Later today, I have a meeting with one of our instructors. This individual did not develop the course he taught nor does he have extensive experience teaching online. Our meeting is to discuss how the course was developed, designed, and how it runs. This meeting had me thinking about how feedback can come from a lot of different sources - instructors, students, other designers, etc. While I look for different feedback sources when looking at the design of the course - it made me think about if we are using this concept of 'varied feedback' within our online courses. Are our online students also receiving ongoing and varied feedback/assessment?
Research has shown that students in online courses (especially accelerated ones) not only crave but need feedback. It is also important to note, that not all assignments require the same type of feedback technique. By varying the feedback types - an instructor may be able reach out to more learners and keep them engaged at all levels. However, how does one do this?
First - we should always remember to follow the Best Practices for Providing Online Feedback (Leibold & Schwarz, 2015):
Address the learner by name
Provide frequent feedback
Provide immediate feedback
Provide balanced feedback
Provide specific feedback
Use a positive tone
Ask questions to promote thinking
At no point, should the above elements become "lost" or "forgotten" during the feedback process regardless of the "type" of feedback being given. First, instructor feedback should always be given. Ongoing feedback from the instructor allows for students to understand where they need to improve and what they should continue to do. I believe in any course - instructor feedback should be provided. However, there are other ways to give feedback to help with motivation:
Self-Assessment - while this may not be the best in terms of individual growth - it does serve as a great reflective tool.
Peer-to-Peer Feedback - In some cases, peer feedback allows for multiple perspectives and also helps learners to understand that work sometimes can be products of a 'larger' community. In a large class, peer feedback can also assist the instructor on receiving a high-level of work (which may help the instructor's workload).
Guest Feedback - This method seems to work in more experiential or project-based courses where a client is involved. Feedback from an outside individual who has direct experience in the field can help prepare students for feedback from a different viewpoint (not necessarily an academic tone).
Automatic - Computer Generated - Feedback - In some courses where exams or quizzes are used, automatic feedback can be given to users. While some feedback may be auto-populated, keep in mind spending a bit more time to personalize and guide the students can help in the long run. This is especially important if students are going to be required to take the test a few times in order to receive a passing grade.
Audio Feedback - In some cases, screen capturing software can be used to give directed feedback on a learner's project. With voice over capabilities, learners can hear the instructor's voice and tone and understand which aspects of the project are being directed. Think of using audio feedback much like one would use the notes features in Word or PDF. However, instead of leaving a note - the instructor can just state what the problem is or what the learner is doing well.
Google Docs - For some projects (especially papers), Google Docs is a great way to keep track of changes, versions, and notes when drafting papers. If the instructor has access to the paper at all times, he or her and hop in during unexpected times to provide feedback to help guide the learner without having specific time frames.
Regardless of the type of feedback, it should be clear to the learners when to expect the feedback. Make it clear of the time frames in which students should receive feedback. It also helps to clearly define to the students how feedback will be given. In some cases, learners may not be receptive to a certain type of feedback due to a number of reasons - you (as the instructor) should always be willing to work with the student to ensure their best interests are in mind.
Until next week,