Metrics For Assessing The Success of Your E-Course

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Do your courses really contribute to a better workforce? It’s a tricky question for sure, especially if you are mostly paying attention to one metric: course completion rates. It’s an easy one to track, but the problem is that completion does not equal effectiveness. Even if 99% of learners finish a course, you have little understanding of whether they retained any information, applied it on the job, and if your course had any effect on your organisation as a whole.

As a result, you cannot precisely tell whether a particular course was worth the investment both from a business and an employee perfective. So let’s fix that, shall we?

The General E-Course Metrics Everyone Should Track

To develop at least a basic understanding of how your course meets the students' needs (or not), measure the following simple metrics.

Overall course completion rate: Just like in any offline class, there will be dropouts. However, your goal is to identify when and why exactly some participants choose not to proceed. Sometimes the explanation can be relatively simple:

  • Lack of engagement/progress tracking mechanism that will encourage the participant to finish.
  • Too ‘chunky’ course sections that are overwhelming to the majority and not adapted for those “short attention span” type of learners.
  • Lack of clear navigation paths and/or confusing UX.

Time to complete the course. If some students are struggling to finish the course in a timely fashion, you will want to know why. The best way would be to investigate the matter module-by-module.

Failure percentage. When a significant percentage (at least 20%+) of course participants fail on their first attempt, it’s time to give your course a second assessment. Is it because the assignments/quizzes/exams are too tough or something else is wrong with the delivery?

To track and investigate either of these metrics you don’t need to have any fancy analytics tools. Merely, distribute a post-completion anonymous survey, collecting user feedback on all of the above. This way you can quickly spot the bottlenecks and make reasonable adjustments to the programme.

Advanced Metrics to Track: Activity vs. Performance Measures

Both of these measures will give you more insights into how valuable your course is to the students and to your organisation.

Activity measures present insights about the learners’ participation in the programme in a statistical manner. Most modern LMS systems already come with inbuilt analytics functionality that supports the following data points:

  • Time spent on each module/activity.
  • Time to complete the course.
  • Course registration rates.
  • Course and activity completion rates.
  • Quality of responses provided by the instructor in a specific course.

Such metrics help you evaluate the effectiveness of your current training and adjust different course sections as needed.

Performance measures give you more insights into how well the learners have been trained from a business-case perspective.  For example, you can collect and assess the following data:

  • Time to job impact.
  • Impact on business goals.
  • Impact on turnover, retention and engagement trends.
  • Correlation to change in revenue (if you can attribute that).
  • Skill effectiveness cost
  • Applicability percentage

Successfully tracking performance metrics is a bit more complicated. 

To measure what impact your training had on on-the-job behaviour and whether it has facilitated the implementation of targeted outcomes, you will need to conduct additional assessments and gather data over time. However, there's one simple formula you can apply to deterime Skill Effectiveness:

  • Training costs for creating a new compliance training programme: £20,000.
  • Objective: Score 80 or higher.
  • Scenario: 500 learners complete the training.
  • Pre-assessment results: 175 have a score of 80 or higher.
  • Post-assessment results: 300 have a score of 80 or higher.
  • Skill effectiveness cost: £20,000 / 125 = £160 per successful learner.

Of course, this formula that does not account for any additional parameters and data points. Depending on your tech setup, you may want to deploy more advanced analytical solutions.

Metrics for Assessing Learners Experience

According to the MASIE Center, only 32% of people even start on-the-job e-learning courses if they’re not required. 

Low registration and compaction rates often have a simple explanation: something is wrong with the learners’ experience. The pacing wasn’t optimal; communication with the instructor wasn’t sufficient or the course did not provide an adequate representation of how much work will be involved and what skills the learner will gain as a result.

That’s why frequently checking-in on learners’ experience is essential. If you need a simple solution, create an online quiz (anonymous) with the following questions:

  • Was this course relevant to you?
  • How would you rate the proposed materials?
  • How would you rate the communication with the instructor?
  • Was the course easy to navigate?
  • Do you feel that some important information as left out in the course?
  • Do you feel more confident in their role after completing the course?
  • Did you try applying any of the course information in your work?

You can style this as either open-end questions (to get more honest opinions) or propose pre-made multiple answers if you will programmatically analyse the data later on.

Tracking and analysing the right metrics is the key to continuously improving your training programmes and making sure that they are bringing value both to the learners' and to your organisation's business goals. The training metrics listed in the post should give you a general idea of what data to gather and pay attention to if you want to increase your success rates.

About elenap

Elena Prokopets

Independant inbound marketing consultant with 5+ years in the industry, including coaching and developing e-learning courses. Bylines at the Huffington Post, Tech Cocktail, Hackerspace by Lifehacker among others.

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