The last few months have seen a quick rise in online and virtual learning programs. The pandemic has brought a global change to learning setups, moving them all to a virtual model.
Despite this, it is imperative to measure and report the success of Virtual Learning programs to ensure that the participants and the other stakeholders see the value of such interventions. Failure to measure the impact of the learning program may cause the stakeholders, learners, and anyone else involved in the process to form their own opinions about the program. Very often, it is this perception that makes senior executives think that most virtual learning interventions are just a waste of time.
Here are five easy ways in which learning professionals can measure the success of their virtual programs at different levels:
- Capturing Reaction: Capturing participants’ reactions is very often the go-to technique for learning professionals in measuring a program’s success. Participants must fill a survey/questionnaire at the end of the program to indicate their opinions on the relevance and usefulness of the program to them. If the virtual platform offers the option, then such a survey/questionnaire can be created that the participants will receive at the end of a session on the learning platform itself. Otherwise, participants should be given the link to a survey/questionnaire that they have to complete at the end of the session.
- Measuring Learning: To fully understand the extent to which the participants have understood the content, one needs to measure the amount of learning achieved by each participant. Learning is usually measured by conducting an end-of-program assessment. These assessments could be online or offline, theoretical or hands-on, scenario-based or role-play, or any other kind of method deemed fit for the program.
- Checking Application: A learning program is successful if the learners apply the learnings gained at their jobs. The same goes for virtual learning programs as well. Virtual Learning programs should not end when the session is disconnected. Virtual Facilitators should continue to connect with the participants after the session and follow-up to check if learners apply the learnings as well. If there is an improvement in the learner performance, then it is a clear indicator of learning application and the benefit derived by it.
- Gauging Impact: To truly convince stakeholders of the success of a program, it is imperative to check and report the impact on business outcomes brought about by the application of learning. A well-designed learning program brings benefits to the business when participants apply their learnings. One should carefully gauge the benefits the program has brought to the business outcomes and report it to the stakeholders. Improvement in output or quality, reduction in cost or time consumed, increased customer or job satisfaction are some of the business indicators that help gauge impact.
- Calculating Return On Investment (ROI): Whenever possible, convert the learning impact on the business outcomes to a monetary value to derive the benefits from the program. These benefits, when compared to the fully-loaded cost of the learning program, provide us with the ROI of the program. The two measures most useful in describing the economic benefits of an online learning program are:
Benefit/Cost Ratio (BCR): Benefits/Cost
Return on Investment (ROI): Net Benefits/Cost x 100
Each of the techniques listed above gives output at a different level towards the success of a Virtual Learning program. Learning Professionals should decide at which level they would like to report the success of their programs. Virtual Learning programs with a high cost or business relevance should be measured and reported at higher levels. Measuring and reporting outcomes at different levels may seem like a daunting task, but when we apply the right model and principles, it becomes a part of the process. Stakeholders value processes/teams which are transparent, and reporting the success of your Virtual Learning programs will help go a long way in establishing credibility.
If you are interested in reading more about demonstrating the success of virtual learning, read the book Measuring the Success of Learning Through Technology written by Patti Phillips, Jack Phillips, and Tamar Elkeles, published by ATD. Alternatively, you could also develop skills to measure the success of virtual learning by registering for ATD's Measuring ROI Certificate program.