How To Measure Your Online Training Effectiveness
Regardless the amount of time, energy, and resources you invested on designing and developing your online training course, you can’t just assume it is effective. Online training is a sound investment only when you are able to measure the results. If you cannot determine whether your online training strategy is improving employee performance or giving them the skills they need, then you won’t know if it’s worth your resources. In order to find out whether your employees actually learned what you offered them, you need to evaluate your online training strategy, and thus be able to review its strengths and weaknesses for making the necessary improvements. In this article, I’ll share 8 tips to measure your online training effectiveness, so that you can make the most of your training budget and offer your employees the training they need to succeed.
- Observe on-the-job application of newly acquired knowledge.
One way to determine whether your audience retained the knowledge you offered them during your online training course is by simply checking whether employees are able to apply newly acquired knowledge and skills to practice. Are they changing their behaviors and displaying that they know how to carry out their job duties on a daily basis, or do they have to ask for assistance when it’s time to perform a transaction or deal with a customer service issue? What were the goals of your online training? Improving skills, acquiring certain knowledge, modifying behaviors and attitudes? To measure your employees’ learning, consider observing them before and after they attend the online training, so that you can compare their results. The true test of a training program’s success is whether the employees have the knowledge and skills necessary to do their job effectively and efficiently.
- Use scenarios and simulations.
If you cannot afford or you are unwilling to take the risk of measuring the effectiveness of your online training on-the-job by observations, you may create scenario-based tests that allow employees to show how to apply what they have learned during the online training. Rather than sending them out onto the sales floor, for instance, you are able to determine if they have the skills and knowledge they need to help customers or carry out basic job related tasks in a supportive environment. This enables you to measure the effectiveness of your online training course without compromising your level of customer service. Ask them to perform specific tasks and observe the outcome of the scenario, to check if the participants pass or fail the test. If they fail, you may need to revise your method, modify certain behaviors, remedy mistakes or to provide additional training content until they master the learning objectives; effective online training means all employees being able to put what they have learned into practice.
- Use performance goals.
Performance goals are a great tool for measuring the effectiveness of your online training course. How to use them? Again, you need to compare performance before and after training. In order to evaluate performance prior to online training, you must analyze your audience and make sure that you know exactly their knowledge base and experience level. Then, you will be able to determine how closer your employees have come to reaching their goals, after they have completed the online training. To keep your audience focused to their performance goals throughout their online training experience, always link your training back to performance expectations. Use assignments that simulate real life processes and help employees put their skills to practice. Moreover, you may consider conducting interviews, or integrating questionnaires that record co-worker complains or supervisor reports into your post-course evaluation. This way, you will be able to accurately measure the your online training effectiveness and determine whether your goals have been met.
- Use assessments to gauge employees’ knowledge and skills.
While assessments can test employees’ knowledge for their own benefit by allowing them to analyze their weakness and fill in knowledge gaps, they also give you the opportunity to determine how effective your online training really is. For example, if a vast majority of employees are not able to pass an assessment at the end of the second module, then you may want to consider reworking this module to improve either its content or the delivery method. You might include more interactive elements or break the online training content down into chunks that are easily digestible. Quizzes, tests and exams on skills assessment will help you get an insight on whether employees benefit from your online training and therefore are developing their skill sets or, if they are falling behind and they need additional help to improve their job performance. Measuring their skills sets prior to and after online training is, once more, essential; when identifying the specific areas in which you want to support employees, it becomes much easier to design an effective online training course. Provide your audience with the same tests that assess their skills twice: in the beginning of the online training and at the end of it. This way, you will be able to compare scores and check whether your online training had any effect on their performance. Finally, always keep in mind that a learner-centered approach will help you personalize the online training experience by focusing on specific skill sets and thus it will make it easier for you to assess your employees’ skill development.
- Promote social learning; turn employees into instructors.
