Why providing feedback is critical for online learning

Kerrie-Anne Chinn, Content & Editorial Manager

Providing meaningful feedback is a very important part of any learning environment, allowing learners to monitor and track their performance, while making sure they’re on the right path towards their goals. Feedback is also a valuable tool for educators, with discussions with learners helping content creators to assess the effectiveness of their materials and improve processes.

In a traditional classroom or training room environment, educators can provide direct face-to-face feedback to our learners, in real time. This can be harder for online learners, completing self-paced modules and courses in the comfort of their own home or office. However, having access to meaningful feedback is just as important for these learners.


With one in four college students in the United States studying online, and 77% of US companies offering online corporate training to staff, it’s vital that we think about how we’re delivering feedback to our  online learners.

So what steps are you taking to provide feedback to online learners? Do your online training courses contain effective feedback methods for eLearners?

Let’s look at the benefits of feedback for both learners and content creators.

The Benefits Of Meaningful Feedback

For Online Learners

Meaningful feedback is an essential component of keeping students or staff motivated and engaged with learning material. When students or employees can see that you’re genuinely interested in the success of your materials or program, they’ll feel greater levels of engagement and motivation.

Providing effective feedback helps eLearners get the most out of online materials, and can have a significant impact on overall learner performance outcomes.

When learning online, feedback allows the learner to assess their progress and determine potential areas of self-improvement. It promotes self-reflection, increases knowledge retention and encourages constructive discussion with instructors or other online learners.

The Benefits Of Meaningful Feedback

For Online Content Creators

As well as being vital for eLearners, feedback also provides content owners with important information they can use to increase the effectiveness of their online materials.

As a content creator, you no doubt want to make sure your online courses are as engaging, educational, and motivational as possible for learners. Proactively gathering feedback allows you to make continual improvements to your products and processes, improving the learning experience for your users and helping them to achieve their training goals.

3 Ways To Provide Feedback For eLearners

You can successfully provide feedback to eLearners at all stages of their online journey –throughout a course, immediately upon finishing a course, and even a few months after completion.

1. Throughout Online Courses.

Supplying feedback to learners throughout the duration of a course is a great way to keep users engaged and motivated. Providing performance indicators can help keeping individuals focused and on track, allowing them to see how they’re progressing throughout the course.

Choose, or create, an online course that uses interactive content in the form of short surveys or quizzes – learners will be able to check how successful they’ve been in retaining the content. This can serve to motivate and reward learners when they answer correctly, as well as helping them to grasp the right answer when they answer incorrectly.

For content creators, completion rates of different segments of an online course can be used to gauge feedback on the engagement factor – if users are not completing certain courses, or certain parts of courses, it’s worth looking at revamping and improving the material.

2. Immediately After Completing An Online Course.

Engaging with learners directly after the completion of a course is the best time to gather accurate feedback about their learning experience, while their thoughts and experiences are still fresh and unclouded.

A simple survey is a very quick and effective way to ask learners to take the time to reflect on their performance, evaluating their results in terms of their goals and expectations. The goal of most training courses is to improve skills or increase knowledge – ask participants to provide honest feedback on whether the course met their expectations, providing them with the skills or knowledge they need.

This information can also be of great benefit to educators, providing them with an insight into what worked and didn’t work throughout the course. Content creators will have a better understanding of potential improvements for their course materials from this feedback.

3. Following Up Further Down The Track.

It’s well worth following up with eLearners a few months after they’ve finished an online course, to see how successfully they’ve retained the knowledge or skills acquired.

Another short survey or quiz will allow you to see how much content participants have retained. Learners will also be able to see how their performance has improved since taking the course and if there are any areas that need some more work.

For managers and team leaders, you can assess staff performance 3 months after completion of an online course, to see if it’s had a positive effect on an individual’s overall performance.

As you can see, having access to effective and meaningful feedback has many benefits to both learners and educators. Take a look at your online course materials and think about the steps you’re taking to provide feedback to eLearners.

If you’re interested in finding out more about creating a culture driven by meaningful feedback, check out the online course Delivering Employee Feedback. You’ll learn more about the different types of feedback and how you can help employees stretch and grow.


This article was originally published on eLearningIndustry.com

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