Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Building Effective Interactivity: The Critical Importance and Nature of Feedback

As human beings, we rely upon our senses to gather "big data" from the world around us. One of the marvels of the human condition is that when we are deprived of one or more senses, the other senses compensate by becoming even more in tune to the "big data" being received from the environment. For example, when a person is deprived of his or her sight for even a short time, he or she reports greater sensitivity and discrimination to sound, often picking up sounds that in the past may have been ignored. Davan Hiskey in an article titled:" Humans Have Alot More Than 5 Senses"(Nov. 2015) illustrates the idea that when it comes to the collection of "big data", the human brain beats artificial means handily.


Just as businesses are discovering ways to collect "big data" as a means of getting a more precise picture of something of interest in their particular environment over time, the human mind seeks constant ongoing feedback so that it may use the data to make decisions.

The Importance of Feedback to Effective Interactivity

When we consider the design of effective interactivity within learning experiences, we have to look at it on two different levels:

  1. Ongoing feedback while engaged in a collaborative learning experience
  2. Ongoing feedback in the form of "assessment for learning". 
Consider the situation of a collaborative learning activity within an immersive E-Learning environment. From a sensory point of view within such an environment, "equilibrioception" or the sense that allows you to keep your balance and sense body movement in terms of acceleration and directional change is something that is in the process of becoming more and more important as we seek to harness such VR technologies such as the MicroSoft Hololens , Samsung Gear VR or the Oculus Rift VR headset. A common problem that each of the companies are working on is how to eliminate problems associated with equilibrioception. Anyone who has used the Oculus Rift VR Headset for any extended length of time knows how it is difficult to adjust their balance because of the mix of incoming data that has both real and virtual streams. The same problem exists for users of augmented technology.

From a cognitive point of view, immediate and ongoing feedback is extremely important especially when the learning experience is in the form of a simulation or an immersive real world problem solving scenario. Decisions that result in actions being taken have consequences for how the simulation or problem scenario develops. Immediate feedback to the learner at each stage defines what decisions and actions the collaborative group will make. This process when given free reign should plant the seeds for innovative solutions.

For the learning culture of a business organization, feedback in the form of "assessment for learning" becomes an important consideration because it is tied to the acquiring of important skillsets that are valued by the business and also to a growth in performance effectiveness of employees.If a learning experience allows employees to make mistakes in a non-threatening, supportive environment then true "learning from you mistakes" will develop and efficiency will improve. The "big data" that is collected helps employees grow in their own learning development within the organization.

"Assessment should not be a one time event that happens at the end of a set of learning experiences. It should be ongoing throughout the learning experience so that it can be used to make more and more effective decisions. Effective feedback is feedback that is personally meaningful to the learner!"

If we wish to consider the importance of feedback, then consider how much data is received from even something as simple as drops of rain.

Credit: Daven Hiskey(2015)

Where is your learning culture in terms of effective use of feedback? Are you still relying on uni-dimensional polls and surveys alone?

Next---Not All technology is useful for educational purposes

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