Live, Instant, and Delayed Feedback in EdTech

One of the affordances of EdTech is quick feedback. However, there are three types of quick: live, instant and delayed. These timings have different pedagogical uses and are good to have in a author’s or teacher’s toolkit.

Live feedback:

Custom indicators respond live to dragging point C in a GeoGebra applet
Sliders allow parameters to be scrubbed through in a Desmos graph

The digital system gives continuous information back to the user. This kind of feedback allows the student to play and experience. They might ask and answer many wordless questions in their head about the situation being represented.

Live feedback is a good entry point for a situation, but it should be focused so that there is not too much happening at once. For example, only point C may be dragged in the GeoGebra example, and the indicators are chosen to only convey diagonal lengths.

Instant/Immediate feedback:

The graph responds in an instant, but not continuously, to equation manipulation in a Desmos activity. [See Dan Meyer for more thoughts]

Instant or immediate feedback is one step removed from live feedback. A key difference is the lack of continuity.

How might the above situation be different with live feedback? If the parameters of the parabola could be scrubbed through or dragged via points, the task becomes centered on dragging instead of typing numbers. Users can arrive at a solution without considering the equation.

Delayed feedback:

The system responds only after a submitted entry

Further, delayed feedback can be extended so as to not show the result until later, perhaps after the student explains their reasoning. Below, the delayed feedback actually takes the form of an instant feedback setting.

One more step up from instant feedback: a user must make a complete investment in their response before seeing its result. This slows down a user’s iteration so that they cannot quickly update parameters.

Delayed after reasoning feedback:

Students receive delayed feedback after reasoning without the chance for manipulation.

Finally, the “slowest” quick feedback is to insert a task inbetween the response and the feedback. For instance, a student might have to justify their equation to land the plane with a written explanation before they see the result. Or in the above gif, the student is shown a flat image and must reason with no feedback. Then the next screen employs an instant feedback screen as the delayed feedback for their reasoning.


Live, instant, and delayed feedback each have their uses depending on how you want your user or students to engage with the material. As a teacher or author, consider how you might want to use one form vs another, or in what sequence you would use them.