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Importance of Feedback to Succeed Online Learning

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 for online students’ interaction with instructors and classmates is extremely needed to support their learning experience. Another study reveals the learner-instructor and learner-learner interactions as key factors in high-quality online programs. By sharing intensive feedback, students become engaged in the learning process, and their loneliness or feeling isolated will diminish. 

Feedback also enhances students’ learning achievement. Feedback provides learners access to information about their performance. Feedback can be an expression of appreciation or encouragement, like “Well done!” or “Good job”. Some feedback provides tips on how to do something, how to access reading material, and how to best write certain things. Some other feedback asks for clarification or shows mistakes and suggestions to correct them. Receiving feedback, therefore, helps students recognize mistakes and eventually develop strategies for tackling their weak points. Feedback also let students know whether they actually have mastered the material or not. Feedback is an invaluable element to increase online learning achievement. Recent research shows immediate feedback has a positive impact on student achievement. Knowing that they make better achievements, they will have a greater level of engagement and motivation. 

Students in online learning also get another invaluable advantage through giving and receiving feedback, i.e. increase of the 4Cs—the learning and innovation skills that are highly needed in the 21st century. The absence of direct physical interaction in online learning requires students to communicate effectively and clearly, anytime they share feedback. To make their ideas conveyed well, whether they are communicating through audio, video, and texts written in the discussion forum of the class, they should try to make their expression clear and succinct. It could be actualized by using appropriate dictions, grammatical sentences, appropriate punctuation marks, etc. Thus, while giving or receiving feedback, students also develop their communication skills. 

It is naturally true that the cut and thrust into online learning environments make students miss the face to face classroom discussion. However, it does not mean that students cannot collaborate—to work together to achieve a common goal. Online forums available in online learning even increases the opportunity to collaborate at anytime and anywhere. Students now can share feedback not from their instructor and peers but also experts, and other individuals from all over the world. This, therefore, can increase cultural diversity. What is more, by using the asynchronous forum, feedback could be shared anytime and anywhere. Online feedback opens a wider door for collaboration. 

Anytime students are going to give feedback, they need to think deeply or even research so that the feedback is relevant and can expand or give a better understanding of the point they are responding to. For instance, a student who suggests something to improve his friend's work should have made a preliminary analysis, assessment, research, and reconstruction. Without this, his feedback will not be meaningful and useful. In this case, he has entered into the teaching phase of learning, and the best indicator of one’s mastery of a topic is when he can teach others about it. 

Conversely, a student who receives feedback from others will be able to analyze his own weakness and is able to correct it. The possibility to share feedback asynchronously enables students to have extra time to think. This enables them to think reflectively. In short, by sharing feedback that requires students to analyze, research, and assess information to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of their idea or work, they are thinking critically. And since thinking is like a muscle, the more students practice it the stronger their critical thinking will be. 

Giving and receiving feedback also hone creativity. When someone is going to give feedback to other people's ideas, he should first try to see from the viewpoint of the owner of the idea. On the other hand, a person receiving feedback from others should also try to see from the givers' point of view. The ability to understand other people's point of view is certainly an effective way to develop creativity. In addition, when a student develops his ideas or works based on someone’s feedback, he is combining the idea or work he has got with new elements obtained from the feedback to create a different or new idea or work. It is creativity, right? What is more, since feedback is also shared among students (peer feedback), by giving and receiving it, students help each other increase their learning mastery. 

Which is more effective for a student, teacher's feedback or peer feedback? Since the objective of receiving feedback is not merely to get suggestions for correcting something but also as a process to develop the 4Cs by evaluating a statement, questioning a conclusion, detecting the weaknesses and the strengths of an idea, peer feedback is often more effective. A teacher's feedback tends to be accepted by students without any question because a teacher is considered an 'expert'. A Teacher's feedback usually ends a discussion. Thus, peer feedback is more advantageous to use during the learning process and let the teacher comment only if the discussion is 'overheated' or deviates from the topic.

To conclude, amidst the COVID 19 outbreak, online learning is the best alternative to keep learning going on. To optimize online learning, commitment to deal with feedback is important. Feedback does not only diminish students’ loneliness, difficulty to focus, and trouble to engage. It also enhances learning achievement and promotes the 4Cs. Thus, if so far you cannot yet effectively learn through web-based learning, enhance your commitment to give and receive feedback. It will make a difference!

Is there any point in this article you can use to boost your online learning? Do you have some other ideas to increase online learning achievement? We’d like to hear from you. Please write your experiences or views in the comments section below.  

Author: Parlindungan Pardede (


  1. I totally agree with this article, feedback is the most important for people who want to become a successful in learning. I can see in our online learning my friends and I always give the feedback to each other. It is proven that feedback from our friends can change our assignment become good than before. But , we can't avoid that some students still get difficult to receive the feedback from their friends or their lectures through online learning. In this case the feedback given by their friends in written form quite difficult for them to understand, moreover they used English.
    They'll choose to meet in person, or used the alternative one is used audio call , video call to get the meaning.
    But, I think if their friends or lectures give them feedback used their mother tongue through written form I think it still fine.
    This is just my opinion , maybe it's depend from them person .

    1. You are correct, Edel. Feedback could be provided in written form or orally through phone or video call. They have their own advantages and disadvantages. Feedback through video calls might be easier because students can directly communicate with the help body language. However, written feedback is asynchronous so that students can take and respond to it in 24 hours per day.
      Using mother tongue to provide feedback will certainly make it easier to catch the messages. However, if students are learning English, feedback in English is much more advantageous because it does not only provide messages but also develops new vocabularies, thinking skills, and writing skills in the target language they are learning.

