E-learning has already won its place as the best suited learning & development tool in today’s organizations. It is flexible, cost-effective and most appealing to the new generations now becoming the majority in the modern workplace.
However, in spite of all these great attributes, the challenge still remains the same as with classroom training – assessing the results and being able to present them in a form that makes them easy to follow both for HR specialists and managers.
The ultimate objective of any corporate learning program is to show some positive effects on business results. Measuring the effectiveness of e-learning, the rate of knowledge transfer and the benefits it has for the organization is a more intricate process than it would initially seem.
Evaluation of e-learning starts from the design phase
It’s a common misconception that evaluation of a certain course should begin once it is complete and tested on at least one control group. Since corporate learning should be all about helping employees achieve both their potential and organizational objectives, it is very important to make sure the content is in line with learner expectation and business needs.
Gathering feedback from managers and end-users as the creation process is moving along ensures that the end product will be one suited for all involved. Even if getting constant feedback may lead to changes in the original outlines, in the long run it is a lot better to make the investment of time and effort at this stage rather than correct potential shortcomings later on. In order for e-learning to have any positive results, it has to be the right thing right off the bat.
Managers should be convinced that enrolling members of their teams will lead to some positive outcome and employees should feel it is indeed something worth their while.
Expectations should be made very clear
Let’s face it, unless taken out of a glossy magazine and aiming to tell you what your best features are or what dress style suits you best, nobody enjoys taking tests. The school system is responsible for making people at least slightly jumpy when the words ‘quiz’, ‘evaluation’ or “assessment’ show up on screen.
Even though today’s e-learning modules are designed in the most appealing way, making it fun and engaging with the use of game mechanics and digital wizardry, having the knowledge tested can be rather off-putting. That’s why it is best to let the learners know all about the impending assessments from the beginning.
Of course it is also advisable to make this part of the modules just as engaging as the rest and instead of simply marking wrong answers, give additional explanations or taking the learner back to the part of the course that covered that particular information.
There’s more than one learning type
When setting about to create e-learning content, designers always pay attention to include different ways of presenting the material so as to capture as many learners as possible. This should also be the case when putting together the assessment part.
It’s true that multiple choice is the easiest way to go when talking about internet-based testing but it is not the only evaluation method nor the most effective considering the big differences in learner preference. Contextually framing the questions and adding visual stimuli can be used to satisfy visual and auditory learners, improving their chances for good performance.
If the information provided is long and somewhat tedious (such as new intricate internal procedures or complicated legal issues) it’s best to space out the questions, asking learners to answer them at different key moments while they are going through those documents.
Creating explorative environments or providing content and having learners find answers are great ways to add context to assessments and make them inclusive experiences.
Assess the assessment
Once the learner assessments are in, it’s best to also take into consideration and analyze those results in terms of program effectiveness. The easiest way to do that is to put the available Learning Management System at work. Most of them have built-in features that can easily track these results and provide valuable insight into participation, progress, success and failure rates and most important challenges or difficulties in performance.
With all this data it’s easy to generate valuable reports that can give a comprehensive big picture of the whole learning process.
Such comprehensive reports are a truly valuable asset especially in budget meetings when number-friendly board members want to know what corporate money has been spent on and what the benefits of that spending were. The company’s learning & development strategy can then be adapted in such a way as to keep the good aspects going and improve on the shortcomings that were identified.
All in all
Having a good e-learning program is great but making sure you can at any time prove just how good it is based on learner and manager feedback, test results and most important overall results is key in keeping it going and getting the support for designing new successful courses.
Roxana is a learning and development professional with over 10 years experience in corporate training.