By Kirstie Greany, Senior Learning Consultant | February 2019
Evaluating elearning isn’t complicated or scary, and it doesn’t require long processes like the Kirkpatrick model. There are many easier and more modern ways to measure success and show the return on investment for your online learning strategy to business leaders.
This guide shows you what learning measures you should really focus on to demonstrate the biggest elearning ROI, and how to use learning analytics to increase impact and tell a simple story of success.
Welcome to a fresh look at evaluating elearning.
Learning is now the #1 reason why a person would want to join an organization. Employees are prioritizing their own professional development over other job perks, such as salary, and actively seizing opportunities to learn and improve their own performance. From hunting out answers on Google, YouTube and social networks to taking up modules on Lynda.com, Coursera and similar, modern employees are freely accessing online learning content to help them, in seconds – and all with the swipe of a finger.
Everyone wants workplace learning, and you produce workplace learning. Win-win, right? Wrong. Despite all that’s created, 85% of employees struggle to access learning directly related to their job. Learning value misfire.
Despite a huge appetite to learn and develop, employees are struggling to find what they need and businesses are struggling to keep hold of top talent.
94% of employees would stay at a company if it invested in their career development.
Yet according to Towards Maturity, just 15% of employees can access learning directly relating to their job.
And, according to LinkedIn Learning, businesses are fighting to stay ahead of the curve, trying to hold onto their best talent and struggling to fill key positions.
There’s something about workplace learning offerings that does not demonstrate value to end users. Perhaps it’s because it can’t be found. Perhaps it’s because it’s not meeting their needs. Perhaps it’s because many aren’t using learning analytics well enough to find out.
According to Towards Maturity, over 50% of those working in L&D admit they lack the skills to measure and use data to tell a story about impact.
With top executives recognizing the importance of workplace learning to business success now and in the future, the pressure is on for learning teams to get up to speed with learning analytics, measure the impact of their learning projects – digital and otherwise – and prove their worth.
This guide will walk you through some practical steps you can take to evaluate elearning more easily, more readily, and turn data into a stakeholder story you can tell throughout your learning project lifecycle.
First, let’s consider what we might mean by delivering value from learning projects – digital or otherwise. Long gone are the days of showing a workshop happy sheet, list of module completions or assessment scores and considering it a “job done.”
Learning value is multi-faceted.
Towards Maturity’s research with over 6,000 organizations finds there are three key areas of KPI that matter most to business leaders:
This tallies with our own thinking around people-centered learning. Our research, based on the behaviors of millions of learners, shows that the organizations that get the best ROI and can prove high value from their online learning focus in on the value for end users just as much as, or even more than, face value for the business. And they do this from the off.
When planning how to measure the success of your workplace learning, try to see value through users’ eyes first.
Employee engagement, using time wisely, being useful, supporting tangible performance improvements are win-wins for people and businesses, after all.
You can’t expect individuals to change habits or improve performance unless you offer something genuinely useful and helpful that meets their needs and expectations.
And since learning is so important to employees, it’s a key vehicle to employee engagement. Engaged employees are more productive, more innovative, and more loyal. Successful learning is the key to retention.
Successful workplace learning = employee engagement = productivity and retention
Think holistically about value, and be people-centered
This diagram shows how personal value and business value share a common ground and feed into one another.
Before you begin your learning project, hone in on the specific goals that will deliver the highest value to end users and business leaders. You’ll need to work with both parties to get there. It’s best to go for a small amount (1-3) of high impact measures of success, and really focus on meeting them.
If you’re not sure where to focus your elearning project, you can use this downloadable guide to help you Capture project needs.
Once you have your success criteria set and agreed upon, you can then focus on collating and measuring relevant data along the way. With a refined set of goals, you’ll likely only need to track a handful of data measures.
Look to tools with built-in data dashboards, or consider setting up your own.
When putting together your evaluation plan, don’t forget to evaluate the impact of performance support resources, job aids, downloads, activities and any other digital learning components, as well as your “core” learning elements. You might find it’s these that are delivering more impact!
Not sure what to track? Read on for ideas.
Don’t let learning analytics overwhelm you!
Data is much more readily available nowadays, but don’t feel you need to monitor every data point possible. While we share 20 learning evaluation measures here that you can track, pick just a few key ones.
Be people-centered with your learning evaluation. Involve end users, involve managers, involve peers, use learning analytics, and don’t be afraid to A/B test solutions.
If your project aims to increase sales, drive up customer ratings, reduce errors, increase retention, improve Glassdoor reviews, or for whatever other reason it deserves to exist – that’s what you need to track. But be holistic about it. Try:
And people-based data like:
To show how your initiative is adding value, you need to track the correlation between the learning you’ve invested in and your audience’s performance. This is where data dashboards are extremely helpful. Here’s some items to look out for.
If you’re spotting wider trends and want to know why a certain element of your project is or isn’t working as expected, you need to dig a little deeper. Here’s some starting ideas.
The most successful learning designers lead with concepts they test out and amend before developing the final solution. Help align your project with value from the beginning by running some A/B testing. Digital learning gives you huge opportunities to do this, yet not many take advantage.
You could try A/B testing:
Measuring learning impact and making improvements to your project is only half of the story. The other half IS the story! Shift from drowning stakeholders in #learninganalytics to telling a captivating success story.
Don’t wait until the end to do a big reveal. Work with stakeholders along the way to create a story together, building your team’s internal brand value as you go.
Involving managers and end users right from the start, seeking feedback, listening to their views, and reporting back on progress and what you’ve done (or not) as a result of that feedback not only boosts your project’s chances of delivering value, but means your stakeholders are all ears when it comes to playing back the “final” results. And if your results aren’t all perfectly rosy, showing yourself as a learning team that’s passionate about adding real value and proactively works with internal customers, seeks feedback and makes improvements is not a bad story to tell.
Learning and design processes are both a journey of improvement – it’s okay to bring stakeholders along for the ride
Let us help you create an elearning success story with the help of learning analytics, from the start.
Book a demo of Elucidat to see our analytics dashboards, and find out how our professional services team can help you deliver real-life impact with your elearning.
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