Digital Innovation Series
02 FeedbackFruits
MARCH, 2019
Digital Innovation
Teaching & Learning
Feedback Fruits
By Dr. Tiffany Gunning, Lecturer in Curriculum Design and Development in the Faculty of SEBE; and, Dr. Andy Wear, Lecturer in Digital Learning Innovation in Deakin Learning Futures.
Tiffany: Online tools to support self- and peer-assessment of teamwork skills have been used in SEBE since 2015 as a way to build students capacity to work productively in teams and to increase student engagement.  Sparkplus has been used in 40 units across the faculty, but the university was keen to see a tool which was fully integrated into D2L.  In Trimester 2 last year, Xavier Conlon from Forensic Science, agreed to trial FeedbackFruits in his unit “Forensic Analysis and Interpretation”. 

Xavier worked closely with the SEBE Learning Support Team and myself who provided the bridge between the development of the new tool and implementation in his unit and with the Learning Innovations Team in DLF who provided the bridge between the university and the developers of FeedbackFruits.

Screenshot of Feedback Fruits
Andy: My role in Learning Innovations is substantively responsive to the digital learning requirements of Deakin’s teachers and learners, however articulating what innovation means in the context of teaching and learning is intrinsic.

This is partly determined by the misuse and misunderstanding of innovation; almost universally applied to technological and commercial pursuits, and perceived as synonymous with change or transformation. Add to the mix an entrepreneurial and cultural environment where innovation is positioned as ‘disruptive’, you can understand how confusion leads to mistrust – particularly in Higher Education settings.

For this reason, I prefer to present innovation as a stabilising force, with as much focus on ‘process innovation’ as on ‘product innovation’. True, we are working with amazing technologies like FeedbackFruits, however reimagining how we communicate, collaborate and support these products also demands an innovative approach – the work we’ve been doing with Tiffany and SEBE is a great demonstration of this.

“The significant improvements made since version one, provided a seamless environment for most students during the second trial in T3”
Tiffany: The initial trial of FeedbackFruits highlighted some issues with the tool’s capabilities and the user experience of both Xavier and his students. FeedbackFruits were quick to respond and priority was given to automated access for students to their teams. The ability for the teaching team to review and moderate student comments before release to students, improved reports for analysis and the creation of a rubric option were also included in the tool in response to Xavier’s feedback. 

The significant improvements made since version one, provided a seamless environment for most students during the second trial in T3.  Once again staff and student evaluations were shared with FeedbackFruits who made further adjustments to the tool. Version 3 is now underway with five units involved in T1 this year. We will continue to evaluate the user experience of our Unit Chairs and students and work with FeedbackFruits to develop this tool.


Andy: Xavier’s experience is not atypical of innovation pilots – there is by definition risk involved in the testing of new products. However, we want to ensure our teachers and students – Deakin’s ‘true north’ – aren’t negatively impacted by our work. It’s a delicate balance!

Tiffany highlights a critical factor – the importance of evaluation to the iterative improvement of the product (and consequently, the student experience).

While it’s essential to understand the risks (and prepare contingency plans), there’s no underestimating the value of experienced teachers who can articulate the pedagogical rationale and requirements for the use of a tool, and a well-organised project team who can support the pedagogical, business and system requirements that facilitate its use. Importantly, in FeedbackFruits we have a very helpful, collaborative and patient partner who are very understanding of Deakin’s requirements!

Useful Resources on FeedbackFruits



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