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How to give the best feedback to your online learners

Feedback is necessary in every human activity, it regulates behavior and it is at the core of personal growth. What is more, feedback is especially crucial in e-learning since face to face communication is not always an option.

Giving feedback is a sensitive matter, so it has to be dealt with carefully. The purpose of feedback is to help students maximize their potential. In any case, constructive feedback is the basis of improvement, so as an instructor, you have to avoid treating this matter swiftly.

Furthermore, feedback should be consistent and it has to persist throughout instruction. In this way, learners can improve their performance and achieve their goals.

8 Tips on how to give the best feedback to your online learners

Feedback is essential to successful learning. If you care about the people who buy your courses — and of course you do — you want them to be successful in their learning endeavors. One way to ensure that is to incorporate feedback throughout the course so that they know they’re on the right track; or if they aren’t, to get back on it as fast as possible.

Learners are different and the way they reach goals and master concepts differ from person to person. As an educator, you have to know how to approach them, guide them and, most of all, how to give feedback.

To make your job easier, here are some tips to giving feedback to your online students:

  1. Be clear from the very beginning

    In order to have a clear picture of where your learners are in their learning process, you need to let them know what the learning goals are, what they need to master in order to finish the course and how to do it. This means that they need to know what is expected of them and what to do to achieve the goals you preset.

    If you do this, learners can understand better what is required of them and if they are on the right track or not.

  2. Divide and conquer

    When you set up the goals for your course, make sure they are reachable. Create a path with smaller milestones to reach so as to enable their continuous development. This is also important when you provide feedback.

    Having divided your goals into more tangible bits you can provide feedback on one area of improvement at a time. If you'd dropped it all at once, it could be overwhelming for your learners and may be counterproductive.

  3. Make your point

    Choosing your words when giving feedback is crucial. A superficial feedback can discourage learners and lose their motivation to study. Avoid saying “great job” or “not good enough”. Instead, pinpoint exactly what’s good or what needs more work, with examples and actionable advice.

    Learners need you to be specific and show that you've read their work. You can include some words they used to prove you really considered their contribution.

  4. Act fast

    To make sure your feedback has the resonance you expect, it has to be given in 24-48 hours from the moment your learners submitted their work.

    Providing feedback in a timely manner, when the learner needs it the most, is essential. Not only do learners benefit more from the feedback, but they also remember their work better and are able to understand and apply the suggestions you give.

  5. Be human

    Although you are instructing your learners online, you can still be human. Use their name and comment on their individual progress. In this way you personalize the feedback you provide and it doesn't feel given by a robot-like being.

    As a result, your students will perceive you as a real person and will be willing to give their all to perform better and better.

  6. Be kind

    Feedback is supposed to be constructive. To be able to do this, you need to choose your words wisely and be concise. Furthermore, focus on what learners were able to achieve and then discuss what they need to improve. You should also include only one or two issues to tackle in one feedback.

    This will make your feedback actionable and relevant. Moreover, underlying the positive rather than the negative aspects of your learners' performance will make them more motivated and engaged.

  7. Don’t make it personal

    Feedback has to focus on the behavior that needs to be changed, not on the learner. While personalizing feedback is beneficial, directing your feedback towards your learners and not their work will backfire.

    By considering this, learners will not feel offended or demotivated which contributes tremendously to their level of perseverance, thus enabling them to reach their full potential.

  8. Diversify your delivery

    The traditional feedback is done face to face. Since this is not always possible online, using written feedback is a solution. But you need to consider other ways to transmit it. Text is not the only way. You can record your voice or shoot a video to make your students feel that you are a real person and you care.

    While text feedback can be considered impersonal and video feedback can put a strain on the instructor, audio feedback seems to be the best option. It allows your students to feel like they have a real instructor and you, as the instructor, can provide feedback faster than you'd be able to do by texting. In addition, students perform better when they know they are being monitored by a human.

Stay tuned!

Always keep in mind that feedback is a two-way street: you can give it to your learners and you can also be on the receiving end.

Your learners can provide you the feedback you need to see if your instruction is successful and how you can improve your course to suit various needs.

Next time we’ll explore a few best practices on how to collect the most relevant feedback from your learners so that you can improve the content, design or delivery of your next online course.

So keep an eye on the Entrepreneurs Blog!

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