feedbackDisclaimer: This post is not about the “feedback funnel” that’s used in sales or customer relationship management. If you’re looking for that I’m afraid you’ve come to the wrong place. But you’re welcome to stay and see what I consider to be learning development’s “feedback funnel.”

Here’s a little secret. There are few things as frustrating to a learning and development (L&D) team as hearing, “We’ve got a global change” when a project is in final review. A global change is something that needs to be applied throughout an entire project or course, not just to a specific screen or page. These can be things like modifying a style guide rule, adding a new button to the user interface, changing the way completion or scoring are handled, etc. As its name implies, final review is the last review pass before a project is finalized. In short, global changes aren’t supposed to be made at the last minute.

The feedback funnel is an analogy that can be used to break down what kinds of feedback/revision requests are expected at each step in the overall revision process. Bear in mind that this is an ideal concept and in reality there’s going to be some overlap. In a perfect world, the first round of revision would catch every issue and possible improvement and there wouldn’t be a need for any additional reviews. But that’s not the way reality works.

For this example, I’m applying the feedback funnel concept to the multiple rounds of formal review that are often carried out for a programmed eLearning course. (Although the basic concept can also be applied to other things like classroom training scripts, job aids, etc.)

1st Review

The initial round of review is the first time the client or reviewer has seen the programmed course. They’ve probably spent a lot of time with the storyboards and/or prototypes before now, but seeing “the real deal” is often a different experience. The eLearning team expects to get a lot of feedback in this round and it often includes a wide variety of things: layout, graphics, navigation, interactivity, technical bugs, content corrections, grammar issues, typos, etc. This is the time to bring up global changes.

2nd Review

An additional review round is often used to confirm that the feedback from the first round has been applied. This round also tends to uncover specific changes for particular screens. Since all of the “big stuff” is out of the way the reviewers can focus on details such as whether all the text is correct, if the audio narration matches the CC text, if the interactions are working correctly, etc. Hopefully, there will be fewer feedback items in this round than in the previous one. Text changes are still fairly common at this point. From here on, there ideally shouldn’t be any global fixes unless something “course stopping” is discovered. At this point, they’ll involve a lot of unanticipated time, which can affect the schedule, scope, budget, etc.

Final Review

The final review is where you get approval for the course. There should only be a few feedback items by this stage and they should all be minor things, like final typo corrections. Everything else should have been caught in the earlier rounds. On behalf of L&D professionals everywhere, please don’t wait this long to ask for a global change. Please.

In summary, the number and complexity of feedback comments should (ideally) taper as the review process goes on.

Note: There are many ways to handle reviews and that means different methods with varying numbers of review passes. If you don’t use three, you could try adapting this general concept into “beginning, middle, and end.”

If you’d like to read more about training, learning, and instructional design check out the rest of this author’s blogs.

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