I was recently reading The Online Survival Guide by Boettcher and Conrad (pg. 173) about the rules of feedback for online learning. There seems to be some general rules, i.e. give feedback early and often, be prompt when you set a time frame for feedback and make sure the feedback is personal and formative. Leaving the academic aspects about feedback aside I began to realize that the emotional part of feedback reminds me a lot of a discipline program called Love and Logic. http://www.loveandlogic.com/ . Almost every principal I’ve worked for has required training or reading created by the Love and Logic program for classroom management and discipline. Love and Logic has many great techniques. One technique that has worked well for me in the classroom (and at home) is that of acknowledging the child. Every child wants to be seen. Some will behave in negative ways for attention and some will act like angels in the hopes to get noticed. But once a child is acknowledged in some way, not even necessarily in a positive or negative way, that child becomes more engaged, helpful, and more comfortable in the environment. I don’t need to praise or admonish but simply state that I recognize a student’s presence. Sometimes I would simply say to a student, “I see you got new shoes” or “I saw that you put the pencils away” and suddenly I saw that child have much more positive energy.
Applying this acknowledgment technique to online learning seems very similar to classroom management. Even I, as a graduate student, want to be seen and acknowledged with the work I am doing online. There is something exciting and satisfying about knowing my thoughts have been read and processed. Both peer and instructor feedback creates a desire to do a better job. When designing online courses for my elementary students I will remember just how important this acknowledgement will be to keep children motivated and on task. Children could easily feel disconnected to others and their work while working online. Peer and instructor feedback is crucial for successful learning. This feedback could occur in discussion groups, online evaluations, badges, or with traditional grades. Hopefully recognition in the online world will do it’s magic.