  2. Yeah, I agree. Feedback is one of the best ways used in the learning process, whether it's traditional or online class. The only difference is the interaction that is not face to face. Indeed, nowadays some complain about the applied online class because they feel adversity and feel inadequate learning.
    But from this article I found that the key to a high-quality online class success is the feedback provided by each student. It shows the successful students in learning are feedback. It's just, I think some people are scared enough to give the feedback because they feel their feedback is useless, and I think it's happening in my online class. And of course this kind of thinking needs to be evaluated.

    1. Woow... what a good observation, Nurmauli. Thanks for commenting. I learned a new important point of online learning from it.
      Some people complained of the implementation of online class because: (1) they feel it hard and (2) they found themselves learned inadequately in online learning. The first reason is relative, because most students today are tech-savvy. They can use ICT even better than most professors. So their problems are not related to the technology, but to the learning, i.e. willingness to meet new challenges, readiness to take risks, and commitment to employ their thinking skills, time and energy to get new experiences that develop their knowledge, skills, 4Cs, and attitudes. Both traditional (F2F) and online learning are essentially difficult for those who are not ready to learn.
      The second reason, they found themselves learned inadequately in online learning is caused by their misconception of learning. The probably still think that learning is "receiving information from teachers". This is the old teacher-centered paradigm, and it failed to help students become educated. True learning is student-centered. Teachers merely facilitate. Everything depends on the student. If students implement student-centered learning, he can learn without limit. Only students belong to the 19th or 20th century who said online learning through online classroom is inadequate.

  3. Yeah, I agree with your opinion Sir that students' feedback are more advantageous than teachers' feedback cause we tend to just accept the teachers' feedback cause we consider that teachers are already expert, diferent from peer feedback which is more communicative cause we tend to maintain our own opinion which is good to enhance our 4C skills. And I myself have to admit that I'm actually pay attention more carefully to check my spelling, grammar, and punctuation. Also try to make my comment more like important to consider before giving a feedback to my friends. And, yeah, giving and receiving feedback is very useful for both the giver and the receiver for their improvement.

    1. Thanks for supporting the ideas in this article, Candeni. Glad to know you got an insight from it. Do you know this feedback of yours also teaches me something?
      Thanks again.

  4. That’s right sir, In this situation I agree with your opinion about online learning is the best alternative to keep learning going on. To optimize online learning, commitment to deal with feedback is important. Feedback also enhances students’ learning achievement. Feedback provides learners access to information about their performance. Feedback can be an expression of appreciation or encouragement. Based on my experience when I joined with online class or discussion we have any mistake because of signal. The bad signal disturbed our discussion and it made other people (friends) cannot hear the presenter said so that not much gave a feedback. I mean, face to face class is very better if we are not in this situation. Because in face to face class I am found 4Cs (communication, collaboration, critical

  5. Thank you Mr. for this good article. I totally agree with all of your own about feedback in online learning. In traditional classroom or face to face is absolutely we always have the feedback, but in online learning is rarely not feedback. But, you said "Feedback also enhances students’ learning achievement. Feedback provides learners access to information about their performance. Feedback can be an expression of appreciation or encouragement, like “Well done!” or “Good job”." I agree for that. Feedback for me, is a measure of one's abilities. We know how far away a person is capable. A good feedback will enhance the understanding of material, even they will be motivated to increase learning. Feedback is important for us as a teacher to inspire learners.

  6. Yeah, I strongly agree with this article. Feedback is the best way to succesful in learning. In this article, I found out the sentence that said " Receiving feedback helps students recognize mistakes and eventually develop strategies for tackling their weak points". I think, the above statement is true. Our assigments will be better when we receive feedback from friends or lecturer. For example: In our online class, I always receive feedback from friends like the use of grammar, punctuation, and spelling in my essay writing. The feedback that I received is very helped me in essay writing and make it become better than before.

  7. Thank you Sir for this article. Current feedback is very necessary for us students because if we have difficulty in doing the assignments we can ask our friends. Feedback when studying online some students have difficulty understanding certain subjects but in this feedback we can find out the size of our ability to understand a material.

  8. I agree with this article that feedback is the best way to learn effectively and that feedback has many benefits. In the article I found the phrase "Receiving feedback helps students recognize mistakes and finally develop strategies to overcome their weaknesses". This statement is true. Based on my experience in online learning, feedback from friends or lecturers really helped me to get to know my mistakes and become better afterwards.However, there are some students who prefer to receive feedback from teachers because they feel it is certain and true than feedback from friends.

  9. Thank you for this article sir. Before that, i disagree with the online learning, but when i read this article, i change my mind. I agree with this article. Amid this Covid-19 pandemic, i taught to be an independent student. Through online learning, i can improve my language skills, especially for writing. In online learning too, we can give feedback for many students to study together even if via online. Like when we have a face two face class, but in different way.

  10. I agree with this article that feedback is the best way to learn effectively and that feedback has many benefits. With the feedback makes students who are confused about the material will understand little by little, because with the feedback means that there is interaction that can make students with students and students and lecturers understand each other. Based on my experience in online learning, feedback from friends or lecturers really helped me to find out my mistakes and get better after that. However, there are some students who prefer to receive feedback from the teacher because they feel it is certain and true rather than feedback from friends.

  11. I strongly agree with this article. Feedback is very importance to succeed Online Learning because, through feedback we can exchange ideas with friends, give some advice, and we can be active students. From this article I get the information that peer feedback is more advantageous to use during the learning process and let the teacher comment only if the discussion is 'overheated' or deviates from the topic. So be an active students by providing feedback.


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