5 Ways To Use Qualitative eLearning Assessments To Measure Learning

5 Ways To Use Qualitative eLearning Assessments To Measure Learning
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Summary: A lot of us are driven by quantity over quality, possibly because quantity is easier to evaluate. However, in eLearning, it’s not about how much you know but how well you know it…and apply it in the real world. In this article, I share 5 tips on how to measure learning with qualitative eLearning assessments.

How To Measure Learning Using Qualitative eLearning Assessments

We measure the quantity in education by the number of degrees or certifications we have, or how many courses we have under our belt. Unfortunately, after decades of education, many learners still can’t think critically. eLearning courses aren’t generally designed using the traditional education model. Instead, they’re programmed to teach us in small chunks, delivering practical knowledge. The intention for them is to be functional rather than academic. But like all forms of training, one needs to assess them. Qualitative eLearning assessments need to go beyond standardized testing, though. Unconventional learning calls for equally non-traditional examination. How can you tell whether your online learners actually learned anything from their eLearning course?

1. Practical Demonstrations

eLearning simulations are very effective qualitative eLearning assessments, and actually the simplest method to test the depth of knowledge. You’ve already taught the principles, regulations, and knowledge acquired. Now put online learners into a realistic scenario where they have to turn their "book learning" into real life. For example, in a COI compliance online training course, you made it clear that bribes are unacceptable. Now put your online learners through an animated role-play situation. People rarely come up to you and say, "Here, take this bribe." Instead, you get into small talk, they find out you both like sports, and they bring you free tickets. Or they friend you on Facebook and see a birthday notification. Then they send you a card, some chocolate, and tickets to the premiere. These are the types of test cases that online learners can explore in compliance simulations. It arms them far better than drilling them on applicable fines for corruption or ethical violations.

2. Deep Thinking Questions

Everyone that has ever sat in a classroom has a contemptuous relationship with essay-based assessments. That’s probably because high school and college essays were abstract. In the eLearning sphere, an essay can be a good way to evaluate the online learner’s depth of knowledge. The trick is to ask the question right. Again, pick a contextual situation from their daily work. For example, if your online learner is an accountant, pose something they can—and have—dealt with. "Your boss has just come back from a paid vacation and you need to reimburse them. Explain your process and the thinking behind it." This allows you to test self-expression, principles of accounting, and matters dealing with "bossy budgets." It can also show you which parts of the eLearning course the online learner needs extra work in. It can guide you on what to teach next.

3. Employ Case Studies

The case study is a remarkable educational tool. While eLearning simulations engage the imagination with "what if" scenarios, case studies are real. These make them so popular qualitative eLearning assessments. They are verifiable events that actually happened and are great for bridging theory with reality. For evaluation purposes, you can reverse-engineer your examples. Pick a case study they’re unfamiliar with and introduce it. Leave out the steps and the conclusion. Just map out the scenario and the key players.

Now invite your online learners to solve the problem. They can do it on their own or in groups. Ask them not to just give you the answer. You want to know how they reached that conclusion, what their thinking was. This helps you spot specific sections that may require additional eLearning content. It’s also a good way to stimulate retention and recall.

4. Teach It To Others

In high school and college settings, students are often assigned class presentations. They do individual research on a given topic, then come and "teach" it to the class. This wasn’t just a way for the teacher to skip class. It was a technique that helped students internalize the subject matter. One, because it was being taught by one of them, so they could identify and realize their own potential. And two, because we actually learn more when we share knowledge. As learners address their peers’ questions, they dig deeper and spot gaps in their own knowledge base. Apply this principle to your online learners by inviting them to run a webinar, make a vlog, or write how-to guides. You can even encourage them to start an eLearning blog where their peers can subscribe to and provide ongoing eLearning feedback.

5. Decision-Making Paths

Develop branching scenarios that show online learners the consequences of their actions and choices, without having to make real-world mistakes. This also allows you to test how well they understand the information and can apply it in a practical context. For example, online learners are unable to achieve the most favorable outcome because they lack the necessary problem-solving skills. This tells you that your eLearning course design may be flawed so that you can incorporate more relevant and personalized online training resources. Such as real-world examples and stories that build their problem-solving and lateral thinking abilities. You can even use your LMS reporting features to spot patterns, like performance issues, that are more widespread.

It’s not enough to spend endless hours in a class or behind a computer screen. You need to seep the knowledge deep into your brain, then set it up to be retrieved at will. Qualitative eLearning assessments help online instructors verify that their online learners have done this effectively. And if not, it highlights the areas that need more work. Test your online learners through eLearning simulations and open-ended essays. Chop the conclusion off a case study and ask online learners for an "alternate ending." Sit back during certain lessons and let online learners take over, or invite them to write an eLearning blog. These 5 tips prove how good (or not) your eLearning strategy is and how to enhance it.

Now you know how effective eLearning assessments are in measure learning, but are you ready to incorporate them into your eLearning strategy? Read the article Developing eLearning Assessments: 11 Common Mistakes To Avoid to discover 11 eLearning assessment pitfalls and tips on how to prevent them.