Much like everything else, the learning and development initiatives of enterprises across the globe have experienced a major shift owing to technological change. eLearning and mLearning have cemented their place in the enterprise of today. To determine the advantages of your eLearning program, adopters quote ease of learning, better learning outcomes, better knowledge retention, and consequent application and cost-effectiveness as some of the benefits. The eLearning market is growing steadily and, according to a report by Global Market Insights, is expected to exceed USD 200 billion by 2024.
All this is the good news. But, the industry despite its growth trajectory has a certain cause for concern. While we see reports of this upwards trend, other reports suggest that the average completion rate for MOOC’s averages out to a low 15%. The dropout rates for online learning also stand at 70% as against 15% of classroom training. Engagement rates are also perilously low, standing at 2 to 3%, in most cases. These numbers make eLearning seem like an expensive distraction for enterprises. And yet, the market continues to grow.
To my mind, what this suggests is that while having an eLearning program and an LMS is a great mechanism to enable learning, to determine the advantages of your eLearning program is even more important. Here are a couple of things, I feel, organizations should pay close attention to when evaluating the success and effectiveness of their eLearning initiatives.
So, how do you determine the advantages of your eLearning program?
Measure what matters, and in this context, measuring engagement rates matters the most. Organizations need to evaluate the number of users signing up for the program, assess if the users are completing the training programs and identify the number of people who are dropping out. It is also crucial to identify at what point in their learning journey they are dropping off. Using detailed, data-backed insights helps in identifying these areas, assessing the learning gaps, and the user pain-points to take the measurable steps necessary to bridge this gap.
While all eLearning modules have user assessment metrics in place, I suggest that when measuring the success of the program, evaluating the user activity versus performance is essential. User activity means considering all activities that are related to a user’s participation – the engagement metrics, the completion rates etc.
Performance measurement gauges the impact of the learning module and focuses on the users’ knowledge gain. Conducting regular assessments, having evaluations at the end of every module and having both low-level and high-level evaluation to capture the user’s reaction to the course helps in assessing the success level of eLearning programs. Using scenario-based tests that evaluate how an employee will apply the knowledge in the real world, and defining performance goals to measure learner success rates are also great ways to assess the degree of learning that has actually taken place.
For eg., employing the Kirkpatrick’s Model for post-training evaluation may be a good place to start to assess the effectiveness of an eLearning program. This method uses feedback, evaluation strategies, behavior changes, and data and analytics to judge the effectiveness of an eLearning program.
Is the shift from application to practice happening? Are the workers able to apply the knowledge they have gained during the training program in their real-world work environment? Are they being able to achieve the desired outcomes on completion of the program? Or is it that the workers feel obliged to take the course and they don’t really want to take the course? Do the learners feel satisfied with the knowledge acquired by them?
The objective of an eLearning program is to align learning outcomes with the business objectives. The program can be considered successful if the learners are able to achieve these objectives. Organizations should also have a defined timeline that they use to assess if the training has resulted in a direct impact on work; thus determining the benefits of eLearning. For example, after undergoing a sales training, the salespeople should be able to increase the number of closures. Retail training for customer service should translate into higher customer satisfaction. You get the idea.
ROI of eLearning
ROI of eLearning is also a metric that has to be considered when measuring the effectiveness of eLearning programs. The ROI of eLearning can be calculated by converting business gains to a monetary value and measuring that against the cost taken to develop the course and all other associated costs, including the time of the employees. Did the course have an attributable impact on the bottom line? Did it improve business results? Has the performance of the participants improved? Is it showing a tangible productivity impact? If the eLearning module has been able to show a Return on Expectations, then it will demonstrate a Return on Investment. However, for this, it is very important to clearly define the expectations of the stakeholders to ensure that the desired outcomes are achieved.
Finally, the users of the eLearning program are its best critics when determining the benefits of eLearning. Taking regular feedback, implementing changes to the program proactively to improve it, and identifying and implementing aspects that will make the program more meaningful to the learners is critical. And once a program delivers meaning to the learner, the outcomes will automatically show a positive trend, in this case, determine the advantages of your eLearning program and show the ROI of eLearning.
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