7 Surprising Drawbacks Of Online Peer-Based Feedback And Tips To Avoid Them

7 Surprising Drawbacks Of Online Peer-Based Feedback And Tips To Avoid Them
Summary: A supportive and collaborative learning culture centers on free-flowing knowledge exchange. However, implementing a successful peer-to-peer feedback system can lead to a variety of training challenges. In this article, I share 7 surprising downfalls of peer-based feedback and tips to avoid them.

Peer-Based Feedback: How To Avoid 7 Surprising Drawbacks

You want your online learners to feel free to share their thoughts and opinions for the betterment of their peers. However, eLearning feedback can sometimes be messy, especially if the giver isn’t aware of the receiver’s emotions, background, and experiences. This is often the case in remote learning environments. It’s relatively easy to criticize someone’s work or judge their ideas if you’re sitting behind a screen. For this reason, online instructors and eLearning designers should know about the potential pitfalls to mitigate risks. Here are 7 unexpected drawbacks of online peer-based feedback and tips to facilitate the knowledge sharing process.

7 Unexpected Cons Of Online Peer-Based Feedback

1. Conflicts That Arise From Lack Of Cultural Competency

Some online learners may not have as much cultural awareness as others. Thus, their eLearning feedback ends up offending peers with different backgrounds or societal norms. This is why it’s crucial to foster cultural competency and cultivate a culture that respects diversity. Incorporate simulations that allow online learners to see things from a different perspective. You can also encourage online learners who are offended to privately address the issue with their peer or seek the help of a moderator/manager.

2. Online Learners ‘Go Easy’ On Friends And Inhibit The Process

Online learners who are on a friendly basis with peers may not be completely forthright when giving online peer-based feedback. Which inhibits the process to the point that they don’t get any real value from the eLearning experience. Instead, they’re ‘sugar coating’ their input and not highlighting areas for improvement. You must stress the importance of being honest and open when exchanging eLearning feedback. Even if that means employing some constructive criticism from time to time, as long as it’s not offensive or disrespectful.

3. No Way To Effectively Monitor eLearning Feedback

This is actually more of a misconception than a drawback. Many organizations avoid peer-based feedback because they are under the assumption that there’s no way to track it. It’s true, it can be more difficult to monitor peer-to-peer exchanges. Especially if they occur outside the structured eLearning environment. However, you can still moderate eLearning feedback on social media, conduct surveys, and host live events to keep tabs on the peer-based feedback process.

4. Online Learners Don’t Respect Peer-Based Feedback Because It Lacks Authority

Online learners are more likely to respect the input of their team leaders, managers, or other people in a position of authority. This is primarily because they feel these individuals have more experience or wisdom on the topic. After all, they’ve worked hard to rise to the top and their peers cannot possibly offer as much insight, right? The key to overcoming this pitfall is to stress the value of peer-to-peer knowledge sharing. Emphasize the fact that everyone has something unique to offer. Even if they are on the same ‘level.’ You can also create peer coaching profiles that provide an overview of online learners’ areas of expertise and skills. That way, those receiving the eLearning feedback can get a better idea of what that reviewer/coach brings to the table.

5. Social Media Feedback Is Misconstrued

It’s easy to read peer-based feedback and misconstrue the meaning or intent. How many times have you received an email that’s hurt your feelings or put you on guard…only to realize it was taken out of context? The written word doesn’t convey the same emotion or intent as the spoken word. For this reason, you might consider more interactive online peer-based feedback sessions. Such as video conferencing events or online group collab projects. Online learners have the ability to give and receive eLearning feedback in a more engaging way, which prevents misunderstandings.

6. Certain Individuals Haven’t Mastered The Art Of Giving And Receiving eLearning Feedback

Some online learners can give online peer-based feedback like nobody’s business. But receiving it is an entirely different story. In other words, they’re quick to point out others’ faults, but cannot accept that they have weaknesses of their own. Then there are those who are ready to recognize personal pain points, but don’t feel ‘worthy’ of providing feedback to peers. This is why it’s crucial to underscore the significance of two-way feedback and its benefits. You can also include mistake-driven learning activities to open online learners’ eyes to the fact that they do have things to work on. As well as confidence-building activities that help online learners give effective eLearning feedback without feeling less-than or ill-equipped.

7. Online Learners Aren’t Aware Of eLearning Feedback Etiquette

We’ve all been in situations where we’ve been embarrassed for a friend or colleague who received unsolicited feedback. Or maybe for the person who gave the feedback out of turn and didn’t even realize they did anything wrong. Giving and receiving peer-based feedback isn’t about judging others or pointing out their shortcomings. Every online learner should know the golden rules of eLearning feedback. That includes how to deliver the eLearning feedback respectfully, without overstepping their boundaries. And how to identify the best time to provide that feedback.

For instance, it may not be a good idea to point out their peer’s weak spots in the middle of a team meeting. Host online training workshops or produce demo videos that showcase the finer points of eLearning feedback exchange in action. You can also use branching scenarios or serious games to impart real-world experience and allow online learners to fine-tune their approach.


Online peer-based feedback doesn’t have to be fraught with conflict and hurt feelings. Reading this article you can avoid the drawbacks and experience more of the peer support perks. It’s also essential to frame it with a collaborative learning culture that encourages ongoing communication and mutual respect. Everyone should know that they’re welcome to offer their input and know how to use the peer-based feedback provided to achieve their goals.

Is your current LMS up to the task? Are you getting the most from your online training system? Here is a Step-By-Step Guide To Develop A Successful Social Learning Approach For Your Global Workforce will help you encourage peer-based support and create a workplace environment of trust and mentorship.