Engaging the LearnerInstructional Design

Instructive feedback enhances e-learning for manufacturers

Increase the effectiveness of your course through instructive feedback

If you’ve played the guessing game, I Spy, then you realize how important good feedback is. The rules of the game limit feedback to your questions as “yes” or “no”. Although that may be the game’s charm, structuring feedback throughout a lesson similarly undermines its integrity. Many courses, however, rely on similar response tactics when learners answer a question or complete an activity. The added risk is that when a learner guesses correctly, they may not understand why the answer is correct. Which begs the question; do you want a learner guessing how to apply a skill or information once back on the job?

Ensure that your learners are maximizing their eLearning experience by intentionally including quality feedback as an integral part of you lesson. Here’s how…

Design feedback that is instructive. It helps to anticipate what feedback may be needed to help a learner successfully complete the lesson. It is often more instructive when you explain why a response is correct or incorrect and with a focus on techniques or problem-solving processes. The role of feedback is to help ensure that an individual returns to the job recognizing how to apply what was learned.

Build time into your project plan to design feedback. Quality feedback does NOT require new content – it should be drawn from the lesson’s content. It is often only a matter of consciously setting aside time for writing explanations as to why an answer is correct or not. Depending on the types of instructional interactions designed into a lesson, I have found that the creation of instructive feedback usually only increases the writing phase of your project by around 5%.

Know your authoring tool. I sometimes find organizations are not aware of the range of interactions that can be built using related templates or features within their authoring tool. They miss opportunities to construct more engaging lessons that challenge people to apply what’s being taught and to present effective feedback that reinforces what is being learned. A template can serve as a checklist, drawing attention to what’s needed for an interaction to be effective and how to present feedback that is instructive.

You don’t need to explain why the response to every question or activity is correct or not. For example, if a learner only needs to pick the correct switch that will secure a device from a display of switches, then a simple ‘correct’ or ‘incorrect’ is probably sufficient. If, however, the wrong choice could lead to a hazardous situation, then greater guidance is necessary for both a correct or incorrect response.

A wrong answer doesn’t have to mean failure – it can be part of the e-learning experience challenging the learner to do better via guidance offered through feedback. All learners can benefit from instructive feedback.

Ron Trilling
Author of Learning Lines | Founder and Partner, at Media Dynamics
Ron is a great source of information when it comes to eLearning. He has a background in instructional design and has worked with many companies to help develop their eLearning content and courses.
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