The importance of feedback

 

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Feedback, whether inherent in the task itself or supplied by another, is essential to learning. This is true whether figuring out what happens when an item is dropped from a high chair (will it always land on the floor; will a carer always retrieve it?), how hard and at what angle to kick a ball to send it over the goalpost; how much a sibling can be antagonised before retaliation ensues; or whether your performance meets expectations.

In almost all of these cases, the tasks are self-selected and the feedback is integral and immediate, enabling the learner to adjust what happens next accordingly. While those conditions may also be true when considering the success of performance; such as our own assessment of our output, it is not always so.

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Students and employees may be engaged in tasks that are not of their choosing, which provide little inherent feedback, and are reliant upon feedback from others that may be neither timely nor specific to the learners’ needs. Sometimes the feedback can be unhelpful and hinder, rather than encourage, learning, without any real explanation of how improvement could be made.

As a teacher, I found it necessary for an exchange of feedback between me and my students. This was sometimes supplemented with feedback from carers and other school personnel. How well the students engaged in the classroom, participated in class activities and performed tasks provided me with feedback on my performance as a teacher and provided important information about what to do next, which in turn involved feedback to students.

While feedback is an essential ingredient in any classroom task, one of the most enjoyable for me was the daily journal. Each morning the children would write to me and every afternoon after they had gone home I would read and respond to their messages. The children loved writing these diaries as much as I loved reading and responding to them. Responding was time consuming but I believe it was worth it:

  • The children had a purpose for writing
  • Their writing had an audience
  • They saw writing as a tool for communication

When responding to their writing, I would make neither corrections nor changes. However, I would model correct grammar, spelling and punctuation as I responded to the content of their messages. The children were then able to refer to my comment when writing their next message.

Sometimes the children would tell me about something different each day. Sometimes we would have conversations that could extend over weeks. I always felt it a privilege to have this window into the children’s lives. At the same time, it provided a record of their development as writers.

At the end of the year I would bundle up all of the journals that had been filled during the year and present them to the children to take home. Recently when I was talking to the mother of a child I taught in the eighties, she told me how they had been looking at those journals with his young children who are now at a similar age to his when he wrote them. How gratifying it is to know that they were treasured by at least one family.

thank you - rose

When I started blogging, unbelievably, almost three years ago, I had no idea of what to expect. I am a little more knowledgeable now, with thanks to those who provide feedback by reading and commenting. I am very grateful to all who have joined me along the way. The conversations here or on your own blogs are what have made the journey enjoyable and worthwhile.

yves_guillou_question

Now I have a decision to make and I would appreciate your feedback in helping reach it.

At the same time as I have been blogging, I have been preparing early childhood teaching resources for my website readilearn. I always expected readilearn to include a blog and a newsletter. I knew I couldn’t write that additional content alongside posting twice weekly here and preparing new readilearn resources as well. I thought to:

  • post once a week on this original blog by continuing to participate in the flash fiction challenges set by Charli Mills at the Carrot Ranch, as I have done for more than two years; and
  • post once a week on the readilearn blog with content written specifically for early childhood teachers rather than general readership.

However, it has recently come to my attention that it may not be possible for readers to leave comments on the readilearn blog, which leads to my quandary.

I enjoy the discussions in response to posts almost as much as writing them; and

I am disappointed when I am unable to “like”, leave a comment on, or share another’s blog post I have enjoyed.

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It seems some bloggers are more interested in broadcasting than engaging with a community, but that is not my way.

Newsletters differ from blogs, though, and the readilearn newsletter, which will provide information about new resources, teaching suggestions and other educational content, will “broadcast” and not invite feedback.

How important, then, is it to have a blog that doesn’t invite feedback. I’m thinking that, without feedback, I’ll quickly lose motivation.

What do you think?

When you read blogs, do you look for an opportunity to add your voice through a “like” button, leaving a comment, or sharing content on social media? Is the ability to engage with the writer important to you, or do you simply read?

As a blogger, do you welcome comments and discussion, or is it more important just to get your ideas out there?

Thank you

Thank you for reading. I am very interested to know what you think and appreciate your feedback. Please share your thoughts.

 

78 thoughts on “The importance of feedback

  1. whitneywalson

    I loved reading your blog. I believe that feedback is key in helping students learn. If Students make a mistake on an assignment and all the teacher does is tell them that it is wrong without giving the student a reason or telling them how to fix it, how can the student learn? Feedback I believe should be given even when the student is doing a good job on homework and other assignments.

