MusicCircle – creative peer feedback goes digital


flickr photo by betmari shared under a Creative Commons (BY-NC) license

Giving and receiving feedback from peers is a great way to learn. After all, professionals do it all the time. Organising this type of activity during a seminar can be difficult, but there are now many online tools for sharing and annotating text. When student’s work is not text-based, however, something else is required.

Dr Chris Kiefer, Lecturer in Music Technology of MusicCircle @luuma

Dr Chris Kiefer, Lecturer in Music Technology @luuma

Chris Kiefer (Media, Film and Music) is using MusicCircle, an online peer learning and peer feedback system that he was involved in developing as part of the EU PRAISE project. For this post, Anne Hole asked Chris about MusicCircle

‘MusicCircle was originally developed for musicians but could equally be applied to many other fields.’

Chris explains that ‘MusicCircle is a peer learning and peer feedback system. With the aim of enabling creative feedback…. It is a venue for people to share their work and provides an environment for constructive peer feedback between students.’

The key to the tool is its ‘social timeline’ which lets the users highlight a section of audio or video and add a comment – this can then be discussed with others. Although you can add brief comments to audio using SoundCloud or discuss YouTube videos, Chris argues that they do not allow for the sort of detailed feedback which will help students to improve their work.

Designed initially for musicians at Goldsmiths College, MusicCircle takes online the regular feedback sessions which encouraged students to provide constructive feedback to each other.

Chris believes that one of the strengths of MusicCircle is that it teaches students to both give and receive creative feedback. It can also ‘increase a sense of community around a course’.

Peer feedback is good for students because when we learn how to constructively give feedback we learn how to use feedback constructively in our own work.

The system has been developed and tested with various groups across the five European universities involved in the project and there is even a version that works with coding.

See the system demonstrated in this YouTube video – 

At Sussex, Chris has begun using the system with music technology students on the ‘History and Practice of Electronic Music’ module. Students ‘make a 1-minute piece each week based on what they have been learning. They can share those pieces with each other – so they can access them not only within their seminar groups but across the cohort’. But Chris emphasises that this is not just an online activity – ‘It provides a mechanism for a session in class where we play each other’s music and discuss  the music’ as well as letting learners ‘access the work out of class and continue the feedback’.

MusicCircle could be useful for anything that involves time-based media that people can give feedback on – videos of student work, interviews, presentations etc.

There has been some good feedback from users and Chris will be developing his use of MusicCircle with his students in 2016-17.

To find out more about the PRAISE project see the Papers, articles & Related Initiatives.

If you would like to discuss possible ways that MusicCircle could be used in your teaching at Sussex please contact Chris Kiefer who will be happy to talk to you.

To discuss other options for using technology to develop peer learning and feedback contact the TEL team

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Introducing our brand new podcast – Teaching with Tech


flickr photo by Adriano Gasparri shared under a Creative Commons (BY-SA) license

Looking for creative ideas to engage students? Wondering how to incorporate technology into your teaching? We have a brand new podcast for you!  

The Teaching with Tech Podcast is a podcast produced by the Technology Enhanced Learning department at the University of Sussex.


It can be found here: 

Read more ›

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Posted in App review, Technology Enhanced Learning

What can you learn? TEL training out now!


flickr photo by “Caveman Chuck” Coker shared under a Creative Commons (BY-ND) license

To start the new academic year, Technology Enhanced Learning have revamped our programme of staff development workshops with a brand new list of sessions for the Autumn term.

From ‘Learning by creating with smartphones’ to ‘Augmented reality and virtual reality in the classroom’ this range of workshops aims to provide you with the tools and ideas to help you make the most of technology in your teaching and prepare for the term ahead.

This term’s workshops pick up on themes that we have been hearing about across campus for example the implementation of the flipped learning approach or how to better engage international students. Below are three new workshops that we have picked out to tell you more about: Read more ›

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Doing it digitally: embedding digital skills in the curriculum

digital skills in the curriculum

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Whether we talk about digital skills, digital literacy or digital capabilities there is no doubt that students need to develop their use and understanding of digital tools (see Digital Skills for the UK Economy).

Don’t be misled by talk of the ‘digital native’ who by virtue of being born in the internet era has an innate understanding and ability to use technologies.

Just because students own smartphones and use social media to communicate with their friends doesn’t mean that they can use digital tools professionally, critically evaluate them and make informed decisions about online security, identity and digital wellbeing Read more ›

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Using screen capture as an instructional tool

This week we are handing over the blog to Daniel Vince-Archer, Course Coordinator in Undergraduate Business and Management.

Daniel has recently created a number of ‘how to’ screen capture videos using VideoStudio X9. You will find VideoStudio X9 in your Software Centre.

Over to you, Daniel.

“I hear, and I forget; I see, and I know; I do, and I understand” – ancient Chinese proverb.

Over the past six months, the course administration team here in the School of Business, Management & Economics (BMEc) has been collaboratively producing a series of ‘how-to’ guides. These document how the team carries out the administrative tasks and processes needed for undergraduate and postgraduate courses in BMEc to run as effectively and efficiently as possible. Read more ›

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Work shadowing: a week in the life of a Learning Technologist

This week we are handing over the blog to Sarah Brown, Clerical Assistant in the University’s Development and Alumni Relations Office who has joined TEL for a week of work shadowing. 

Over to you, Sarah. 


Sarah Brown, Development & Alumni Relations at Sussex.

This week I have been very excited to be working in the Technology Enhanced Learning (TEL) department at Sussex as part of the University’s pilot work shadowing scheme for staff.

I have been shadowing Learning Technologist, Pete Sparkes, who works closely with academics in the social science cluster of schools, assisting them in using technologies to enhance their teaching practice.

In this post I will be sharing my experience of a ‘week in the life’ of a Learning Technologist, and my personal learning experiences from the week.  Read more ›

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Technology Enhanced Language Learning


flickr photo by Thomas Hawk shared under a Creative Commons (BY-NC) license.

In this post we’ll look at technology that can help you or your students to learn a new language.

We’ve covered the popular language app, Duolingo, previously in Gamifying language learning.

But what other digital tools and social networks are available to help you learn?  Read more ›

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Posted in App review, Mobile learning, Technology Enhanced Learning

Developing accessible web content

In our recent post Making learning accessible through technology, Tab Betts (@MrTabKey) took us through some valuable tools that promote inclusivity, productivity and help overcome what are for some significant barriers to learning.

Dr David Sloan

Dr David Sloan – UX Research Lead, The Paciello Group

A growing range of free content creation tools (e.g. WordPress) and intuitive social media platforms (e.g Facebook) have opened up web authoring to the masses, but as non-experts in web content creation this can inadvertently result in the introduction of accessibility challenges.  Read more ›

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About our blog

We are the Technology Enhanced Learning (TEL) team at the University of Sussex. We publish posts each week on using technology to support teaching and learning. Read more about us.

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