a few advanced features on Moodle’s quizzes that can enhance online feedback capabilities. Here are some of those features:

  • Include feedback for each answer choice. Provide feedback or explanations for each answer choice, so students can clearly understand why their answers are correct or incorrect.
  • Utilize certainty-based marking. By requiring students to estimate their confidence levels with each answered question, you can help to improve students’ self-confidence.
    • For example, students can state they are not very certain of their answers (less than 67%), fairly certain of their responses (more than 67%), or very certain of their answers (more than 80%). Then, their grades are adjusted according to how confident they are.
  • Grant students unlimited quiz attempts. Allow students to take quizzes as many times as possible. When students are able to take quizzes multiple times, they are more likely to retain the correct information and apply that material to later assessments.
    • Tip: Enforce a delay between quiz attempts to ensure students are learning the material instead of just memorizing answers.

Moodle’s Assignment Tools

Though Moodle’s gradebook works well for ordinary grading and feedback purposes, professors can use more advanced grading methods, such as rubrics or marking guides, to provide online students with more thorough comments.

  • Create rubrics. Moodle’s rubrics assign absolute point values to different components of an assignment. By utilizing a rubric, a professor can click on an appropriate point value when assessing a student’s work, and Moodle will then assign a suitable grade. Students are able to see a faculty member’s rubric when viewing their grades.
    • Tip: Professors can also scale grades when using rubrics by weighing various components accordingly.
  • Utilize Moodle’s marking guides. Marking guides permit faculty to enter comments for each criterion or component of an assignment. Further, professors can assign individual point values for each of those pieces, and Moodle then automatically calculates a student’s grade.


VoiceThread is a web-based application that allows individuals to create and share collections of images, videos, and documents, so others can comment on them and start conversations. VoiceThread initiates discussions between faculty and students, and it also lets students interact with one another.


Piazza is a free question and answer tool that is styled like a wiki page. This resource can be embedded into Moodle, and it permits students and faculty to post notes, questions, and polls online onto discussion forums. All posts are updated in real-time.


Screencasting is similar to a taking a screenshot, but instead of using static images, it allows users to record videos of what is happening on their computer screens. Professors can record on-screen narrations, and screencasting can be a powerful tool to teach students through visuals and audio.

If you are interested in teaching online courses and would like to learn more, contact Dr. Cheri Crabb with Teaching and Learning Technologies at 336.278.5006 or

Image by Flickr user Dell’s Official Flickr PageCreative Commons licensed BY-CC 2.0

Sam Parker

Sam Parker is a Marketing Student Writer Intern with Elon University's Teaching and Learning Technologies.

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