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  2. Rowena

    Hi Norah,
    Great to hear that you managed to get the comments enabled over at Readylearn. I’m like Geoff in really loving and believing in the comments and I think the feedback and interaction is really important in refining your ideas. I’ve only found a few blogs that don’t allow comments and others which rely on Google and don’t work for me, and I get annoyed by them. Makes me feel the writer doesn’t want to hear from me.
    I actually wrote a post which addressed some of these issues today…about fast versus slow and steady growth as a writer and talked about how blogging with the feedback from comments has nurtured my writing https://beyondtheflow.wordpress.com/2016/09/13/writing-is-procrastination-really-a-sin/
    I hope you keep this site going as well as I’ve enjoyed keeping in touch and reading your flash fiction. All the best with the new venture as well!
    xx Rowena

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    1. Norah Post author

      Many thanks for your encouragement and support, Rowena. I’ll pop over to your blog and read what you say about feedback. It has always been important to me. I am happy with the slow and steady. There’s lots of learning to do along the way.
      Best wishes. N

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  3. Gulara

    I was so touched by the story of your former student. I keep things for my kids because what I kept from my own childhood is patchy.
    As to feedback, I love liking and sharing other people’s writing. I can’t always leave a comment but I like to have an opportunity to engage with writing and writers. Good luck with the new site, Norah. Perhaps it’s worth using your current website as a bridge to the new one. The content doesn’t need to be identical, there can be an overlap. I think you do it beautifully in response to the prompts from the Carrot ranch. Perhaps you’ve been writing two posts in one already. At any rate, only doing things often shows us how to do it 🙂 good luck!

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    1. Norah Post author

      Thank you, Gulara. Your comment means a lot to me. I’m sure your children will appreciate the memories you are keeping for them. I like to like and share posts too, and leave a comment when I can. It does take commitment though.
      Thanks for you wishes re my new readilearn site, which has launched today. I like your suggestion of creating a bridge from here to there. Others have suggested similar. I can but try and see what works. Thank you. 🙂

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  4. Bec Colvin

    Hi Nor, I loved this post. I love reading about the clever and thoughtful things you would do in the classroom, and I imagine there are many other diaries which are treasured by families! I’m not sure about the blog/comments. I tend to think that your readilearn site may not need the interaction, as it’s a business, whereas this blog is all about discussion and you, so it is appropriate here. But I don’t know. Thanks for sharing. Did you get some good comments which provide feedback for your readilearn decisions?!

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    1. Norah Post author

      Thank you for your comment and suggestion, Bec. I have received some wonderful feedback from very generous bloggers who are happy to offer support. I haven’t heard yet from the developers about the possibility of blog comments. I’m finding that I need to think differently about the content of posts if comments aren’t allowed. I think I need to put on my thinking cap and give it serious thought – and quickly! 🙂

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  5. Sarah Brentyn

    I absolutely love the discussions on my blog. I know I don’t have a popular blog or lots of followers but I love the engagement from those who visit. I especially enjoy when one of my my short, little Thought Bubbles generates a large response. It’s so interesting to read all the different ideas and thoughts. So, yes, I understand your issue. But I do like your plan of once a week on each blog. Are you positive people can’t comment? There might be a way.

    P.S. I used journals when I taught, too. How beautiful, though, that your student kept his for all these years and is sharing them with his children. 💖

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    1. Norah Post author

      Thank you, Sarah. I’m so pleased to hear that you enjoy the responses to your blog posts as much as I enjoy those to mine. It’s interesting that we both used journals when we taught. Maybe the importance of feedback is something we share, either in our nature or our experiences, or both! I always enjoy reading the comments to your thought bubbles too, almost as much as I enjoy reading your thought bubbles. You always see something in the everyday about which we should question ourselves more often. You’re not someone to accept what is, simply because it is. I like your perceptiveness.
      I’m still waiting for a response about comments from my web developer so I’m not sure yet if comments will be possible. I’m pleased you liked my plan for once a week posting on each blog. I thought it was a perfect solution for me – until this hitch. We’ll see. I’m told launch is imminent, like next week, so all should be revealed soon. I’ll not hold my breath though. Their idea of time and my have repeatedly proven to be not the same thing!

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    2. Norah Post author

      Hi Sarah, Thank you once again for sharing your thoughts. I found out just last night that comments have been enabled. Yay! I’m very pleased. 🙂

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  6. Charli Mills

    What a legacy you left behind for your students! As I was reading, I could see how blogging feedback relates to feedback in education. Personally, I respond with motivation to positive feedback. At Carrot Ranch, I wanted something different for writers where feedback could be shared without criticism. I believe in constructive criticism, but I wanted a safe space to practice fiction, motivate creativity and learn from reading other responses. I don’t have a wide breadth of blogs that I follow because I’d rather follower fewer and be engaged than skim and post a like to say “I was here.” Although I do like the like-button for that ability when I want someone to know I read.

