Meaningful Feedback For Online Learners
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Meaningful Feedback For Online Learners

Constructive feedback can transform a student’s learning experience. It encourages them to reflect, deal with criticism, learn better and stay motivated.

However, providing feedback in an online course is not as straightforward. In fact, the lack of meaningful feedback happens to be one of the biggest challenges online learners face.

In a traditional classroom setting, instructors get more facetime with students, this allows them to gauge students and offer frequent feedback accordingly. The same cannot be said about online classes because the interaction is limited.

So, how do you create a conducive learning environment in online classrooms and prevent students from feeling isolated? Here are 6 ways to provide meaningful feedback to online learners:

1. Set Clear Expectations

When you are designing an online discussion, take a moment to think about what you want the students to achieve. By setting clear expectations and giving specific instructions at the beginning, students get a better idea of what is expected of them, and it saves both parties time.

From sharing specific guidelines on writing discussion posts and grading metrics to communicating due dates, your response time and establishing class participation rules, it helps students to be aware and minimizes the possibilities of miscommunication.

2. Make It Actionable

If you find yourself giving feedback along the lines of “it needs work” or “good job,” you need a change in strategy because nothing confuses students more than vague feedback.

If you are impressed with an assignment, don’t just leave it to “good job.” Instead, tell the student what stood out and left you impressed. Similarly, if someone needs to improve, specify what exactly and the approach they can take.

Your students need to derive value from your feedback. It needs to inspire some sort of change or action. So, every time you are giving feedback, make it goal-oriented and actionable for it to be truly effective.

3. Personalize It

Given the dynamics of online learning, it is common for students to feel distant and isolated during the course. One of the best ways to prevent your students from feeling this way is by delivering personalized feedback.

As per a study, students who receive personalized feedback have higher levels of course satisfaction and perform academically better than those students who receive only collective feedback.

A simple act, like using the student’s name while writing feedback, also helps in developing your connection with the student. So, keep those generic responses aside and provide feedback, tailor-made to every student’s work and capabilities in order to maximize their potential.

4. Share In Audio Format

Considering that most of the communication in online courses happens in text, there are chances of your feedback being misconstrued. How do you change that? By integrating audio in your feedback mechanism.

You may avoid this method thinking it is time-consuming but you will be surprised to know how much of a difference it makes when you speak out your feedback rather than writing it. When receiving audio feedback, students tend to be more engaged, are better able to understand the real intent, and retain the information.

So, the next time you need to deliver complicated, in-depth feedback, consider sending it in an audio format. Have your notes ready before you begin recording and always begin with the student’s name.

5. Be Timely

When a student has to wait too long to receive feedback, it impacts their motivation levels and leaves them feeling unsure. Moreover, the online way of learning just tends to widen that gap.

When you deliver timely feedback, it lets students know that you are actively involved and gives them the reassurance that you are as committed to the course as they are. So, commit to providing feedback within 24–48 hours, so that the assignment is still fresh in students’ minds.

6. Encourage Peer Feedback

Who says the feedback has to be directed to students from instructors only? A great way to give feedback while promoting increased interaction and engagement in online classes is by encouraging peer reviews.

Peer feedback refers to when students review each other’s work and provide meaningful feedback. You can take a back seat and moderate this exercise by letting students indulge in a healthy exchange of perspectives.

To streamline this session and make it interesting, you can provide specific feedback metrics that students can consider while critiquing each other’s work.

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