Feedback Matters! Evaluation in the Virtual Classroom

Written by Jennifer Balcom, Senior Consultant, Explorance.

In the live classroom, there is ample opportunity for feedback and assessment. If it’s a technical class, students demonstrate their skills in the lab or the software. For soft skills training, in the classroom, you’ll see scenario-based role-plays or simulations. And no matter what the content, evaluation for both the session and the follow up on application informs your measurement plan to gauge session effectiveness and outcomes.

The same approach still works for the virtual classroom – with just a few adjustments for your online environment.

Demonstrate and evaluate

The classroom environment provides a safe space for students to try the skills that they’re learning, receive feedback, and then evaluate their progress. And in changing behavior and adopting new skills, that practice and reinforcement set students up for success when they apply what they learned back on the job.

In the live classroom, the interactivity can range from discussions and role-plays to demonstrations with software tools or technology. When you’re in the virtual classroom, these same skills demonstrations are possible with just a few changes to your approach:

  • Class discussions can be done in small groups in break out rooms, and then each group spokesperson reports back to the class. Or for a whole class discussion, while chat is good, you could also manage the speaking queue by having the students add their name to a list on the screen with the annotation tool to “get in line.”
  • Role-play scenarios can be done in class in break out rooms and then have a volunteer group demonstrate for the course. Or consider having them try the role-play between classes and record the session to send to you for instructor feedback.
  • System or technical skills can be done through screen sharing or in break-out groups. Another option is to build simulations or virtual reality for practice. You can also assess technical skills application between sessions where students record a video for instructor feedback.

And remember from blog 1, class size matters! So, keep your session size to no more than 12 to 15 students to maximize the interactivity.

Keep connected to “check-in” between sessions

If your interactive content is longer than 2 hours, then, as mentioned in blog 1, you’re probably going to have a series of interactive sessions for your students to attend. That allows you to engage students between sessions and ensure that they are retaining what they’re learned. Our second blog post provided some ideas about content instructors can share between sessions.

In addition to sharing content, use the opportunity to get feedback on the sessions or the students’ progress. With an engagement network app like Bluepulse, you can easily send your students a question and get confidential feedback on items such as:

  • I learned new knowledge or skills in the virtual class session.
  • I’ll be able to apply what I learned in the virtual class session.
  • Do you feel comfortable participating in the virtual classroom?
  • Are there any additional resources you need to be successful in the virtual classroom?
  • How would you improve the virtual class sessions?

The feedback is given in “real-time” and will allow you to adjust the delivery of your virtual class to meet the needs of your students better. And if you get the feedback after every session, you can adapt immediately instead of waiting for the end of course feedback.

Gather post-session feedback

End of course evaluation is key to getting the feedback you need for continual improvement. If you’ve adjusted a live class to be delivered virtual and have post-event evaluation information on that class, then you have the opportunity to compare the student experience in both sessions. If you haven’t done so already, then take advantage of the opportunity to begin and gather feedback from learners after the session is completed.

For a consistent comparison, use the same post-event survey questions for the virtual sessions as you would for the live classroom, except adjust the “environment” questions. Metrics that Matter Smart Sheets address both the live class and the virtual classroom with their standard survey questions

For example, your live classroom evaluation question might be:

  • The classroom environment was appropriate for learning.
  • The venue was conducive to learning.

However, adjust your questions for the virtual classroom:

  • The technology worked appropriately.
  • The online delivery had the right level of interaction and involvement.
  • This delivery method was an effective way for me to learn the material.

While you’re in the virtual session, you can easily deliver the survey to the students in the class – chat them a survey link to the online questionnaire or take advantage of the Metrics that Matter QR code and display that on the screen to scan via a mobile phone.

Reconsider your measurement plan

Your virtual classroom sessions are your “new normal” and your measurement plan should reflect this change. First, if your instructors are new to the virtual classroom, be sure to provide them the immediate feedback from the students. Also, consider sending them a feedback survey for each session so that you can measure and monitor their experience as instructors. And as time goes on, look to your month to month data to see what trends emerge. This will help you answer questions such as:

  • How effective is my virtual delivery?
  • How does my virtual delivery compare to live delivery?
  • What do we need to do to improve learning effectiveness?

Metrics that Matter has reports and dashboards that will help you gauge this quickly. You can compare classes over time, or you can look at the overall aggregate data. In addition to data, be sure to review your comment sentiments for verbatim comments to help tell the learning effectiveness story fully.

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