    So, you are at an exciting crossroads! While I’m delighted to have you participate at Carrot Ranch as a Rough Writer and Ranch Hand, I wouldn’t ever want any writer to have to hold on to something just to keep participating. Yet, you’ve created such a warm and thoughtful community here it is worth keeping. However, your blogging community and flash fiction participation is probably different from your readilearn target audience. Do you want that level of engagement at your website? Is it necessary to your website’s success?

    If not, I think Geoff has an elegant solution. You can broadcast on readilearn and then re-post here to get community feedback. You can get different feedback at readilearn in the way of linking up to social media sites, providing a form for email responses and periodically posting site surveys to monitor who is following and why. I admire how efficient you are with blogging and think you would do well with a combined approach. As a reader here, I’d enjoy reading your readilearn posts even though I’m not your target audience. I enjoy learning from you!

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    1. Norah Post author

      Thank you, Charli, for the thought that has gone into your response, demonstrating your wealth of experience and knowledge. I like the way you have asked me questions to provoke my thinking, rather than provided clear answers. The traits of a wonderful teacher: help the student find their own answers from the source within.
      I think (know) you have achieved what you set out to do with the Carrot Ranch. Everything you stated is a reality. My first attempts at writing were fiction and I still have a strong desire to write fiction, though I have gone down the non-fiction path at the moment. That is one thing I love about the Carrot Ranch prompts. It gives me an excuse every week to practice fiction writing. You said that you didn’t want someone to hold on, just to keep participating. I think we’re sidestepping each other here. I love participating. I participate for the feedback, the constructive criticism, the encouragement, and the feeling of belonging to a positive community of writers. There is far more to the flash fiction than participating for the sake of it. I love to read and encourage my fellow writers, as much as I enjoy their encouragement. I fear without the Carrot Ranch my audience and feedback, which is important to me, would be quite small. I love being a part of it all, that’s why I don’t want to give it up, but thought I’d replace my second weekly post (usually on Fridays) with one at readilearn. As you say, the audience for each is different.
      You have made some great suggestions to consider and I value your input and support. I am happy to have you learning from me. I certainly enjoy learning from you and the community you have gathered around. Thank you, Charli for so generously sharing your wisdom.

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      1. Charli Mills

        A moment of SMAG! Community has such an important role in our writerly motivations, but sometimes I hear bloggers feeling overwhelmed or thinking it isn’t achieving goals. You understand exactly why your community matters (me, too!) and I’m certain you can also work on developing your readilearn audience and maintain your community ties. We all learn and grow within a supportive environment and I love that component of writing within community.

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        1. Norah Post author

          Our SMAG communities are great. We are here for each other. Even when some of us have to disappear for while to do other things, we are here waiting, ready to rejoice at their return. I have never let go of that goal to be a part of something bigger. For me to have readers and receive comments, I must read and give comments. It is as simple as that. Friendship is never one-sided. We tire all too easily of those who want to talk, talk, talk, and never listen. In most relationships there is always someone who does more talking and one who does most listening. I’m usually the listener. Maybe that’s because I’ve got more to learn! 🙂 But if it’s always them, and never me, it soon becomes tiresome. There needs to be a balance, and that doesn’t mean it has to be 50-50, but it does have to work for both.
          The community I have engaged with on my blog is not the community I aimed for, but it is a community I love and appreciate. I can not imagine letting go of the wonderful friendships I have developed. While friends do come in and out of our lives at different times and for different purposes, I’m not yet ready to let go of these special people.
          I don’t know if a readilearn blog would develop the type of community I would like. Maybe teachers are too busy to engage. I didn’t know anything about blogging when I was in the classroom. All I can do is try, and see what happens, but I have to think about content that doesn’t invite comments differently from content that does. Thinking cap on! 🙂

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    2. Norah Post author

      Hi Charli, Thank you once again for your lovely comment and suggestions, some of which will be useful even though I just found out last night that comments have been enabled! Yay! I think a combined approach as you suggest will work well, and I will look to implement some of your suggestions. 🙂

