What does effective feedback look like?

Online Learning can be an amazing experience. With the multiple virtual classrooms available, it is possible to produce a powerful, collaborative space, that leads to effective learning.

As a tutor, you must start with a clear and precise objective. The student should know at the beginning of the session what they are going to learn from this session. With a clear view of the end outcome, student and tutor can collaborate to reach their goals.

The student will feel most supported if the tutor joins in and produces an answer too. This then allows for peer assessment and a powerful discussion of how to improve further. It is this mentality of producing an answer not once but multiple times that opens the door to continuous learning.

This supportive way of learning removes the hierarchy and allows the student to take risks. They become prepared to keep trying and realise the power of a first, second and sometimes third draft.

The interactive whiteboard opens the opportunity to edit our written answers. We feel less emotionally invested than when we use pen and paper; to change parts of a response, we have traditionally crossed something out, making this error visible and meaning that work can become messy.

Students may then feel a need to start again, leading to wasting time, copying out the acceptable parts and re-writing the unacceptable parts. This approach slows the pace of progress and may thwart the enthusiasm of the student.

Students are much more open and flexible when it comes to making improvements to work when they can produce a piece of work in real time in an interactive lesson. It is at this point that the power of feedback is evident, and levels of progress can soar. Students may make simple edits like correcting capital letters, but this is the opportunity for the tutor to allow the student to reflect, then next time the student will be more focused on this skill.

Feedback is at its most powerful when the student is ready to hear it and if the tuition is carried out from a place of mutual respect and trust, then learning is positive and progressive.