eLearning for the Long Haul: How Successful Was Your Training
Assuming you build your courses in a logical manner, you can be confident that learners that go through online courses using our web based training software have learned the material you are attempting to teach – for the time being. At the end of the day, the whole point of an online training software is to make sure employees are truly absorbing and applying what they have learned long after the course has finished.
For you to gauge how successful your training program has been, you need to implement some method of post-course evaluation. There are some evaluation methods out there, including the prominent ‘Four Levels of Learning Evaluation’ outlined by Donald Kirkpatrick.
Below we outline four stages of training evaluation which are similar to (and influenced by) the Kirkpatrick model, with some adjustments to take into account our specialty – online training and the use of an online training platform. This is an end-to-end sort of evaluation and outlines the time frames and methods to evaluate training success.
1 – Immediately after completing the course.
Almost immediately after your users have completed their online course or training, ask them for feedback. Have them fill out surveys that help you gauge what they feel they got out of the program as trainees. ‘What did you learn’, ‘did you like the course’, ‘what resonated with you and what didn’t’, are all the types of questions you should be asking. You’re trying to get an immediate reaction with respect to how they interpreted the material being taught to them, and whether they felt it was the most effective way of doing so.
2 – Two to four weeks after completing the course.
At this stage, you want your trainees to demonstrate that they can still perform well on tests given on the subject of their course. Have they met the measurable learning objectives that you outlined at the beginning of their course? See how your employees fare on a test that is similar to the quizzes or exam from your online course. They may not score as well as on the exams in the course, but if they show that they still know the content, that’s a good sign. If not, they may not have learned as much as you were hoping so ask them to revisit the content.
3 – Six months after completing the course.
This is where you really hope to see the fruits of your training labor – determining if the knowledge your employees have acquired has transferred to increased performance on the job. If analyzed properly, this stage will give you a great sense of the overall effectiveness of your training program. Do you see an improvement in their performance months after completion? If you had given them a test before the courses started as a pre-screen, try giving them the same test at this stage to see how they score. Surveys and interviews of both the trainees as well as managers will also go a long way. Get a sense of how your staff feels the employee has progressed over the last several months. If your training has translated to a better employee on the job six months after the course, you can feel confident it was a success.
4 – Looking for return on investment six to twelve months after completing the course
This stage of evaluation is usually the most difficult to gauge, but it’s probably the barometer that quantifies employee development best – in terms of bottom line. Are you starting to see a return on your training investment? Mind you, if you are using an online training software, the investment is almost negligible but what tangible benefits do you see? How much has efficiency increased, or how much more money is the employee making you post training? Whatever your business goals are, find the relevant numbers that best indicate the results of training. Seeing a return on investment down the road is the ideal outcome and often the most rewarding feat a training course can provide.