The Five Evaluation Levels Of your eLearning Program

The Five Evaluation Levels Of your eLearning Program
Summary: It is often hard to have a common frame of reference regarding the effectiveness of an eLearning program. These five evaluation levels are going to prove extremely helpful in bettering your L&D endeavors and improving your organization.

Understanding Your Value

Creating and implementing an eLearning is a very long process that passes through many different phases.  At the last phase, you should take the time and evaluate your program in order to determine if and how profitable it was. The suggested method is to run your program through a number of evaluation levels.

eBook Release: Making A Business Case For eLearning
eBook Release
Making A Business Case For eLearning
This eBook will help you understand the finer nuances of building your eLearning strategy, as well as how to justify your choices to your manager.

This step is vital because it helps you discover what can be improved, and use that knowledge to stir your program towards the right direction. But in order to do that, you must have a clear understanding of what are the benefits of eLearning, and what are its limitations.

The Many Benefits of eLearning

One of the major factors that led to the need for eLearning is globalization. With an increasing number of organizations having their workforce in different geographical locations, training them the traditional way was found to be time-consuming and costly.

Other factors that led to the popularity and adoption of eLearning were the changing demands of business, expanding markets, and product proliferation. What it boiled down to is that employees need to constantly update their knowledge and skills and therefore require training on a continual basis. Here’s how eLearning helps train your workforce:

Convenient and flexible access

Convenience and flexible access are the key advantages of eLearning in the corporate training environment. There is anywhere, anytime access available through multiple devices – mobiles, tablets, laptops, or desktops. This means employees can manage their busy schedules and learn at their own convenience when they have the maximum focus, energy, and retention capacity.

According to a Brandon Hall study, eLearning typically requires 40% to 60% less employee time than a traditional classroom session on the same material (Forbes).


Designing and developing an eLearning course might require a relatively higher initial investment when compared to classroom training, but that will be recovered as it can be reused several times. Additionally, there is cost recovery from the savings on travel, hotel, and other logistic expenses that classroom training entails, not to mention the cost of employees’ time away from work.

It’s an investment which will save a lot of money. The best part is, eLearning courses can be reused, scaled up, and updated without much expense or time, providing an extended reach that is far more than a traditional classroom session.

Compatibility with different learning preferences

Different employees prefer different learning methods. Some might be able to retain better through videos, some through PDFs, and others through gamified learning. eLearning provides freedom of choice of different learning routines to suit different learner requirements.

Measurable results and reporting

Every organization is keen to know how effective their training has been. It is quick and easy to pull the data you need to measure training effectiveness. An LMS can help you gather information on course completion rates, assessment grades, and even activities on social media. Also, when eLearning is deployed through an LMS, it enables employees to collaborate with each other.

In addition to these, eLearning provides other advantages – it enables learning to be self-driven and self-paced for employees, facilitates collaboration and community building, is environmentally friendly, and offers learners immediate feedback. eLearning also helps offer standardized, consistent training to globally dispersed learners.

Do Not Forget The Limitations

There are a few drawbacks to eLearning that must be discussed. Here are some:

  • Higher dropout rates: eLearning courses, unless extremely engaging, lead to huge dropout rates as learners abandon the course mid-way due to lack of interest and personal engagement.
  • Relatively high initial cost: The initial investment for eLearning is a little on the higher side and may be an issue for the overall organizational budget. For a small business, the eLearning budget for the first year may typically be $30,000 - $50,000, while for a Fortune 1000 company, it may be in the range of $100,000 - $200,000.
    Lack of inputs from peers and instructors: Skilled trainers and subject matter experts are at their very best when interacting with learners. These interactions result in better knowledge transfer from instructors and better learning in learners. However, this face-to-face interaction is largely missing in eLearning.

Evaluating eLearning

You can evaluate your eLearning program with the tried and tested Kirkpatrick’s model of evaluation. [2]

Evaluation Level 1: Reaction

This level evaluates how individuals reacted to the training by asking questions. At this level, each program needs to be assessed to improve for future use. Learners’ responses at this level also determine how invested they will be in the next learning. The resources or techniques that can be used at this level include:

  • Smiley/Feedback rating sheets
  • Interviews, surveys
  • Printed/oral reports organizations

Evaluation Level 2: Learning

Evaluation at this level measures the change in learners’ knowledge, skills, or attitude after training. Exploration at this level is far more challenging and time-consuming compared to Level 1. The tools and procedures that can be used at this level include:

  • Pre and post-training exams, interviews, or assessments
  • Observation by instructors and peer

Evaluation Level 3: Transfer

This level analyzes changes in workplace behavior post-training. This helps assess if the knowledge and skills taught are being applied.

Testing at this level is challenging since it is generally impossible to anticipate when a person properly utilizes something he has learned from the program, making it more difficult to determine how often and exactly how to evaluate a learner post-assessment. This level of evaluation starts 3-6 months post-training. The assessment resources and techniques at this level include:

  • Surveys and observation by supervisors
  • 360° feedback
  • Assessments developed under applicable scenario

Evaluation Level 4: Results

Level 4 measures the success of the training through factors such as returns on investments, product quality, production time, and sales quantity.

Evaluation Level 5: ROI

ROI is a fundamental business measure that describes the success of an initiative in economic terms. If the return on investment increases after adopting eLearning, it is deemed to be successful. ROI is generally calculated by monetizing the business impact gains/result.

ROI = [(Gain from investment – Cost of investment)/Cost of investment] x100

Building Blocks Of The Perfect eLearning Business Case

eLearning optimization is all about making the benefits outweigh the limitations and achieve your target ROI. The eBook Making A Business Case For eLearning will teach you how to use your knowledge in the field to form a business case that will reinforce the position of eLearning in your organization.


[1] LMS 101: Rethinking Your Approach To Employee Training

[2] The Best Way to Use the Kirkpatrick Model