Importance of Feedback to Succeed Online Learning

Parlindungan Pardede

Universitas kristen Indonesia

To optimize online learning, commitment to exchange feedback is important. It does not only diminish students’ loneliness, difficulty to concentrate, and trouble to engage but also enhances learning achievement and promotes the 4Cs.

As part of the effort to contain the spread of the coronavirus, schools across the world at all levels of education have been closed. Consequently, by April 30, 2020, more than 1.2 billion students in 182 countries were affected.  To enable students to keep learning from home, distance learning is implemented in which online learning is the most dominant chosen alternative. Online learning is basically not new. Since its emergence in the late 1980s, the number of students taking online courses keeps rising. In 2018, more than a quarter of all college students in the US took an online class. Online learning had also been common in various classes in universities worldwide before the coronavirus outbreak.

The sudden switch to online learning, however, makes many courses seem like a forced product, even a product of panic. Being not well-planned, they are merely a traditional class moved to the digital environment. Consequently, many students, particularly those who take online learning for the first time, find it hard to follow. Many of them even find it even more stressful than traditional classrooms. A student at Lafayette College found it hard to stay focused on her newly online classes. According to some students in Indonesia, a traditional classroom may have been tough, but it is so much more manageable and less stressful because classmates are there to interact with. The benefits of having friends, however, are taken out in online learning. Some students in a US university also experienced the same as shown by their responses to the online learning implementation, “I felt distracted.” “I didn’t like it.” “It was hard to engage.” “I didn’t get as much out of it.” Kolodner states, “For many students, the switch from the classroom to studying at home is mostly a disorienting inconvenience. They miss their friends, their freedom, and learning from a human being instead of a screen…”

We do not know yet when the coronavirus pandemic will end. Indonesian Ministry of Education and Culture plans schools will reopen in mid-July 2020. To use keep on learning effectively during the stay at home, online learning should be optimized. One of the best ways is to increase online feedback, i.e. a process in which students make sense of information about their performance and use it to enhance the quality of their work or learning strategies. Commitment to exchange feedback is very effective to avoid students’ difficulty to focus, loneliness due to having no friends around, and trouble to engage. 

A student can receive feedback from the teacher or other students (peer feedback). In online learning, feedback could be delivered through audios, videos, or texts. Feedback can also be shared synchronously (e.g. through videoconferencing) or asynchronously by writing on the discussion forum available in a learning management system. Exchanging feedback does not only create interaction and engagement (and thus avoid loneliness) but also enhance learning achievement, promote the 4Cs (communication, collaboration, critical thinking, and creativity). 

How does feedback create interaction? In a traditional classroom, students have immediate interpersonal communication through verbal and nonverbal interaction with their teacher and friends. These elements could not be found in an online learning environment but should be replaced with online interactions that can be conducted through texts, audio, or video, and the most frequent online interaction is carried out to share feedback. Recent research shows that …

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