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  7. thecontentedcrafter

    I meant to come back and leave a comment for you – I got interrupted after reading earlier. I’m on a bit of a break from blogging and the amount of folk who are sending me private messages or leaving ‘Miss you’ notes on my blog are mounting daily. This is the community we blog for I think – and the thought of posting into a vacuum isn’t my idea of fun really. 🙂
    Plus, as yours is an interactive activity [teaching/learning] i’m sure your readers might have questions or comments they’d love to pass on – the opportunity to comment, though not imperative must be an option surely. Hold your breath and close your eyes for a moment – can you change platforms Norah, if having a comments option is not on? Can you cut and paste and move elsewhere? [I’m experiencing a stomach lurch at even suggesting it – oh the hours and hours and hours of work!!] I hope you find a way forward to make your readilearn site work the way you envision it – that’s the idea isn’t it to have a platform that reflects who we are and what we have to offer. Best wishes m’dear.

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    1. Norah Post author

      Thank you, Pauline. It is lovely to see you here again. I have been thinking about you and wondering what you have been up too – missing your updates in my inbox.
      Thank you for giving so much thought to answering my question. I appreciate your suggestion. My website is built in WordPress and I won’t change that for a few different reasons. I can’t even imagine thinking about that, particularly when it’s not launched yet. However your words of support and confirmation that “the idea is to have a platform that reflects who we are and what we have to offer” is very important to me. A few others have made suggestions also, so combined with yours, I have a few ideas swimming around in my head. I’m hoping some of them will stick together and form something tangible. Building the website (or rather, having it built) has been an interesting exercise. There have been numerous adjustments to make along the way. I hope this one is the last – for now anyway!
      Thank you for your encouragement and support. Best wishes.

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    2. Norah Post author

      Hi Pauline, Thank you once again for your lovely comment and support. I just found out last night that comments have been enabled. Yahoo! Now I don’t have to contemplate changing platforms; or not for a while at least! 🙂

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  8. Caroline

    Always interesting Norah. Thanks for this post.
    I like commenting on your blog from time to time. I’m not a fan of a like button as it tells one very little: what specifically do you like? Does that mean you will add to your practice or ideas? Do you want more? On Twitter *like* simply earmarks a tweet for me.
    I love the daily diary idea. So often children’s writing in classrooms has no purpose beyond practise, or audience. your diaries build relationships. Lucky lucky kids.
    Please keep writing posts we can respond to, at intervals that suit your busy schedule. Caroline

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    1. Norah Post author

      Thank you for your comment, Caroline. I always appreciate it when you share your thoughts here. I was interested in what you said about the “like” button. I quite often “like” a post to acknowledge that I read and enjoyed it. I generally leave a comment too if I can think of something to say, but not always.
      Thank you for your encouragement to continue writing posts. I offer you the same encouragement. I read yours more often than I comment. Sometimes I feel I have nothing to say in response, but usually lots to think about. 🙂

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    2. Norah Post author

      Thank you once again for your comment and support, Caroline. I have just found out that comments have been enabled on my readilearn blog. I’m pleased that conversations will be able to occur over there!

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  9. A. E. Robson

    I feel Early Childhood Education is a vital part of a child’s growth. It would only be natural that their growth would flourish from topics you might post that their teachers could incorporate into their learning regime. In turn, teachers, I would think, would want to interact with you and your blog for clarity as well as being able to share topics with their colleagues.

    On a personal side, I enjoy the connection with people who choose to comment on my blogs. And, in all honesty, blogs that don’t give me the opportunity interact are not read as often as those that do.

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    1. Norah Post author

      Thanks for your lovely comment, Ann, sandwiched as it is between two wonderful statements. Yes! Early childhood education is very important! And yes! Blogs that don’t provide an opportunity to interact are not read as often.
      I would love that interaction with teachers. I know I would learn a lot from them as well, and their responses would help me in deciding what other resources might be useful. Thanks for you support.

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    2. Norah Post author

      Thank you again, Ann, for your feedback. I found out just last night that comments have been enabled on the readilearn blog so hopefully that will help keep readers reading!

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  10. Hugh's Views and News

    As far as blogging goes, I believe both leaving and receiving comments are the lifeline of the blogging community, Norah. I’ve just installed a badge on my own blog which states that I do comment back. However, as important as leaving comments, are responding to comments. I’ve stopped leaving comments on blogs where the author does not reply or acknowledge the comment. Even if they don’t have anything to say, it’s still possible to acknowledge a comment by at least liking it. Likewise, I’ll only ever leave a comment if I have something to say that will add to the value of the post or the discussion. Comments such as “Great Post” or those that leave links to one of their won blog posts which has nothing to do with the subject being discussed, go straight to my spam folder.

