Feedback: Here’s your score!

English: Measurement unit
English: Measurement unit (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I recently joined a MOOC on digital storytelling. I was up-front and honest about my experience and my reason for joining. I run a digital storytelling program and I wanted to see how another program might parallel, differ and/or otherwise inform me. There’s always room to learn.

As I engaged in the course, I felt good about participation and offering some thoughts and resources that others might find beneficial. I was excited and comfortable doing the first assignment and in retrospect, probably too excited and included information that more appropriately would fit into week 2: script development. Then…I waited. Part 2 of the assignment was to provide peer review of 3 other participants and then get feedback from 3 others. I was charged, ready to see the work of others, give feedback and to get feedback on my own work. But the design made me wait and the waiting began to disturb my flow. Finally, the day came to review others and I did that as thoughtfully as I could. I tried to provide positive support and make suggestions to help the development of their stories. One by one, I moved forward in a system that would not allow me to get feedback until all others had completed their work and the multi-day deadline had passed. Finally, the long awaited feedback came. Anticipating some thoughtful comments and advice, I was disappointed to get “grades”; numbers. Numbers that were a bit lower than I expected, but that’s OK. The disturbing part is that there was very little feedback and that it was anonymous. This made me rethink the value of peer-review, flow, anonymity and the inability to have a conversation about my work. This nameless, faceless, unconnected grading system left me clueless about how to improve my work. What’s worse, it killed my interest in the course. It became a bit of a canned process that ran on a schedule. However, all is not lost. It made me realize the value of open sharing and the possibility of instant or at least, very quick feedback. It made me realize the value of a personal connection to someone who actually cared about what they might say and how that might help me learn. It made me realize that through our open sharing, we might actually teach or learn from others and make new connections that might just change our way of thinking and in some cases, our lives.


  1. It sort of raises the question of the difference between connected learning and completed tasks. With no dialogue and real connections, learning probably can occur ... but would it feed our souls?

  2. It also goes to show that it is essential to offer expectations around feedback - peers should not have been able to give "grades" but rather quality feedback, like you did. Goes to show how assessment and feedback are viewed by a majority of folks.

  3. A thought proving experience, Bud. I think it demonstrates that feedback must be a conversation around the task, and with the demands on our time we need to use technology to facilitate this - not to create barriers as seems to have been the case here.

  4. Mark, I feel like the kettle calling the pot black. Please forgive my delayed reply to your comment. Just as I was frustrated, by lack of follow-up puts you in the same position. Blogging is have the task - commenting and replying are the next important components. I'm learning in public! Trying to figure out a personal routine.

    Thanks for your comment.