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Lance Noland

Self Employed Writer

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5 Ways to Tell if Your eLearning is Working


On July 5th of this year a team of tired NASA rocket scientists anxiously awaited the arrival of a radio signal that would confirm whether or not the Juno spacecraft had successfully entered Jupiter’s orbit.

After decades of planning and preparation---culminating in the launch of Juno nearly 5 years ago---the NASA team had no choice but to sit and wait the 49 agonizing minutes it took the radio signal to travel from Juno to earth. And then came the message, followed by a host of high-fives.

A corporate eLearning training course is not unlike a NASA space mission. It can take months to create learning content designed to accomplish specific mission-critical goals. And once the course is “launched” online, the challenge for trainers is to determine whether or not it’s successful in meeting those objectives. But unlike those Juno rocket scientists who had no choice but to passively wait once things were out of their hands, those looking to evaluate the effectiveness of their training programs need to take a more proactive approach.

If you seem to be in the dark with respect to assessing how effective your online training content really is, here’s a look at 5 ways to tell if your eLearning is working.

1. Check the Numbers

A numeric message from Juno told scientists that it had been successful in achieving orbit around Jupiter. And checking the numbers is a good first step in determining the success of an eLearning program. The good news is that you don’t have to be a rocket scientist. Today’s learning management systems make it easy to run reports that allow you to track and analyze important numbers, such as course completion rates. Being able to see which courses participants completed and which ones they didn’t can give you important insights into the attributes needed to make a course engaging enough to be completed.

2. Get Feedback

Participant feedback is critical in determining course success. And there’s no better time to get it than right after eLearners finish a course. Including a short satisfaction survey on the last page of the course will help you to gather honest feedback while the learning experience is still fresh in your participant’s minds. The survey isn’t about writing essay questions. It’s about simply rating the course on a scale of 1 to 10 or even 1 to 5 to give you a better picture of what’s working and what isn’t so you can make course corrections to better meet your learner’s needs. This can be a challenge, especially if you’re using “one size fits all” cookie-cutter eLearning programs that you’ve purchased. Using custom eLearning solutions will help you to fine-tune your content to make the course content more relevant, effective, and engaging.

3. Get Focused

Conducting focus groups with course participants is a good way to get specific feedback about course content. The first focus group should convene before you launch the program to get a better feel for what learners are looking for. The second focus group should be conducted after launch, when the course has been in use for six months to a year. But focus groups only work if the participants feel that their comments---both positive and negative---are welcome. So it’s absolutely critical that the discussion be lead by an impartial facilitator with good people skills.

4. Use “Before” and “After” Performance Assessments  

The ultimate goal of online training is to improve employee performance and productivity. In order to measure the impact that an eLearning course has had on an employee’s work performance, it’s important to assess their performance before they took the course and after. Managers are a great resource for providing you with pre and post course assessments of the employees they supervise. By contrasting these performance results you’ll be able to see whether the course had a positive impact on developing the skills of your employees. In turn, these valuable insights will help to inform future courses to deliver content that translates into improved on-the-job employee performance and productivity.

5.  Have Other Course Designers Weigh In

The success of the Juno mission is the result of collaboration between a number of teams. Some teams developed the program, while the role of other teams was to weigh in and provide additional technical feedback and insights that could help the mission reach its objectives. By the same token, those who design eLearning courses should consult with other designers to make sure that the content achieves the organization’s objectives while delivering a compelling and effective eLearning experience. 

Author Profile Picture
Lance Noland

Self Employed Writer

Read more from Lance Noland

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