Don’t Let the Whingers Kill Your Courses

I’ve worked on many courses where the feedback is anonymous.

I understand why. Truly, I do.

It’s just…

There have been so many times I would have paid top dollar to be able to respond.

Here are some choice ones that come to mind:

“This course is too hard!”

It’s not. No, really – it just takes a lot of work and you’re used to being lazy.

“The course expects me to solve problems. I learn better when someone shows me exactly how to do it, and I blindly copy it a few times.”

You don’t learn better that way because no one does. Again, you’re just not used to thinking.

“The course is called X. I hate that name. It should be called Y.”

It is called Y. I’ve never even heard of a course called X. Look, it even says Y on the feedback form.

“There should be one-on-one time with the instructor.”

There are thousands of students in dozens of countries. How do you reckon we do that?

“This didn’t cover anything on topic Z.”

Right, which the course description made clear. Did you really sign up for a three-day course without carefully reading the description?

Now, I’m being highly selective… and more than a little mean here. The vast majority of feedback is fair – either positive for good courses or useful for others.

Still, this feedback does trickle in.

And for some of my courses, it was a problem. The smart learners appreciated how much I pushed them. More importantly, they’d let me know how useful the course was. They’d apply what they learned… which is the elusive gold standard in training.

Even so, there were plenty of folks who hated having to think.

I had to defend these courses a lot. Some well-being executive looking to make a mark would point out the ‘concerning trend’ in the feedback. Maybe, they’d say, I could shut the whingers up by making the course easier (and therefore irrelevant).

I lived in fear of one day leaving and, without me to keep the standards up, someone would act on the feedback.

The common answer to this is to invoke the Kirkpatrick model. That feedback is only level 1. If the course is as good as I say, then levels 2-4 will show that.

But if you know much about that model, you know how hard it can be to get that feedback.

So what did I do instead?

Did I train a protégé in my ways, leaving the course in their hands?

Did I slink away, leaving my legacy to rot?


I drowned out the bad feedback by getting even more glowing reviews.

Learners expect courses to be… well, bad. With respect to the industry, that’s the default setting.

The best many hope for is it’ll be useful.

So when it’s useful… and fun, engaging and surprising?

Well, you create enough raving fans that only an idiot would listen to the whingers.

Before I could save my legacy from the entropy of bureaucracy, I had to make it worth saving. Quality matters.

And if you want to know how to make your eLearning fun, engaging and surprising, heed this:

I cover (and demonstrate!) 12 principles you can easily incorporate into training – whether it’s face-to-face or online.

It’s short, sharp and oozing with practical advice – especially when you hit up the forum.

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