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7 Tips To Give Constructive Criticism In eLearning

Feedback is a vital component of eLearning experiences, but only if it comes in the form of constructive criticism. In this article, I’ll share 7 tips to give your online learners the constructive feedback they need to succeed.
7 Tips To Give Constructive Criticism In eLearning

How To Give Constructive Criticism In eLearning

Human beings typically don’t respond well to criticism. This is primarily due to the fact that we prefer to be praised for our strengths rather than critiqued for our weaknesses. However, in order for online learners to expand their knowledge and achieve their goals, criticism must be an essential part of the online learning process. Effective constructive criticism has the power to correct learning behaviors and, ultimately, enhance their personal and professional growth. Here are 7 tips that can help you give effective constructive criticism to your audience.

  1. Always pair criticism with improvement goals.
    The primary purpose of giving your online learners constructive criticism is improvement. As such, it’s important to always offer them learning goals that go along with the critiques. If the goal is more involved, you can also give them milestones that they can focus on along the way. For example, if they need to concentrate on their study habits, encourage them to develop a plan that gradually builds study skills. This allows your online learners to focus on the positive rather than dwelling on the negative, and gives them the learning motivation they need to move beyond the mistake.
  2. Be as specific as possible.
    Vague constructive criticism in eLearning is the same with a complete lack of criticism. You must be able to give them specific details about what they did incorrectly and how they can improve in order for your eLearning feedback to be truly effective. If there are deadlines involved for meeting certain goals, then be clear about those as well and give learners reminders leading up to the date. You can also provide them specific examples that cite instances in the past when they exhibited the incorrect behaviors. For example, you can mention that they did not complete every step in the return process the previous week when you are constructively criticizing them about their customer service skills.
  3. Choose your words carefully.
    Constructive criticism can seem more like an attack than helpful advice if you don’t choose your words carefully. In general, you should avoid using words like “I” or “you”. This can make the criticism feel more personal in nature. Instead opt for words such as “all of us” that make the issue seem more common and help the learner to see that they are not alone. You should also use uplifting and motivational language that is non-judgmental. Remember, the goal is to give them the help they need, not to make them feel like they are being called out for their mistakes.
  4. Lead off with a compliment.
    This can be one of the most challenging aspects of giving constructive criticism in eLearning, especially if the learner has a more serious or ongoing issue to resolve. However, it is important to start your criticism with a compliment, in order to assure your learner that you genuinely care about their eLearning experience. It’s a good idea to begin your criticism by highlighting their key strengths and positive traits, then move into what they can improve upon. You can also follow this up by reiterating their strengths and  giving them an extra dose of motivation and inspiration.
  5. Concentrate on problems with solutions.
    One of the most common mistakes that people make when giving criticism is to address problems that don’t have any viable or realistic solutions. For example, you cannot ask a learner to change something about themselves that is an ingrained personality trait or to improve upon something that they have absolutely no control over. This will only discourage them and make your online learners feel as though they are inadequate in some way, rather than uplifting them and encouraging them to do their very best. In addition, this is yet another reason why goal setting is so essential. If you can come up with goals to pair with the criticism, then you can be certain that there are actually solutions to the problem.
  6. Involve the learner in the feedback process.
    Constructive criticism in eLearning is not a one-way street. In fact, you can give your learner the chance to share their thoughts and suggestions during the online conversation to empower them. If they know that they have a direct say in the improvement process they are more likely to make the changes. Try to avoid simply telling them what they should do or how they can improve. Instead, allow them to address any concerns they may have and share their opinions about which goals they should set.
  7. Follow Up.
    This is one of the most vital steps in the constructive criticism process, as it ensures that the learner stays on-track and actually heeds your words of advice. After offering them the critique keep in touch and monitor their progress. Ask them how they are making an effort to achieve the learning objectives that you’ve set. You may even want to provide them with a list of supplemental oline learning resources, such as eLearning videos and articles, they can use to improve their skills and expand their understanding of the topic. If possible, schedule periodic online meetings to discuss the issue and determine whether they need additional support to achieve their goals. Keep in mind that improvement is often a gradual process, especially if the issue is more involved.

Use these 7 tips to give online learners the constructive feedback they need in eLearning without causing offense. Also, keep in mind that praise is a great source of motivation, but it must be personal in order to be truly effective. So, give praise when praise is due, and offer struggling online learners a helping hand with carefully crafted critiques.

Giving feedback in eLearning is one thing; but how to solicit it in order to gather valuable information about the effectiveness of your eLearning course is equally important. Read the article, 4 eLearning Course Evaluation Strategies To Receive Valuable Feedback so that you will be able to know exactly what is right or wrong with your eLearning course.

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