Feedback formats for online and blended learning environments

Feedback Formats for Online and Blended Learning Environments

One pitfall to avoid in designing assessment is the over-emphasis of one feedback format. Traditionally, we think about feedback as the comments that instructors add to work that has been submitted (do you still have that red pen?) There is so much more that can be done in an online environment!

The Process

Whether feedback is being provided by the instructor, fellow students, or an external body, this is an opportunity to encourage learners, steer them in the right direction, and add a personalized, human element to the online or blended learning experience. Remember:

Regardless of delivery, the purpose of assessment is to provide students with opportunities to demonstrate their learning, and provides them with feedback on their progress. Well-designed and implemented assessment can also build confidence, community and engagement.

Some ideas for mixing up feedback formats:

Text Comments:

This common form of feedback is still effective, but look for some variety in the online environment. Try adding hyperlinks to videos or reference guides, or even links back to pages in your LMS course.


Many discussion boards have a ‘like’ function, similar to chats on social media platforms. This is a quick way to show that you are monitoring discussion boards and highlighting some of what you see.


Try using your phone to record an audio clip and then post this as a response to a discussion board or an assignment.


Try making a short informal screen capture or video as feedback. The trick here is scale and expectation – it doesn’t need to be a professional quality video, and you can make one video that is sent to a group of students. Keep these short (1-3 mins) when you can.


A well-designed rubric provides feedback to students simply by selecting the category that best describes the student work submitted. This is one way to spend time ahead of the course to communicate clearly and provide efficient individualized feedback.

Automated Feedback Messages:

May have the option to provide feedback to students based on their answers to quiz questions that can be programmed in advance.


It can be time consuming to reach out to students individually, but sometimes it is necessary. Your LMS may also have features that allow you to send messages to groups of students based on their activities in the course (submission of assignments, participation stats, etc). Explore your LMS for these time-saving features.

Phone Calls and Web Meetings:

Sometimes, it’s just nice to TALK. Don’t be afraid to reach out to your students via phone or set up a web meeting with individuals or groups of students to discuss progress and provide feedback.


Your LMS has an announcement feature that can be used for communicating course information, but you can also use it to provide whole-class feedback on your general impression of their progress and next steps.


Images and Emojis:

Depending on the subject matter and tone of the learning environment, try adding an element of fun by posting images for feedback. Even grown-ups like happy faces once in a while.

Joelle Reynolds

Joelle Reynolds

Learning Experience Designer

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