5 Ways To Test Online Training On A Tight Budget

5 Ways To Test Online Training On A Tight Budget
Summary: Your online training program needs to run smoothly right from the start, but how can you ensure that it will achieve the desired results BEFORE deployment? There's only one way to find out, and that's by putting it through the pre-launch paces. In this article, I'll share 5 techniques that you can use to test your online training course, even if your organization is on a tight budget.

How To Test Online Training On A Tight Budget

It's essential to evaluate the effectiveness of your online training program after it's been deployed. This allows you to determine if it's meeting expectations and offering the best ROI. However, you may be able to save yourself a great deal of time, expense, and stress by gauging its effectiveness prior to launch. Here are 5 ways that you can evaluate the quality of your online training course on a limited budget.

  1. Focus groups
    Invite a select group of corporate learners to try out the prototype and then hold an online discussion to get their honest feedback. Share the link to the online training course at least a week before the virtual focus group and ask them to focus on key aspects of the online training experience, such as the online activities or assessments within a particular module. Be clear about the goals of your focus group by creating targeted questions, then choose the ideal video conferencing platform to host your event. Encourage them to participate by providing gift cards or other rewards. To keep costs low, offer them incentives that don't take a chunk out of your budget. For example, badges or points they can use in the online training program, if you are opting for a gamification strategy, or paid time off from work. After you've conducted the focus group, analyze all of your data and look for trends that can help you make necessary improvements.
  2. User observations and interviews
    This involves closely observing corporate learners as they participate in the online training course testing, and asking questions as they progress through each online training activity or module. You can do this online by using a screen sharing program and web conferencing software. The observation approach gives you the opportunity to monitor their facial expressions, body language, and other non-verbal forms of communication to see what they really think about your online training course. Take notes as they go along and pay close attention to online training modules or activities that they struggle with, which may indicate that the online task is too challenging. Likewise, online modules that they breeze through might be too easy, which can lead to learner boredom. At the end of the observation, conduct a brief interview to get their overall thoughts and opinions about the online training experience. Make certain to jot down notes and questions that you'd like to ask while they are participating in the trial run.
  3. Survey questionnaires
    Using questionnaires for surveys is an effective feedback collection method for large scale eLearning projects, as it allows you to get input from a broader audience more rapidly. Send a demo of the online training course to a few employees from each department, such as the first online training module or task-based scenario. After they've gone through the online content, ask them to complete an online survey that focuses on specific aspects of the online training module. Also, take the opportunity to gauge how your corporate learners feel about the online training experience, their perceived benefits, and how they think they'll be able to apply the online training material in the real world. Set a deadline by which all of the surveys must be submitted, and then analyze your findings to identify the strengths and weaknesses of your online training strategy. Be sure to collect feedback from members of upper management, such as supervisors and team leaders, as well, as they can offer invaluable insight into the needs of your staff.
  4. One-on-one interviews
    Conducting one-on-one interviews is one of the most time-consuming evaluation methods, but it is also one of the most thorough. Once again, you'll want to choose a select group of employees who are willing to participate, preferably one or two from each department. Ask them to participate in the rough draft or prototype of the online training course, then invite them to share their feedback during a web-based interview. This can either be done via video conferencing software or a messaging platform, based on the preferences of your participants. Prepare a series of questions beforehand, but also make it clear that you welcome their input. Encourage them to share their honest thoughts about the online training experience, and allocate plenty of time so that they don't feel limited by the clock.
  5. Interactive assessments
    Give your corporate learners access to the online training course and follow it up with an interactive assessment, such as a branching scenario or simulation. Make sure that the interactive online assessment contains key takeaways from the online training course so that you can analyze the data and identify trends. For example, if most of your corporate learners struggle through a particular section of the branching scenario, you know that the corresponding section of the online training course needs some fine tuning. Interactive assessments are especially useful when skills are involved, as multiple choice and true or false exams aren't able to measure skill development as effectively. Also, include explicit instructions so that corporate learners who lack the necessary tech experience can still navigate with ease. You might even consider developing a responsive design assessment so that mobile learners can participate as well.

Use these 5 techniques to test your online training course to ensure that your online training program is fine-tuned before the big launch. This can help you to avoid any employee frustration that could result from glitches, ineffective online training course content, and poor navigation controls. So, put your best foot forward and roll out an online training program that is already polished and perfected.

If you need to ensure that your online learners will actively participate in your next eLearning course, ask yourself, whether you would take this eLearning course yourself. Read the article Litmus Test In eLearning: Would You Enroll In Your Own eLearning Course? and give yourself the answer you need before the big launch.