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    1. Norah Post author

      Thank you for reading and commenting, Hugh. I think you have written a few blog posts in the past about the importance of commenting on others’ posts, and responding to comments on your own. It’s a concept we seem to “get”, but some others don’t. Like you, I give up leaving comments on blogs where they consistently fail to get an acknowledgement. One blogger I followed in the early days said that she doesn’t respond to comments as she said everything she wanted to in the post and then left it up to others to have their say. I stopped reading, as well as commenting, pretty quickly. If someone comments on my blog I like to make sure I get over to their blog and leave a comment, and share their post as well. I have been over to yours a couple of times this week, but see you are having a break from posting your own work – will check it out again later. I hope you are making good progress with your writing.
      Thanks for confirmation of what I was thinking about comments. I’m starting to get a feel for the consensus, as well as few alternate ideas. 🙂

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      1. Hugh's Views and News

        Yes, I’m on a blogging break at the moment, Norah, while I get my first book ready for publication. However, I’m still reading the occasional blog post while having a rest, away from the editing and other work involved. It comes as a welcome relief.
        I’ve always said to anybody who says they don’t have the time to reply to comments, that there is a function on WordPress where you can disable comments. It can even be switched on after the post has been published. Time is a big factor and replying to comments can be very time-consuming, but if you don’t want comments because it’s too time-consuming to answer them, then why not disable the comments function altogether? For me, not responding to or acknowledging comments is like inviting somebody for a coffee and ignoring them. None of us would do that, would we?
        Interesting theory from the blogger who said everything she had to say was in the blog post. I take it that it also included anybody asking a question about the post?

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        1. Norah Post author

          That’s a good analogy – inviting a friend for coffee and then ignoring them.
          As for the blogger not responding to comments, it’s so long ago now that I’m not sure. I don’t think she responded to questions either. I’ll have to try to remember who it was and check out to see if she’s still writing and maintaining the same “rule”.

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          1. Annecdotist

            I do remember a blogger who had a policy of not responding to comments, although she did have an email thingy that acknowledged them and, I think, a post asking if people thought it was a good idea (I think they thought it wasn’t).

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    2. Norah Post author

      Hi Hugh, Thank you once again for your comment and support. I found out just last night that comments have been enabled on my readilearn blog. I’m excited. Now I just have to attract some readership; once it launches, of course. 🙂

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    1. Norah Post author

      Thank for reading and commenting, Dayne. I really appreciate your support and encouragement. I agree that vacuums are not very conducive to creativity. I appreciate your kind words about my teaching. I’m sure your children would have been a pleasure to work with and learn from. Enjoy the weekend. 🙂

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    2. Norah Post author

      Thank you once again for your lovely comment and support, Dayne. I found out last night that comments have been enabled on my readilearn blog. I’m excited!

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  11. TanGental

    Hi. Oh you are a thought provoker aren’t you? I enjoy the comment facility most, though I feel annoyed sometimes if I can’t I respect the blogger their own preferred approach. I love the comments I receive more than anything. It means more often than not the reader has read the full post which isn’t always the case with a like. As for the Readilearn issue can you not copy and paste (if linking is too difficult) the relevant article onto this blog and have people comment here? I accept this won’t necessarily be your Readilearn people but they could be directed here to comment if that is the only way to do it.

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    1. Norah Post author

      Thank you, Geoff! I think we are in one mind about the comments! It is always affirming when someone has taken the time to read and comment. Sometimes I simply “like” if I can think of nothing to add to other comments, or can’t think of anything useful to say. I like to let the author know that I have visited and read. I don’t usually “like” if I haven’t read (I like to check the content first – professional image and all that!)
      Interesting suggestion about posting here. I’m thinking that’s just what I’ll continue to do. I really appreciate your thoughts. 🙂

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    2. Norah Post author

      Hi Geoff, I found out last night that comments have been enabled. I’m excited. Your suggestion still has benefit though and I might consider doing something similar. Thanks so much.

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  12. Steven

    Your generalised questions have no easy answer; it all depends on the author, purpose of publication, motivation and audience (and probably a few others things as well).

    Admittedly I am probably not the best one to ask this question of either, for I do not have my own blog and could easily count the number of blogs I occasionally submit feedback to on a single hand (yours being one and most of the others for work purposes). I personally tend to “use” blogs more for the information or ideas they contain, rather than for the opportunity to comment. Having said that, if I have something to comment on, it will generally not be a trivial comment.