Why not turn your employees into instructors by encouraging them to teach a specific topic or discuss concepts with other employees? There are two benefits in applying the concept of social ownership to measuring your online training effectiveness: First, it engages your audience to teach and learn from each other, which encourages the collaborative spirit in the company and thus motivates your employees to work faster and better together. Second, it helps you determine whether the online training participants have learned what they were supposed to have learned. In order to instruct others, they must first have an in depth understanding of the subject matter. And if they have a grasp on the topic, then you know that the training strategy is actually working, as being able to effectively transfer the "message", may be considered as a proof that you really own it. Furthermore, by having employees teach others what they have learned will not only help you to check whether your online training was successful or not, but it also helps them reinforce the newly acquired knowledge. It is a win-win situation, but it needs careful planning: in order for employees to be able to teach others about a particular topic, they will need to demonstrate that what they have learned can also be applied to the real world. Incorporate scenarios with real world benefits into your online training course design, so that you can help your audience apply social ownership successfully and become real experts of the subject matter in question.
- Gain insight directly from your employees.
Employees are in fact the best critic of your online training course. Their perception of and response to your online training will provide you with valuable feedback for measuring your online training effectiveness and thus help you to establish its strengths and weaknesses in order to revise it and improve it. To determine whether your it was engaging and meaningful to them you can use your Learning Management System as an evaluation tool. By programming it to ask questions that determine the degree of employee satisfaction and positive reaction in online training, you can collect valuable data, such as whether your audience believed that your online training course was worth their time, if they would recommend it to their colleagues and what were the topics that they found most interesting and useful. Furthermore, consider holding focus groups, in which employees will be given the chance to inform you about how they feel about their online training experience as a whole and maybe to suggest ways to improve it. Surveys and one-to-one interviews can also offer insight with respect to the online training effectiveness, employee satisfaction, and even help you to pinpoint weak areas of your strategy. You can get an accurate gauge of how employees perceive your online training course and if they are truly benefiting from the activities and exercises you’ve incorporated. Employee satisfaction is key in investigating your online training effectiveness. Beyond everything, if your audience is not satisfied with every aspect of the online training experience, it is unlikely that they will be interested, engaged and motivated to fully commit themselves to it; a situation that is not only alarming, but also an infallible indicator that you are doing something wrong.
- Take full advantage of learning analytics.
Many learning management systems have built-in analytics that give you an overall picture of how employees are progressing, how quickly they are completing each module, and how often they are logging into the system to access their online training. All of this data can help you the opportunity to gauge the effectiveness of your training and custom tailor it to meet the needs of your employees. For example, if you find that most of your employees are taking much longer to progress through a module than expected, you may want to assess its difficulty level to see whether it's too challenging.
- Calculate ROI.
Finally, to measure your online training effectiveness you need to measure its ROI. Without checking Return Of Investment you will never be absolutely sure of your online training course’s success, as you need to make sure that the performance results you have achieved were actually worth your investment. To calculate ROI you need to estimate costs, such as design and development cost for your online training, as well as the benefits associated with your online training program, such as increased productivity, increased sales, fewer customer complaints, etc. By evaluating costs against performance results you will be able to get a cost-to-performance ratio that can truly help you determine whether your online training was effective or there are still areas that need to be improved.
An effective online training strategy can help to improve your employee retention rates and increase the profitability of your organization. Use these tips to measure the impact of your online training and you will be able to easily determine whether your online training development time and energy were worth the investment, that is, whether it is really working or you need to identify ways to boost its effectiveness for the future.
No online training strategy is complete without evaluation. After all, how can you know that you are getting a sound ROI if the effectiveness of your online training cannot be measured? In the article, 10 Tips To Effectively Evaluate Your Online Training Strategy you will find 10 online training strategy evaluation tips you can use to ensure that your strategy is in-line with the objectives of your eLearning course.
Interested in learning how to enhance the effectiveness of your performance management training? Read the article Top 5 Performance Management Online Training Strategies where I highlight the top 5 performance management online training strategies that you should be aware of.