Best Practices To Collect Feedback For Your Online Course

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Boost Your Course Engagement With Useful Feedback

Feedback helps create high-quality and effective online courses. Unlike traditional in-person classes, online courses lack the real-time feedback that comes from interacting directly with students. Without a good process to collect feedback, it’s easy for online course creators to miss the mark on course content, assessments, and learning activities. Student insights help you learn what’s working well and what might need improvement. They enable educators and general course creators to identify gaps in the curriculum, technical issues, unclear instructions, and other areas that need refinement.

Also, continuous feedback boosts student satisfaction and engagement. Your students want to see their input valued and influencing future course versions. Their investment grows when their feedback leads to improvements. That is why, in this article, I’ll share how to collect deliberate feedback effectively so you can ensure your course remains relevant, polished, and optimized for student learning.

Methods for Collecting Student Feedback

Here are effective and simple methods for gathering feedback from students in an online course.

1. Soft Launch

Launching your online course to a small test group first lets you gather valuable feedback before the full launch. Choose a group of five or ten students who fit your target demographic and enroll them in a beta version of the course. You could even ask your friends and family to do this, but be aware that they might be biased. As your test students or beta-test students work through your material, activities, and assessments, check in periodically to gather their feedback. Some key things to ask about are:

  • Is the content presented clearly and is it easy to understand?
  • Do the learning activities reinforce the course concepts effectively?
  • Are the assignments and assessments aligned with the stated learning objectives?
  • Is the course workflow logical, or do gaps need to be filled?
  • How is the overall student experience? Are the platform and course material intuitive and user-friendly?

Taking the time to soft launch will help you identify and resolve issues early on, ensuring a more engaging course experience for future students.

2. Surveys

Surveys are one of the easiest and most effective ways to gather feedback from students in an online course. They are simple to create using free online survey tools and can be quickly distributed to your class via email or embedded into your course platform. Often, a simple form tool or Google Forms is enough. You could also opt for a professional survey tool, but that might be overkill.

The survey format allows you to ask various quantitative and qualitative questions. You can use multiple-choice and rating-scale questions to gauge satisfaction levels, and open-ended questions to solicit areas for improvement. Standard questions to consider include:

  • How satisfied are you with the course overall?
  • How engaging and effective are the learning materials?
  • How knowledgeable and helpful is the instructor?
  • What aspects of the course work well for you?
  • What aspects of the course could be improved?
  • (Add specific question related to a module or exercise)
  • (Add ratings for the overall course, audio quality, etc.)

I believe that forms are effective for collecting feedback. The response rate for such form surveys ranges between 5-30%. The effectiveness will depend on whether you make the survey short and easy and offer a reward or just a compelling reason for students to finish it. The aggregated responses will provide valuable insights into what’s working and what’s not. Also, let your students submit answers anonymously so they feel comfortable providing candid feedback.

3. Interviews

Conducting one-on-one interviews with students is a great way to get personalized, in-depth feedback about your online course. Though time-intensive, interviews allow you to have detailed conversations to gain insights into each learner’s experience. Some tips for effective student interviews are listed below:

  • Reach out to a diverse sample of students, both new and advanced, more and less engaged. Get broad perspectives.
  • Prepare questions about course objectives, materials, teaching methods, assessments, and overall experience beforehand. Leave room for open-ended feedback.
  • Let students speak freely and listen attentively without judgment. Dig deeper into their responses.
  • Take thorough notes or record the interviews with permission. Capture telling quotes.
  • Analyze the feedback to identify themes and actionable improvement areas. Look for needs, pain points, and bright spots.
  • Follow up with students about changes made from their feedback. Show them you value their input.
  • Conduct interviews at milestones during the course. Track the evolution of feedback over time.

Interviews require effort to schedule, facilitate, analyze, and implement. Yet the qualitative insights you gain directly from learners can profoundly enhance your online instruction. The human connection and understanding is worth the investment.

4. Review Sites

Online course platforms like Udemy and Coursera have built-in review systems that allow students to leave feedback and ratings after completing a course. Monitoring these unfiltered student reviews can provide invaluable insight into the student experience and perspective. Course creators should make a habit of regularly checking reviews on these sites. Pay attention to themes and trends in the commentary to identify consistent pain points or areas for improvement. Legitimate concerns that come up repeatedly should be addressed in future course updates and iterations.

The transparent nature of public reviews means they can’t be ignored. It’s important for you to show you are listening by responding professionally to both positive and critical feedback. This engagement fosters an open dialogue with students and demonstrates a commitment to meeting their needs. While some negative reviews may seem overly harsh or biased, creators should resist the urge to discount all criticism.

Research indicates that 53% of customers expect a response to their negative online reviews within a week of posting. There are often valuable nuggets of wisdom hidden within the extremes of praise and complaint. Review sites provide a platform for authentic student voices, so listen carefully to what they say.

5. Analytics

Analyzing student data and metrics is necessary for understanding how your online course is performing. As an instructor, you have access to a wealth of analytics that can help identify strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities for improvement. Specifically, reviewing student participation, assessment performance, and progress metrics enables you to pinpoint where students are struggling. For example, you may notice specific quiz questions or assignments have low pass rates. This signals content that needs further clarification or support.

Analytics also reveal how students interact with course materials. Are video lectures being watched fully or skipped? Are students actively participating in discussion forums? Metrics like play counts, comments, and progress status indicate engagement levels. By regularly checking analytics, you can make data-driven decisions to optimize your online course. If a certain module shows low participation metrics, you can add more interactive elements or assessments to boost engagement. For areas where students struggle, you can provide additional examples, practice questions, explanations, or learning resources.

The key is to let analytics guide your instructional adjustments, not just guesswork. This ensures you are directly addressing problem spots and continuously improving your online course based on real student performance data. With the right analytics insights, you can refine and enhance your course to maximize student success.


Collecting feedback is crucial for iterating and improving your online course over time. By gathering input from students and stakeholders, you can identify areas that are working well and opportunities for enhancement. Each feedback collection method showcased here provides valuable insights into the student experience. Implement a combination of these techniques to regularly check the pulse of your learners. The time invested in thoughtful feedback collection will strengthen your online course and learning community.

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