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Observing your students better online

Think about the feedback you get when you are in a face-to-face training room.

There’s lots of sensory data coming in: the overheard uncertainties during the coffee break, the slightly furrowed brow in a what-if segment, the silence from the group when you ask a particular question, or the focus of the clarifying questions they ask you…

Now move your thoughts to an online environment. How do you adapt?


In an online environment you’ve still got direct conversation in conferences where you can pick up on these things. But what about the quiet introvert who sits metaphorically at the back of the class and says very little.


Here’s an idea. Imagine your (remote) students are completing the Well-Formed Outcome piece in Goal Setting. To check out how well they have executed the process for themselves you set them an assignment to document their own WFO…but on Video. The thinking works like this. If they can convincingly explain their work to the camera without reading from notes, not only have they really done it thoroughly but they also have it in the muscle. To make this happen you create a mandatory assignment on the LMS as part of your course. Here’s a screen dump of an assignment that took 2 minutes to create and load, to show you what we mean.

The student doesn’t need any fancy equipment – all they need is a device with a selfie camera and microphone, and they are good to go. When they click on the Record Video button, all they need to do is speak their answer with a fully convincing face on. They’ll have all the usual record-pause-discard-submit controls, and when they are happy they click submit to make it available to you, their instructor, to review on the system.

Now you have some sensory data to work with. Your sensory acuity can do its thing. Can you spot any misunderstandings of the material? Do you need to send them a response with extra information, there and then? Does this need a coaching one-on-one?


From the student’s perspective, it’s simple and quick. They can focus on their response instead of carrying the burden of using multiple platforms and lots of typing – and so can you.

It’s a win – win.