Online Learning

Online Learning Needs Feedback, too!

“Ok everyone, please log in to your Timex™ computers.”


Back in the 1984, my first computer was a Timex (I was in 3rd grade).

We hooked it up to a 13in black and white TV. I was excited to start computing. My schema of computing consisted of sci-fi shows I watched and visits to Boston’s Museum of Science. I was ready to go boldly into the world of computer science.

I turned it on and waited (back then, it took awhile for the cathode tubes to warm up and display the screen). Finally, the cursor came to life a it blinked on and off.

I typed my name and hit enter. The feedback the computer gave me was, “error.”

I was an error.


Computers have come a long way since 1984. Back then, roughly 8% of all Americans had a computer. In 2015, the US Census reported that 79% of Americans have a personal computer. That number increased by 8% the following year.

In addition to the rise of computers and personal devices (i.e., smart phones), internet access has skyrocketed. In 2016, the Washington Post reported that close to 50% of the world’s population has access to the internet; today, around 90% of Americans use the internet, according to a recent Pew study.

The internet has created opportunities in every sector, including education. Of the 56 million students in the US in grades K-12, it is estimated that 2.7 will take at least 1 online course this year. In higher ed, close to 33% of students will take an online class this year. Furthermore, over 70% of US schools provide mobile technology (e.g., Chromebooks, laptops, tablets).

Using technology in the classroom is more commonplace than ever, especially when it comes to learning. For example, a US Dept of Education study done in 2009 showed that 96% of teachers had their students using some form of technology to produce work.


Technology provides tools in every educational setting, especially as online learning grows. With that comes the challenge of direct face time with teachers, who are a crucial part of the learners’ growth, especially regarding feedback. Learning requires effective feedback and is the most effective classroom teaching practice. Feedback is “an essential element in enhancing further learning.” From Vygotsky’s study in 1978 to Havnes in 2012, teacher-student and student-student feedback creates individualized and personalized learning that allows the learner to hone his/her skills and reflect. The feedback process requires both a dialogue or “responsive pedagogy” between the parties and be individualized for the recipient to be effective.  

In an actual classroom, this can be done as the teacher and student have facetime. No teacher is going to underline a student’s name and write “error.”


But, what about in the online world? Sometimes, I still have my name identified as an error (this time, with a digital red line). How can effective feedback be provided when learning is taking place outside of the traditional classroom in both space and time?

Kaizena provides a solution. It is a Google Add-On that allows for authentic feedback for students to grow and learn. Kaizena  allows teachers to individualize the feedback based on (a) modality and (b) proficiency. For example, a teacher can leave either a voice or text comment (and soon video) and connect readily available lessons (short explainer videos for common errors) to further the student’s understanding. Furthermore, students can respond to the teacher in the same or different modality. The conversation is captured. The learning can be discerned.

With regard to proficiency, teachers can create rubrics using Kaizena’s preloaded bank of criteria or objectives for a wide range of student work (syntax, punctuation, and style). Teachers can create their own objectives to use for feedback (e.g., math computations, balancing chemical equations, foreign language).  Teachers can rate evidence of objectives and rate it so that both they and their students have a clear understanding.

This video demonstrate Kaizena’s feedback capabilities:

For the online learner, effective feedback from teachers (and peers) is critical for learning. Kaizena is the ideal tool to provide teachers the opportunity to give authentic feedback.

Come check it out for yourself. I promise your name won’t be an error.

Ariel Margolis
Ariel has designed innovative instructional and e-learning curricula for more than twenty years. He is Director of Student Support Services and Adjunct Lecturer in special education at Hebrew College.
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Try Kaizena for Yourself

Review up to 75% faster than typing with Voice Comments. Embed explainer videos in three clicks. Track Skills and we'll auto-complete your rubric. Welcome to the future of feedback.