The ROI of eLearning: How to measure the success of your training program
Instructional Design

The ROI of eLearning: How to measure the success of your training program

Training programs that deliver performance are in high demand. Those that are able to deliver significant improvements on the performance promise in the business environment are in a higher demand than ever before. Research and development within training centers is constantly evolving to match the learning preferences of the overwhelmed digital learner. How can an online training program deliver the desired return on investment, the sought-after ROI?

In this article, we will reveal some of the latest trends in retrieving and evaluating the ROI of eLearning.

Without a proven track record for bringing in the promised business revenues, retaining customer loyalty and offering strong value propositions, a training provider might as well close up shop. Companies these days are spoiled for eLearning course choices. They no longer seek out courses that reinvent the wheel, insult trainee intelligence or train for good-to-know skills.

Modern businesses need eLearning programs that foster must-have skills, in order for their employees to perform. In short, the hunt is on for eLearning programs that contribute to your KPIs and increase the ROI. How can eLearning training programs achieve both?

When training programs have been completed and assessment scores demonstrate an average 85% achievement rate, managers expect to see the performance figures rise too. However, a direct correlation isn’t this easy.

Let’s take a step back.

Managers have a responsibility to execute their SMART goals, and the “M” stands for “measurable”. Their goals are intimately aligned with the company’s strategic goals. Not delivering on those goals in a given fiscal year can put their jobs on the line. As a result, an eLearning program with all the bells and whistles created with a top notch authoring tool holds no value if it cannot help a manager reach those goals.

In the process of selecting an eLearning instructional designer and a development team, the foremost question that is asked is “What have your employee performance levels reports been like?” This speaks to the well-known fact that online training programs have multiple learning analytics to report.

The question being indirectly asked is: “Are you using learner analytics to improve your eLearning training programs? If yes, how are you using them? What parameters are helping you improve your courses? Can you show us some screenshots of these analytics?” This may sound pretty heavy for a “layman manager”, but believe us, the current digital times have revolutionized the consumer perspective.

Learner analytics are now taking center stage when evaluating and selecting the right eLearning training provider. These kinds of data are not easy to calculate. They can be expensive and sometimes even border on threatening user privacy. But learner analytics measure many specifics, ranging from learner satisfaction on the eLearning training interface, to the use of frustrated language by learners when interacting with peers or the eLearning course facilitator.

Perhaps the single most important factor measured by learner analytics is the degree of engagement demonstrated by the learner when logged in to the eLearning program. The post-course survey also has a wealth of information that can help deduce and predict the success factors associated with a training provider. Be warned, aesthetics and graphics alone can no longer impress your clients. Only the right numbers from learner analytics will. Make sure to save good screenshots to impress your clients.

Many times, the assessment scores of a particular eLearning training program will not translate into an actual performance improvement. Sometimes, trainees scoring poorly at the eLearning summative assessment will perform very well in the work context. How do managers measure this performance success and report to their senior managers? How do they prove they have indeed achieved one of their strategic SMART goals?

Simple. They utilize the time-tested Kirkpatrick’s Model for post-training evaluation. Here is how the model is adopted by managers measuring the success of an eLearning training program:

Kirkpatrick’s model is comprised of four levels. Remember, this model can easily be integrated into the learner analytics feature of a learning management system.

Level 1

This level measures the reaction of the trainees by recording their feedback. Using surveys at this stage is also favorable in retrieving the reactions of the learners. A good way to achieve level 1 is to conduct a pre-training survey, as well as a post-first session survey. Make sure you extract information such as the trainees’ expectations from the training program and the degree to which these expectations were met. Look for emotion-related or affective reactions on various training aspects.

Level 2

Learning achievement is measured with the aid of formative and summative assessment scores. A great way training providers achieve level 2 is by preparing very clear and simple learning objectives. A rule of thumb is to have one skill per objective. Pairing assessment items with objectives is the key to achieving learning AND performance.

Level 3

At the third level, behavior changes are assessed. This level is obtained through the use of observation checklists and company-specific evaluation tools to measure behavior changes. Line managers are responsible for completing these checklist. They note down the degree at which changes in attitude and behavior took place.

Level 4

This level is measured using a variety of data and analytics. The goal is to measure the benefits achieved from the eLearning training program. The following cues help measure business impact: productivity gain, impact on quality measures, getting higher number of customer subscriptions, selling more units etc.

Level 5

ROI is then calculated by converting the business impact gains (as shown in level 4) to a monetary value. For example, when a higher number of customer subscription is received, the total subscriptions multiplied by cost of one subscription will provide the net profit as compared to the previous months. This profit is a result of an effective eLearning training program.

If you haven’t been working on learner analytics in your learning management system, now is the time to take advantage of its features.

Remember, the more you know about the learner’s attitudes towards your training program, the better you will be able to modify their behavior during the training. Also, the more you analyze the learner with the aid of analytics, the more learner-centered material you will be able to create.

If some areas are not covered by learner analytics, create meaningful and insightful pre- and post-course surveys to get hold of any missing information. Improving the eLearning experience in iterations is the only way to improve your eLearning ROI.

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