How the Right Data Can Help Make Your Learning Strategy More Effective

Thursday, August 13, 2020

If we asked you what training metrics really matter, what would your answer be? Not long ago, you’d probably have said it was how many people were enrolled in a program. But today, as learning management systems become more sophisticated, so too does the data they can give you. For learning and development professionals, this can be a blessing and a curse.

The wealth of information can help you better monitor engagement, assess how well people are retaining their newfound knowledge and skills, and strategize so you can make training even better. However, that data can be a lot to comb through. You’re looking for those key indicators that can give you macro and micro views of the effect your training programs are having so you can reshape them to reach the widest possible audience.

Ultimately, it comes down to knowing your metrics, watching for trends, and bringing together the evidence so you can act on it.

Know Your Metrics

When it comes to metrics, there are a handful of key areas you can consider:

1. Program Usage: How many people participate? With what courses or content do they engage the most? Are you getting a good return on your learning investment?

2. Productivity: How quickly are new hires able to get up to speed? Depending on where you’re starting from, how does online onboarding compare with your previous approaches (in person, for example)? Do your current employees have the support they need to advance their competencies, helping them boost their own productivity?

3. Retention: Do learners stick with the programs? Are they excited about them? How successfully are they able to put their newfound knowledge and skills to work on the job?


4. Internal Promotion Rates: When it comes to filling vacant managerial positions, do you tend to recruit externally or promote internally? Is there a strategy in place for upskilling your teams? Benefits come with finding candidates within your organization, including being able to acclimate them quicker and leverage the unique familiarity they already have with your company.

5. Use of Outside Consultants: Do you rely on external consultants to handle key business needs? If so, are there opportunities to grow talent within your organization and bring that expertise in-house?

6. Calls to the Support Desk: Are your own employees enabled to use the tools at their disposal? If your team interacts with customers and users, how effectively are they able to handle questions and requests?

Keep in mind that the evidence you choose to focus on should reflect your needs, goals, and objectives. Of that list, which metrics are most applicable to your organization?


Watch for Trends

One of the first broad questions you want to be able to answer is whether your learners—members of your association, employees at your company, or users of your product—use the training programs you’re creating.

Data you may be able to use to answer that question include login data and activity reports. Let’s say, for example, that you have a cohort of new hires joining the company. As you’re monitoring logins and content access, you may notice a spike in activity that correlates with when they started. This tells you that these new hires are jumping into the onboarding process with enthusiasm. When the activity starts to trend down, that’s a sign that the new hires are just about finished with their initial round of learning and will be ready to phase into their next learning programs.

The other question you may have is how learners are engaging with the content. Some of the data you may be able to learn here could include the amount of time people are spending in courses and their completion rates.

If you’re evaluating a professional development program, you may look for something like a distribution graph that tells you whether employees are deeply or marginally engaged in your content. You can then drill down on those who may not be engaging as consistently in order to better understand why and re-engage them.

Bring It All Together

It’s important to emphasize that analytics capabilities will vary on a platform-by-platform basis. That’s why, when you’re evaluating your options, it’s important to consider how easy each solution makes it. Learning and development professionals are busy people. You need solutions that make it easy to comb through the numbers you’ve captured and spot patterns.

Better data that’s made quickly and easily accessible and is presented in meaningful terms can be invaluable to you and your business. The insights it gives you can help drive the right business decisions and avoid common pitfalls. Plus, it enables you to position and articulate the value of learning and development initiatives so you can demonstrate the effect and build a solid case to justify future investments.

About the Author

Haley WIlson is content marketing manager for D2L, specializing in corporate learning. She holds an honors Bachelor of Arts from the University of Guelph and a Master of Arts in history from Wilfrid Laurier University.

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