November 4, 2019
Receiving feedback is integral in any sort of learning, regardless of whichever learning methodology is used. Feedback is important for learners in order for them to understand what they did right and what they did not, as well as to learn from the mistakes they may make in the learning process.
Accurate feedback acts as a guide for learners, one which allows them to analyze their performance, motivates them, challenges them and satisfies them. Although no learning methodology is ever devoid of feedback, it is possible for learning and development (L&D) professionals to give feedback to learners that is just not sufficient. Insufficient or half-baked feedback can hurt learners and throw a wrench in the absorption and retention process, which is why it is important for L&D professionals working in corporate organizations to know how best to give feedback in L&D programs.
As eLearning or digital learning is the learning methodology most commonly used in modern organizations, in this article we will discuss how best to give feedback in eLearning.
A lot of times feedback in eLearning modules is restricted to just “This is correct.” or “This is incorrect.” This leaves the learner with no new information, and in eLearning you have to make sure that the learner learns something with every interaction. So, it is important that when you provide feedback, that you explain why an answer or choice is correct or incorrect, and if it incorrect, what the correct answer is and why. This ensures that the learner does not make the same mistake again. It requires a little extra effort on the instructional designer’s part, but hey, isn’t it worth it if it provides your employees with more information? Don’t skimp on it.
Gamification is a great way to provide feedback to learners in a an engaging manner. Gamification allows you to add game-like elements like points, goals, achievements, timers, star bars and rewards which incentivize feedback. Learners gain points for each correct answer or choice, gather achievements by doing extraordinary tasks like answering all questions, fall down the leader board by incorrectly answering questions, and gain rewards by competing with their peers. All of this constitutes feedback which motivates learners, making learning fun and addictive.
It is important to make sure that all feedback, whether it be for a correct answer or an incorrect one, is carefully worded or presented in a constructive manner, and does not criticize learners for their answers or choices. Criticism or negative feedback demotivates learners, is mostly misinterpreted no matter what the intention of the instructional designer, and can lead to learners not completing the course or module.
We live in the era of personalization. These days websites and apps are all personalized for the user, as it increases engagement. After all, who doesn’t like something that is designed or created exclusively for them? The same idea can be used in eLearning. Tailor eLearning modules to the individual needs of your learners, and personalize feedback according to the their job-role, their choices as well as the specific goal or objective of the module or course. For example, if the learner is a sales executive and the module’s objective is to help them communicate better with clients or customers, the feedback should emphasize how they better develop their verbal and non-verbal communication skills.
The skills and knowledge that the learners will develop through eLearning courses and modules will have to be applied in the real world. To ensure that they can easily transfer learned knowledge from the virtual world of the eLearning course to the real world, design feedback in a way that helps learners understand how their actions, choices or behaviours have consequences that may be good or bad for them, both in the virtual world as well as the real world. A great way to do that is by using branching scenarios based on what would happen in real life. This helps them understand the gravity of their choices in a safe, virtual environment.
Follow the above-mentioned tips to give effective feedback to your learners that helps them be more productive. Keep reading up on tips and keep trying out different styles of feedback until you get a solution that fits you, your organization and your learners perfectly.
Daniel Brown is a senior technical editor and writer that has worked in the education and technology sectors for two decades. Their background experience includes curriculum development and course book creation.