How To Collect Useful Learning Analytics
As an HR or training professional, you probably chose to work in employee training because you’re interested in helping people grow their skills and advance their careers. You likely weren’t thinking about dealing with numbers and spreadsheets, or about tracking learner progress and course statistics.
However, collecting and using learner analytics is central to your role in answering the question, “Is our training strategy worth the investment?” Data analysis should be a part of every (successful) training professional’s job. But it’s not always easy to find the right information and interpret it correctly.
In this article, we’ll talk about why learning metrics matter and discuss common challenges you face in gathering training data. We’ll also share best practices for overcoming those challenges.
Why Learning Analytics Matter
Training and employee development are vital pieces of your business strategy, and measuring results should be, too.
You offer training to upskill and reskill employees to keep them up to date and stay competitive. You use it to teach compliance topics to make sure you meet industry and legal requirements. Or, you may offer L&D programs as a benefit that keeps employees engaged and thriving in your work environment.
These are all good reasons to implement training. However, simply rolling out a course, no matter how well planned, doesn’t guarantee results. If you want to know whether your training is a success, you have to measure and analyze key data.
You have to look at things like training completion rates, learner performance, and other quantifiable metrics. But you also need to consider qualitative data like learner feedback, and training and manager evaluation. It can be daunting to know how to measure or interpret data correctly, and there are some common pitfalls to watch out for.
4 Challenges To Gathering Training Data (And How To Overcome Them)
You need data to answer stakeholder questions about the value of training. Data will also guide you as you seek to improve your employee development strategy. But you may face a few roadblocks along the path that make it difficult to gather the learning analytics you need.
Here’s an overview of 4 common challenges and some solutions to help you overcome each.
1. You Don’t Know What You’re Looking For
It’s hard to analyze data when you don’t know what you’re looking for. What’s a successful completion rate? How high should assessment scores be? How can you tell if the new skills are having an impact on the job?
Many companies struggle to know what they should measure because they don’t have clear goals or a baseline that defines what success looks like.
The Solution: Set Clear Training KPIs
You have a reason for every training program you put in place. Make sure you set Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) related to those goals, just as you would for any company initiative.
Clarify the results you want from training and set SMART goals that will indicate success. For instance, if your goal is to ensure that everyone is up to date on new compliance policies, you may set a KPI that says you’ll have a 100% training completion rate by the end of the first quarter.
You may also want to set a goal around knowledge retention to make sure people actually understand the new content. You might define that as “Every employee will score 85% or higher on all assessments that will follow after the training course.”
2. You’re Not Set Up To Capture Data In Real Time
Ideally, you’ll be ready to start gathering relevant learning analytics as soon as training begins. But sometimes you roll out a training program and see it to completion only to realize you need more (or different) information to evaluate its success.
For instance, say you’ve just completed a program on updated processes for cybersecurity. You have the data that every employee has gone through the course. But as time passes, it’s clear not everyone understood all the training material, and you want to find the weak spots in your course.
Going back to survey employees about their training experience will take more time than you planned. And the further you are from the training, the less reliable employee recall will be.
The Solution: Build Reporting Into The Training Process
If you’re using an LMS to deliver your training, take advantage of its reporting features. Set up the functionality that tracks—and sometimes even analyzes—key metrics. Then you can simply generate a report at any point and see how things are going at a glance.
If you’re collecting data manually, build in opportunities for assessments and progress reports. For instance, keep track of who’s enrolled and who completes each course. Have the instructor conduct assessments to see whether people are retaining what they learn. Or, include online assessments in the training that you can compile and analyze later.
Once you have some to gather data, review the results regularly to gauge progress and find areas for improvement as you go.
3. You Don’t Know How To Gather Qualitative Data
It’s sometimes easier to gather data when you’re running a course entirely online. However, LMS analytics and even classroom assessments can’t always give you a complete picture of how the training is impacting work back on the job.
Imagine one of the training KPIs for your customer service training is to increase customer satisfaction scores by 25% over the next year. Checking customer scores at the end of the year will indicate whether the training is working. But how can you know in the meantime if employees are doing what they should in order to bring those scores up?
The Solution: Follow Up With Post-Training Assessments
Continue your evaluations after the training is over by surveying employees about their feelings about the training. Ask them about their experience with using the skills on the job. You can email post-training evaluations and use affordable (or free) online survey tools to gather data. Or, send surveys directly from your LMS once a course is over.
You can also conduct less formal, in-person surveys. Ask managers about whether they’re seeing new skills at use back on the job. Have them ask employees about how they felt about their training and the skills they learned in their regular performance reviews.
You can also conduct feedback sessions at regular intervals after training. Try checking in every two weeks or every month to find out how people feel about the skills after trying them out.
4. People Hesitate To Give You Honest Feedback
Assessments and feedback sessions are only successful if employees willingly share their experiences, good and bad. Some may pause to share any concerns or confusion for fear they’ll affect their performance reviews. Or, they may think they won’t seem like a team player if they have any negative feedback.
The Solution: Create A Safe Sharing Environment
Address any fears you anticipate up front. Before you send out assessments or sit down to talk with employees, be open about the reasons you’re tracking this data. Let them know that you’re looking for places where you can improve training.
Reiterate that your purpose is to provide employees with the skills and career development they need to succeed. Then, clarify how the data they share will and won’t be used.
Boost Your Training Success With Learning Analytics
Knowing how your training is performing is crucial to achieving the business goals attached to it. When you can tackle the challenges inherent to gathering learning analytics, the metrics will be a valuable tool.
The processes you put in place to report and analyze the data will help you improve your training. They’ll also free up your time so you can focus more on the reasons you took this job in the first place: helping employees achieve their potential.