    In some situations a broadcast-like medium may be more appropriate and I imagine that these would include situations where the author is authoritative (to the content being discussed), or perhaps where they are attempting to push forward ideas, avenues or suggestions. It may also be more appropriate where the reader has little regard or need for the opinions of readers. In some sense I think the online educational industry somewhat falls into this category (think along the lines of, “there is a mostly-correct way to do something and you do it like this”). Unfortunately broadcast does also come across as self advertising or pushing its own agenda; ugly and tacky.

    The other end of the spectrum will be those types of situations in which true communication is required; it can not be performed without two-way discussion. It is very easy to see this in the current big social media platforms (where “social” is the whole idea of the medium). The authoritative figure may be the author, reader, neither or both, but in this situation all are attempting to foster (as opposed to pushing forward) ideas and discussions. For these sites, the important bit is the feedback.

    Now thinking back to your particular case… broadcast is purely that alone. There is little or meaningless opportunity for engagement, leaving limited opportunity to promptly adapt to changing needs. If you aren’t living up to expectations or listening to avenues that have been suggested, then you will only realise this when readers/visitors begin to look elsewhere.

    I suspect that for your purposes, purely broadcast is not going to be effective in the long term (although you may well find some initial successes using it alone). Based on your descriptions of Readilearn, when I consider the author, the purpose of the site, the motivation and the audience (some of who will be subscribers), I tend to think that some degree of feedback is going to be required (if not for the readers sake, then for the authors). I also think that you already knew this as you were writing this entry.

    There may still be a way for you to receive and discuss feedback on Readilearn. Jump onto YouTube and search for videos from a channel called “PBS Space Time” (I think it is). It is a science/physics/astronomy type channel, but it is not the information that you should look at, it is the general format of the video. Pick a random video and if you skip ahead to the last few minutes (of most videos), you will find that the presenter actually discusses the feedback that was received on the previous video. You could consider doing something like this on Readilearn with email feedback appearing on the next Readilearn blog.

    It seems that you have some difficult decisions to make on your pioneering venture. So much to write, with such limited time to do it in and with potential restrictions on feedback.

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    1. Norah Post author

      Wow! Thank you, Steven, for your detailed and insightful comment. It is interesting coming from a reader’s perspective rather than a blogger’s perspective. That you read, and then share such helpful advice is affirming. I appreciate the time you take to read and to provide a considered response.
      You are right in your summation that I had some idea of the comments I would receive and the decision I would make before I wrote this post. However your comment, coupled with the comment from Aaron Davis who responds to email newsletters, has provided me with alternatives to consider.
      Thanks for suggestion I look at PBS Space Time. Wow! There’s some awesome information available there, and through Great Courses Plus. Once again I cry, “Too much to learn, not enough time!” But yes, your point about discussing the feedback received is interesting, and I can see the possibility of that if people respond by email. Thank you for helping me see an alternative.
      readilearn visitors will be able to rate and review individual resources, but feedback to a blog is something different.
      I really appreciate your suggestions, and will think some more about the possibilities.

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    2. Norah Post author

      Hi Steven, Thank you once again for the generosity of your comment and support. I found out last night that comments have been enabled. I’m exited! Now I’ll just have to work on building readership over there, once it launches, of course!

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  13. jennypellett

    Hi Norah
    I think we set up blogs to invite communication so feedback and the sharing of ideas is vital. I must admit I stop following those bloggers who start to only use their site for self promotion – be it a published book or a service. While this can be useful to draw attention to whatever it is you want to promote, to my mind, it shouldn’t be the reason you start blogging in the first place.
    Second, I love the daily journal idea you fostered with your students. How rewarding both for them, their parents and for you years later with that invaluable feedback.
    As far as professional feedback goes – I think it’s fine if it is spontaneous. Sadly the trend here is for teaching staff to be ‘observed’ by senior management by prior arrangement. This leads to lessons being taught in a restricted and reserved way because teaching staff are aware that they need to tick every single box to gain an ‘outstanding’ grade. All management need to do is ask us, the support staff, whether a teacher is performing and delivering engaging lessons or not. But who are we, after all? I have sat in some inspirational lessons and also some very dull ones. But I’m never asked for feedback…I think senior management are missing a trick!

