6 Reasons To Use Focus Groups in eLearning

6 Reasons To Use Focus Groups in eLearning
Summary: In this article, I'll delve into the most notable benefits of using focus groups when developing and designing eLearning courses. If you've been on the fence as to whether focus groups are worth to be incorporated into your eLearning development strategy, these convincing arguments may just be the catalyst you need to start using this analysis tool.

Why You Should Use Focus Groups in eLearning

While focus groups are often associated with television shows and tangible products, they can actually be invaluable feedback tools for eLearning professionals. Focus groups in eLearning give you the opportunity to gain insight into how your eLearning deliverable will be received and if will in fact provide a truly effective eLearning experience. It will also allow you to fine tune your eLearning project by determining its strengths and weaknesses.

  1. More effective than surveys and polls.
    While surveys and polls can be helpful when trying to get feedback for your eLearning course or online training, focus groups are much more effective when it comes to gauging learner experience. This is primarily due to the fact that online surveys offer limited insight. They typically consist of very narrow questions, and very few people choose to actually leave comments if you do leave space in the survey for a more in depth feedback. Not to mention that learners usually don't have the time or the motivation to complete surveys. On the other hand, eLearning focus groups are handpicked individuals who are there for one clear purpose: to test out your eLearning deliverable so that you can create a powerful learning experience for your learners. Therefore, you can rest assured that they are going to give you ideas and opinions on what is working and what you need to improve upon moving forward.
  2. Gain an in depth understanding of learners benefits.
    Not only can eLearning focus groups give you the opportunity to determine the strong and weak points of your eLearning course, but they can also help you to identify the benefits that your learners will receive upon completion. For instance, you can ask the eLearning focus group what they have learned from taking the eLearning course and how they feel this knowledge can benefit them in the real world. This will offer you insight into how your learners will ultimately be able to apply the information they'll acquire. It can also allow you to determine if the content is being presented in such a way that they can retain knowledge for later use or if it is causing cognitive overload.
  3. Helps you to determine eLearning courses’ prerequisites.
    It's also important to mention that focus groups in eLearning offer the added advantage of determining your eLearning deliverable's prerequisites. For example, if members of the focus group don't have any prior experience with the subject matter and seem confused after completing the eLearning course, this can clue you into the fact that your learners will need to have some professional knowledge before they enroll for the eLearning course. You can then add prerequisites into the syllabus or course description, such as: “learners need to have prior knowledge of basic sales terminology” or “learners should have completed the beginner's customer service module before taking this eLearning course”.
  4. Allows you to explore known issues.
    If you have any issues with your eLearning development strategy or the design of your eLearning course, then you can create an eLearning focus group that delves into that particular problem. For example, rather than having them assess the entire eLearning course, you can provide them with the module that you're concerned about and ask them specific questions that help you to narrow down how to solve the problem. Then, after you remedy the issue, you should ask the focus group to assess the module once again, so that you can ensure that the issues have been fully addressed. In addition, if any new problems arise as a result of your improvements, eLearning focus groups can help to identify those as well.
  5. More convenient and cost efficient than one-on-one interviews.
    While one-on-one interviews with learners may give you a detailed analysis of how your eLearning course will fare after it's rolled out, this particular feedback technique can be costly and time consuming. Generally, you will have to compensate these individuals for their time, which is typically more than the pay of a focus group member. In addition, you will have to sit down with several different individuals in order to get a general overview of your eLearning deliverable's strengths and weaknesses. When conducting a focus group, you can speak with several individuals at once and don't have to worry about scheduling conflicts that could delay the interview. There's no wasted time, and you get immediate eLearning feedback that can help you to fine tune your eLearning course quickly and conveniently.
  6. Offers you the opportunity to fine tune every aspect of your eLearning deliverable before launch.
    There are several things to consider before offering your eLearning course to your learners. You wonder whether the content is well organized and well written, or if the overall design of the eLearning course allows for ease of navigation. In fact, there are so many issues to consider that some of them may just slip through the cracks and end up diminishing the quality of your learners’ experience. However, if you have a number of focus group members trying out your eLearning course before you roll it out, there's a good chance that every aspect of your eLearning deliverable will be carefully assessed and analyzed. You know what they say: “two sets of eyes are better than one”. In a focus group setting, all eyes are on the quality of your finished eLearning deliverable.

eLearning focus groups are worth considering if you want a more in depth analysis of your eLearning deliverable, or even if you want to ensure that it is meeting the needs and wants of your audience. Given that focus groups can offer you all of these significant benefits, why not try using a focus group for your next eLearning deliverable?

Want to learn about additional feedback techniques and tools you can use to take your eLearning course to the next level? The article Tips To Give and Receive eLearning Feedback highlights 9 tips to give and receive eLearning feedback, so that you have the power to provide the best possible learning experience for your learners.