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What Is Feedback and Why Is It Important?

Top performers, whether they are individuals or companies, have something in common: they use feedback to continuously improve their performance.

Feedback is a reaction or information that occurs as a result of actions or behavior undertaken by an individual or group. In a Learning & Development context, both positive and negative feedback is crucial. Feedback provides a sense of engagement and interactivity, and allows learners to take ownership of their learning. Effective feedback shows learners their current level of performance, and lets them know what they need to do to reach a higher level.

For many organizations, eLearning can harness the power of feedback to improve the performance of all your people. Let’s find out how.

What Opportunities Does eLearning Provide for Feedback?

eLearning offers a range of opportunities to give feedback to the learner. On a basic level, questions inserted into the learning can act as a ‘knowledge check’, with the feedback offered reinforcing learning points covered in the content so far.

Alternatively, questions can be asked before new information is introduced. This enables learners to think critically about a learning point and ‘discover’ the correct answer using their own common sense and existing knowledge. The feedback then expands on the learning point, once interest has been firmly established. Be sure to make it clear to the learner that they will not be penalized for incorrect answers.

Assessment topics, featuring a number of questions, can offer opportunities for feedback in a number of ways. Used as ‘end of learning’ tests, assessments can measure the learner’s retention of the learning, and direct them to specific areas of the learning which they may need to repeat.

Alternatively, used as a diagnostic tool, these topics can pre-test the existing knowledge of the learner, then cater the content they need to access based on their performance.

What Makes Good Feedback?

Feedback will be more effective if it fulfills one or more of the following criteria:

Links back to the goals and objectives of the learning

It’s a good idea to be explicit about what the learners will get from completing a course early on, ideally within the introductory section of the learning. This not only helps establish the value of the course, but also allows feedback throughout to be linked back in a consistent way, illustrating how each discrete part of the learning is useful, in relation to the overall aims and objectives.

Makes it clear how the knowledge will transfer to the learner’s day-to-day life and role

Learning is always more powerful if you can make it clear what might happen as a result of the learner adopting or not adopting the target behavior or knowledge. Using examples is an excellent way to do this, as it allows the learner to imagine the real-world implications.

LEO Learning often takes this a step further with branching eLearning. In an interactive video created for VSG for instance, learners view video scenarios in which they follow an employee throughout their day at work. At various points, the learner is given the opportunity to make decisions, and the video shows the consequences of these decisions in a memorable and powerful way.

Focuses on actions and behaviors that the learner has power over

The content of feedback must be appropriate to the level of autonomy the learner has in their role. The actions that an entry-level employee will be able to take will differ dramatically from those taken by a high-level decision maker or executive. The feedback should reflect this difference effectively. This does not, however, mean that a piece of learning content must be created for one group or the other: we often use role filtering to display the correct appropriate content to different groups within a single audience.

Encourages social sharing and collaborative learning

Where possible, include follow-up tasks which learners can complete with their peers and managers at work, and enable sharing via social media platforms.

What Can Feedback Do for Your Business?

Feedback increases engagement and ownership of learning, and enables continuous improvement. When done effectively, eLearning provides multiple opportunities for feedback that is varied, rich and useful.

Who are the top performers in your company? Chances are, they have become top performers precisely because they consistently seek to understand the strengths and weaknesses in their own performance, and work to make their best even better.

Want to know more? Read our ebook 'How to Create Digital Learning That Works'. Download it today!

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