The Significance of Feedback in Corporate eLearning

How can you tell that you’ve learned something or made progress? One surefire way to know is when someone else tells you that you have, of course.

Learning doesn’t take place in a vacuum: It’s a process, with identifiable stages that you need to manage in order to create the complete package. Besides identifying your corporate learning goals, creating a needs analysis of your learners, and developing your eLearning materials, you also have to incorporate the thing that helps stitch the whole package together: Feedback.

Feedback is a crucial part of the learning journey and shouldn’t be ignored or relegated to an afterthought. Sure, you’ve had feedback sessions as part of your yearly performance reviews that have been awkward, dull, or excruciating – we’ve all been there.

However, without constructive criticism we lose our sense of direction, whether as learners or as an organization. In the same way, as you need to understand your clients’ thoughts and opinions in order to improve your performance, you need to give and receive input on your corporate eLearning.

Feedback is a two-way street. You have to deliver it to your learners as commentary on their progress, while your learners have to, among other things, provide commentary on the course itself. 

Providing Feedback to Corporate Learners

The biggest drawback of the traditional, face-to-face way of giving performance feedback is that it often happens well after the event. Once, during a review, I was asked about a piece of online training I had done ten months earlier. I barely remembered it – and my line manager had only the vaguest recollection, too! Clearly, this meant that the learning opportunity had passed me by.

So, here are 5 things you should keep in mind about your feedback in corporate eLearning context, in order to get the most out of it:

It’s all about timing

Perhaps the first thing to consider is that feedback should be timely, so that it happens both while the learner is engaged in the process and as shortly afterwards as possible. Less time waiting for feedback means more time applying the knowledge that was acquired, in the real working world.

Build most of the feedback mechanism into your eLearning environment, as this type of process gives the learner the chance to act on your input while studying and achieve learning targets faster. Timely feedback also helps maximize your ROI, simply because it expedites learning, assimilation and application.

High quality feedback

It goes without saying that feedback must also be thoughtful and constructive. It’s not enough to tell a learner that they have got an answer right or wrong in a quiz, for example; you should also explain why it’s correct or not.

If quizzes and tests are reduced to mere scores, they are little more than box-ticking exercises with little real world applicability to the learner’s work. Explanations, on the other hand, allow for greater comprehension and reflection, and allow your employees to apply what they have studied in a more flexible manner.

When giving feedback for quizzes and tests, explain the answer using real-life examples, possibly from your own organization’s history. If you have scenario-driven eLearning, consider the use of brief ‘explainer’ videos, once a learner has made a decision.

Language and Relevance

Also, don’t forget to use plenty of positive, encouraging language. Even if it is a short quiz, just a few uplifting words and messages can really make a difference to how the learner engages and performs.

You should also ensure that feedback is relevant. Demonstrate to your learners that what they’re studying has a direct impact on what they do in their working lives. If your eLearning platform uses simulations, for example, you can have branching scenarios that demonstrate the outcomes driven by the user’s decisions. Your learners can then safely learn and correct any errors in the virtual world and apply that knowledge when back at work.

The Peer-to-peer Model

Another way of managing feedback is through a peer-to-peer process. Just as your employees have to collaborate at work, so can they in your Learning and Talent Development Platform.

Ensure your eLearning environment includes collaborative exercises that encourage learners to share ideas and solve problems together. You can also use discussion forums, allowing for an opportunity to enlarge on the scenario, simulation or lesson.

Receiving feedback from learners

Feedback is a two-way process, so you also need to be prepared to receive input. It’s vital to receive, and act on, employee evaluation, as it increases their engagement when they know they are being heard.

The almost universal evaluative tool is the post-course survey, which is of course a great way to comment on the course as a whole, but surveys can also be deployed before and during a course.

It might seem strange to mention feedback that happens prior to learning, but what I’m really talking about is Beta Testing – asking prospective learners to try out your eLearning course before it goes live. After all, you want to deliver courses that actually do what they say on the tin, don’t you?

Pre-course evaluation allows you to understand what works well and what doesn’t, enabling you to tweak your design until it really delivers. Again, this helps maximize the ROI, as you’ll end up spending less time developing and tinkering with your eLearning products.

During the course, you can get feedback not only from discussion forums, but also from the results of quizzes and exams. Collating your data will enable you to see, for example, if a course is too long or complicated, or whether a particular question leaves everyone stumped. If that’s the case, you’ll be able to understand what you need to modify and change in order to provide an eLearning experience that is effective and engaging.

Feedback in corporate eLearning: The gist

We cannot overstate the benefits of incorporating comprehensive feedback processes in your Learning and Talent Development Platform.  Your corporate learners receive ongoing evaluation that supports them while they learn, helps them understand the relevance of their course in real life, and allows them to engage with the content. In return, you get invaluable input that will help you refine and improve your eLearning offering, as well as help you better understand your employees’ learning needs.

Incorporate feedback as a key element when planning your course for truly engaging eLearning programs!

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