How to Use Feedback Loops to Improve Your Online Course

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How many times have you taught a course or program and realized halfway through that your students just weren’t getting what you were teaching?

Have you ever taken a course by someone else where you thought the material was either too advanced or not advanced enough for where you were at in your experience?

These are the most common symptoms of an online course or program not having a built in system for iteration based on the needs and desires of its audience.

It lacks one of the most powerful components of any type of learning – feedback loops.

What are feedback loops and how can you create them within your online course? Let’s examine how you can use feedback loops in your online course in a manner which allows you to iterate and make your course as successful as possible.

Get the bonus content: Feedback Loops Planning Worksheet

What’s a Feedback Loop?

The dictionary definition of a feedback loop is “the path by which some of the output of a circuit, system, or device is returned to the input.”

A feedback loop is a device or system created within your course which allows your students or audience to give you input on whether or not your content and information is resonating with them.

It lets you know if what you’re doing is working – and gives you that information fast so you can make changes easier.

With proper set of feedback loops in your online course you’ll be able to tell right away if your content is missing the mark or if you’re hitting bullseyes.

Why Are Feedback Loops Important?

I know you want to create an online course that’s effective for your students.

You want to impact their lives in such a way that they make meaningful progress and apply your knowledge directly to their own lives as easily as possible.

But without a feedback loop built into your course, there’s no way to know if your course content is truly making a difference and being absorbed by your students. In a traditional, hands-off online course, the student may not feel comfortable enough telling you when they don’t get something or when they don’t understand a concept.

They’ll get frustrated and stop learning or worse, tell their friends they had a bad experience.

Having a feedback loop built into your course allows you to iterate your course content based on the needs of your students and where they are in their current situation.

A feedback loop will save you time, money and frustration by being able to adjust your content and course direction as required.

How Can You Build Feedback Loops into Your Course?

The most effective feedback loops are ones which create direct interaction with your students. My favourite types of feedback loops are Facebook groups, live video calls and picking up the phone.

Facebook Groups

Since the majority of our learning online is done through a computer and software – a Facebook group is a natural extension for any online course.

95% of your audience will be active on Facebook on any given day and a feedback loop that gives a comfortable experience for a student, on a platform they’re already on, is a win for everyone involved

A Facebook group is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and is available for the student any time they need it.  Not only do your students get access at any time they need but you get access to it any time you need.

Live Video Calls

The best way to discover what your students are struggling with or what they’re excelling at is by talking to them directly.

Creating a live video call every week or at a certain interval within your online course will encourage getting feedback from your students on a more consistent and regular basis.

And when you’re getting feedback on a consistent basis, you’re able to adjust future and past content consistently, to the point where it’s not dependent on when you run your course .

Having consistent video live calls also gets your students more comfortable with coming to you when they’re having an issue with your content and what they do and do not understand.

Having students who are more likely to give you direct feedback means your course will get better every time you run it.

Picking up the Phone

I know this one’s a bit counterintuitive to the online course industry – where the idea of being able to sell and teach in a hands-off situation is prevalent.

But this will work exactly in your favour in this case. Because most course creators want to build online courses so they can keep hands off from their students, you’re reaching out and connecting via a phone call will be a shining light of differentiation from other courses in your industry.

By picking up the phone or starting an instant chat message, you have the chance to get direct feedback from your students in a one-on-one manner where they’re more excited about being able to give you direct feedback on your content and get help directly from you.

Using Feedback Loops will Drastically Change the Way You Deliver Courses

When you create your online course with one or two feedback loops built into it – the ability you have for iteration and change within your course content and direction is a huge game changer.

Imagine if after running your course the first rime you realize that your first module is too complex. Instead of re-creating the entire course or wondering where you missed the mark, you’re able to identify quickly what the culprit is and make changes to better serve your students.

How great would it be as a student, to get an email that says “Hey, I heard that some of you were having difficulty with the ideas in lesson 3 of module 2 so I re-recorded the videos and made it much simpler. Why not go check it out now?”

If I got this email I would be super grateful the course creator was active and listening to their students – and you bet your booty I would be heading back to lesson 3 of module 2 to check it out again!

But if you launch a course that you worked for months on and don’t get any feedback from your students, then you’ve spent all of this time and energy making something your students don’t want or isn’t applicable to their current situation.

By building in feedback loops you’ll be able to quickly recover from any missteps and constantly be making your course better for you and your students.

What sort of feedback loops have you built into your online course? Have you tried any of these and had them work for you? I’d love to hear your experience!

Get the bonus content: Feedback Loops Planning Worksheet

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