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    1. Norah Post author

      Thank you for joining in the conversation, Jenny. Your comment is definitely confirming what I am thinking. It seems most of us are agreed on the importance of communication and feedback.
      I’m pleased you liked the idea of the daily journal. I loved it. I never knew anyone else to do the same, but I found it very rewarding. It helped me get to know the students in a way I wouldn’t have without it.
      I think professional feedback here is tending to go the way you describe as well with a need for certain boxes to be checked whether the students are learning or not. It reminds me a little of the old days here when inspectors would visit schools once a year and sit in on classroom lessons. Teachers would go to great lengths to put on a show just for that one lesson. I didn’t believe in putting on a show. I did my best for the children every day, and if that best wasn’t good enough for the inspector, then so be it! (I never had a complaint though.)
      I agree that your senior management are missing out on some very valuable information by not asking support personnel for their feedback. This seems to be happening everywhere. Those that know don’t get a look in. Those that “think” they know make the rules that have little benefit for anyone else. It’s such a sad and disappointing state of affairs. Your teachers are fortunate to have your support.

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    2. Norah Post author

      Hi Jenny. I’ve just found out that comments have been enabled on my readilearn blog. I’m excited. Hopefully I’ll attract some readers who will be happy to engage in some of those important conversations.

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  14. Annecdotist

    Firstly, I’m always moved by your reports of your dedication to your young pupils – what a great way of engaging them individually, and I now see this as an obvious precursor to your generosity in the blogosphere.
    I can see the sense of segmenting your different readerships with different blogs, and I’m glad you’re not thinking of giving up on flash fiction. But I’m a bit confused and wondering why your Readilearn blog wouldn’t be able to take comments – wouldn’t that be fairly simple over your web designers to arrange? If not, you could perhaps have a link to another WordPress site or even have two blogs in this one?
    As you know, my blog has no a Like button and is a bit more effort than WordPress for leaving comments. As I’m interested in feedback, and have very much enjoyed it when posts have provoked discussion, and sometimes envious when I see the number of comments on blogs such as yours, I’ve considered switching now and then. But I also see how much work is involved in replying to comments. Okay, that’s often very rewarding and enjoyable, but for me I’d be concerned at how much that takes me away from writing fiction. With a blog tour in process, and actually coming to an end today, I’m feeling a bit tired while immensely grateful for the support I’ve received.
    Sorry if that’s a distraction from the main question but replies to comments – and even whether that’s necessary – is perhaps worth considering.

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    1. Norah Post author

      Thank you for your comment and encouragement, Anne. I’m not sure that I was ever as good a teacher as you think I may have been, but I always endeavoured to be a better teacher than I had been before. It was always important to me to show the children that they were welcomed and valued, they they were of most importance in the classroom.
      I was surprised and confused about comments not being possible on the readilearn blog as well. I took it as a given. The developers are investigating whether they can make it possible (I can’t see why not) but they have told me that they don’t have comments enabled for any other of their clients at the moment. Maybe their other clients simply want to provide information to their clients, rather than engage in discussion. I guess a blog allows information to be updated or expanded without the need to permanently change the website. While it is not ‘no comments’ yet, I’m wondering what to do if it becomes a reality. Most commenting here have so far confirmed my thoughts, though your final question is worth consideration also.
      Responding to comments is time consuming, but enjoyable, and one of the parts of blogging I enjoy most. I do find it more difficult to comment and respond to others’ comments on your blog, and frequently wish you had a ‘like’ button. We’ve discussed this before. WordPress lets me know when responses have been made to my comments on other WP sites, alongside comments on my blog. It is easy to have conversations with other WP bloggers. I don’t need to go back to their sites to check out whether they have responded or not, as I do with yours. I know, I could subscribe to comments on your posts, which I sometimes do when I remember, but then my email inbox fills up. Maybe that’s a good thing. It would be helpful when responding.
      I do agree with you that time responding to comments takes from other things. I think it is a matter of scheduling time for everything – a little of each, most days.
      I think you have done amazingly well with your blog tour. I congratulate you on it. I apologise that I have not as yet visited all the blogs on your tour. I’m amazed at how well you kept up responding to comments here, and on others I read. I understand how time consuming and tiring it must have been. I hope you found the process worthwhile, and can now relax a little and enjoy the rewards! 🙂

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      1. Annecdotist

        Ha, I think if you managed to do half of what you tell us here (and I’m pretty sure you wouldn’t lie to me) you were a far better teacher than any I ever had.
        Likewise, I do really enjoy the comments, especially when they’re as thoughtful as yours, and it generates a discussion, but I often feel as if I’m responding in a rush (hence my frequent non-typos) which often feels inadequate. Though also worth noting (to myself) that sometimes I have more time than others. I was responding to this post from a position of busyness, which has quietened somewhat in the blogosphere if not in real life.

