Improving Learning Automation with Feedback Loops

Without proper planning, feedback on learner progress often becomes lost in the transition to online learning. One benefit of instructor-led learning is the opportunity to correct mistakes and guide improvement. This loop of assessment and feedback is central to how we learn. With the advent of learning automation, online learning can also give feedback that improves scores and strengthens knowledge—just as much as face-to-face feedback.

Feedback starts with a standard

We’ve all heard “you can’t fix what you don’t know is broken.” In that spirit, giving feedback is about identifying and calling out opportunities for improvement. In a classroom setting, there are set means for giving feedback—they’re called grades. Grades on assessments like quizzes and tests of knowledge were how we learned when we’re younger, and they worked because the standards were explained beforehand. A paper published to The Higher Education Academy lays out three criteria for maximizing Learners’ benefit from feedback. Feedback should:

  1. Reference and describe the goal or standard being aimed for
  2. Compare the actual (or current) level of performance with that goal or standard
  3. Engage in appropriate action which leads to some closure of the gap

Without prior knowledge of the end goal, feedback and assessments won’t be as useful. You can’t expect employees to be experts on the sales process when you haven’t described every step. When building online learning, leaders must clearly state the standard or reference that Learners are working toward.

Feedback and assessments

The second condition for effective feedback is comparison to the goal or standard. Learners need to see exactly how they stack up against expectations in order to improve their efforts. The authors of How People Learn note that learning improves when “students learn to define learning goals and monitor their progress in achieving them.” Historically, this has been difficult for online Learners, but that has changed with learning automation.

Lessonly’s learning automation software provides assignments at regular intervals to help strengthen Learners’ depth of knowledge. Do you have a software stack that works together in a pretty particular way? Set that Lesson as a recurring assignment, sent to your Learners at a set cadence to refresh their minds on the subject. Weekly, monthly, or annually—a continuous cycle of fresh and recurring knowledge keeps employees sharp and makes them better at their jobs. And cultures of continuous learning like this are becoming more and more common as the return on investment of employee training continues to pay off in big ways.

Creating an effective feedback loop

Merely receiving a grade is described in a Review of Educational Research article as outcome feedback. Without context, outcome feedback doesn’t say much more than “this is what you got wrong.” More meaningful context can easily be added by providing feedback over time. Assigning a recurring Lesson that includes a graded quiz can show improvement and growth over time, or it can reveal areas of knowledge that need more work. These kinds of milestones help encourage Learners as they absorb new information and put it to use.

Repeating outcome feedback in this manner is just one part of a feedback loop. Armed with only their assessment scores, Learners can only improve so much. Remember the three conditions that must be met for maximizing feedback’s effectiveness? The third condition is to “engage in appropriate action which leads to some closure of the gap.” Leaders who take the time to explain tangible steps on how to improve and give tips on what to do better next time will see much more effectiveness from their feedback. However, feedback is a two-way street. If there are parts of assessments that every Learner is struggling on, the problem might lie with the test rather than the learners.

Start leveraging the power of learning automation for more effective employee learning. Take the free Lessonly tour and begin creating your own feedback loops. Sign up today.

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