Giving feedback with Zoom (and checking with BigBlueButton)

– from the series “Good online didactics with Zoom” –

This is the fourth and last part of our series “Good online didactics with Zoom”. The first three articles offered a didactic introduction to Zoom, a practical step-by-step introduction and recommendations for combining it with other tools (see below).

Why is feedback particularly valuable in digital teaching?

A good assessment of learning progress – and thus implicitly of the quality of learning and the learning environment – is often only possible with a view to the examination results at the end of the course. At the same time, data from the teaching evaluation are often available.

Compared to these forms of summative assessment, formative assessment (or feedback) offers the advantage that teachers receive feedback during the course. Meaningful changes can then be made in the same semester (Kautz 2014). Two levels of goals can be distinguished in feedback: On the one hand, the information gained can relate to the quality and increase in the students’ subject-specific understanding or, on the other hand, more to the quality of the organisation and design of teaching.

Especially in digital teaching, it makes sense to get feedback from students during the course. This is not only for the practical reason that the rapid acquisition and use of new teaching tools in the ‘Corona Semester’ 2020 necessarily entails a need for follow-up. In addition, digital teaching – for example, with events in Zoom and Stud.IP – means that previous levels of communication, which are elementary for offline learning settings, are no longer available and must be replaced by new forms: These include spontaneous and uncomplicated questions from the person sitting next to you and the possibility of informal clarification with the lecturer immediately after the event (or listening in when others ask). Undertones and overtones are also less perceptible when fellow students or lecturers talk about specific examples, applications or upcoming exam topics. In a nutshell: At first, the individual is more at risk of being less well oriented to learning content and expectations of his or her own learning actions and of having to accept more often that even small questions remain unanswered.

How can I get feedback about Zoom?

In order for the teachers to become aware of these deficits, formative feedback can be obtained with little effort using Zoom. For example, at a certain point in time, the participants can be asked to comment briefly in the chat with 1-2 sentences on some aspects on which you as a teacher would like to receive an assessment. By writing and sending the participants’ chat contributions synchronously, a mutual influence on the response behaviour is avoided. After the feedback phase is finished, you can close the chat and save the chat protocol at the end of the session for evaluation. In order to get anonymous answers, the feedback can already be announced before the session, whereby the students are simultaneously asked to log in to the session with an alias name and to switch off their own video image. When the feedback is collected at the beginning of a session, the participants can then switch on their video image and overwrite their alias name with their real name under “Participants” à “More” à “Rename”.

Another variant is to ask the students to discuss certain questions or keywords in buzz groups that take place in breakout sessions. Results can be collected immediately in the online whiteboard or Etherpad and then presented, supplemented or weighted via the survey function in the next step in the Zoom plenary, for example.

How can I find other methods for digital feedback?

If you need a different feedback tool more for your digital event, you can select a manageable method on the central TUHH page Event-related feedback. Here, various options are suggested to you based on the two questions, whether feedback on the students’ progress in understanding or on the design of the teaching is desired and whether it is a small or large event. The ZLL will be happy to advise you on the selection and adaptation to your subject teaching. This also includes the question of whether completely anonymous feedback is desired and how this can be achieved.

For example, the Teaching Analysis Poll (TAP), which has already been successfully introduced at TUHH and which can be used to obtain free, open feedback on the course, can be implemented as TAPdigital for courses of any size. The feedback is then determined by the ZLL, carried out via Zoom and takes up about half of the time of a regular lecture.

On the other hand, online surveys, which have been used extensively at TUHH for a long time, are a good way to break down more complex problems. Smaller procedures such as a digital flash or one-minute paper, which are carried out via the TUHH’s Etherpad, are good options.

Checking with BigBlueButton

While Zoom and other methods are very good ways of obtaining semester-long feedback on teaching, at the TU Hamburg checking is reserved for the open source-based web conferencing system BigBlueButton (Computer Centre of the TU Hamburg). It is well suited for secure communication with groups of up to 40 participants. These include, for example, seminar and exercise groups as well as advisory and examination discussions.

The functionality of BigBlueButton includes, for example, a whiteboard for group collaboration and a drawing tool. In addition, the survey, chat and breakout room functions offer some of the possibilities familiar from Zoom (see the second article in our series on good online didactics with Zoom). For a more detailed assessment of how the system can be used in concrete terms, the Higher Education Forum on Digitisation offers an overview of important aspects of use.

This is the fourth and last part of our series “Good online didactics with Zoom”. The previous articles 01 to 03 are available here:

01 Teaching with Zoom – didactically speaking

02 Hands on – designing a course with Zoom and Stud.IP

03Optimise zoom events with additional tools

04 Giving feedback with Zoom (and checking with BigBlueButton)


Kautz, C. (2014). Examinations – an introduction from a subject didactic perspective. In Centre for Teaching and Learning (ed.). On the test bench. Assessing learning in technical subjects. Hamburg: TU Hamburg-Harburg, pp. 6-10.

Computing Centre of the TU Hamburg (2020). BigBlueButton. Accessed on 06.07.2020 at

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