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        1. Norah Post author

          Now it’s my turn to be surprised. Your comments are always so detailed and full of wisdom and insight, that I never would have suspected they were written in a rush.
          I’m not sure if I’m happy that your blogging busyness has quietened. I do hope the busyness brought some good results. It seems to me there is always something(s) more to do. Enjoy! 🙂

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          1. Annecdotist

            Thanks, Norah, but OMG 66 comments (67 with this) — you know how to start a conversation people are bursting to join in.
            Also conscious that I’m reading other blogs with several still unanswered on mine!

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            1. Norah Post author

              I hate to shatter your illusion, but would you feel less impressed if I told you that over 40 of the comments on this post are mine!
              Yes, you’ve spent a bit of time here on my blog, and I do appreciate it, but you may have some responding to do over your way too. Still it’s nice to see you here, and you’re always welcome. 🙂

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    2. Norah Post author

      Hi Anne, Thank you again for your lovely comment and support. I found out last night that comments have been enabled on my readilearn blog. I’m excited. Now I’ll just have to work on building audience over there. Once it launches of course!

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  15. aarondavis1

    I think that firstly I write for me. This is most important. However, I enjoy comments and the participatory nature of blogging, for in the end we are always better together.

    P.s. I respond to email newsletters all of the time, aren’t I meant to?

    Liked by 2 people

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    1. Norah Post author

      Thank you for joining in the conversation, Aaron. I like your comment that “we are always better together”. I’m inclined to agree. We can learn much from each other.
      Now you’ve got me thinking about responding to email newsletters. If I read them online there is usually no way to respond. I haven’t considered responding to the email itself. Have you received answers to your responses? I can see how this could allow communication between author and individual reader, but not sure how it would encourage community engagement. I’m ready for a little more learning. Thank you. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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    2. Norah Post author

      Hi Aaron, I found out last night that comments have been enabled on my readilearn blog, so I am pleased about that.
      I also replied to an email newsletter and got a response. Thank you for the suggestion. 🙂

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  16. annadelconte

    As Aaron Davis @mrkmdavis says ‘it takes a village’. He has written many blogs about the importance of communication and feedback for extending, clarifying and debating ideas. A blog is not a broadcast. It is where a community of learners can share their experiences and broaden our horizons and knowledge. In order to learn formatively we need feedback and encouragement. Thanks for being an active voice in my life Norah

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    1. Norah Post author

      Thank you for that confirmation, Anne. You expressed it so well. I’m not familiar with Aaron Davis. His blog sounds interesting. I couldn’t find him on Twitter. Could you provide a link to his blog please. I’d like to check it out.
      Thank you for the discussions we’ve had here and on your blog. As you say, it’s great to receive the feedback and encouragement.

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    2. Norah Post author

      Hi again, Anne. Don’t worry about a link to Aaron’s blog. I see he has joined in the conversation here and I’ve been able to follow the link to his blog. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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    3. Norah Post author

      Thank you once again for your comment and support, Anne. I found out last night that comments are enabled on my readilearn blog so I’m pleased about that. I just have to hope I can attract readers who will wish to join in the conversations.

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  17. davidprosser

    I think that blogging is very much a two way street Norah. The blogger needs to know they’re catching the attention of readers and both the like button and the ability to receive comments are vital for this, otherwise it’s more a case of thrusting your opinion on others if there’s no opportunity to respond.
    The reader also needs the opportunity to show they have visited and digested the blog. The Like button give the reader chance to show approval of what’s been said where they may not necessarily wish to or be able to thinks off a response. But where other things occur to many they may prefer to comment also and this facility should be open to them.
    xxx Huge Hugs xxx

    Liked by 1 person

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    1. Norah Post author

      Thank you, David. I really appreciate your comment. It supports my feeling. We obviously have similar views about blogging, both as writers and a readers. I’m pleased to have my instincts supported. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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    2. Norah Post author

      Thanks again for your comment, David. I found out last night that comments have been enabled on the readilearn blog. Hopefully now, it will be a two way street!

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  18. cynthiahm

    I would say that the comment section is of great importance. Early Childhood Educators who are most effective engage in reflective practice. This means engaging in conversations through comments is of upmost importance. It will be more effective with comments. The difficult part is encouraging people to actually leave comments. I’m not entirely sure how to do that effectively. That’s my two cents 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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    1. Norah Post author

      Thanks again for your comment and support, Cindy. I found out last night that comments are enabled on my readilearn blog, so hopefully those conversations will occur, if I can attract readers who will leave comments. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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