Professional dilemmas

Can you give me any tips on evaluating how successful an e-learning
programme has been with the workforce?

Expected outcomes should be clearly defined and agreed from the beginning
and key performance indicators established. Whatever performance criteria used,
it must measure an important business benefit.

Dr Donald Kirkpatrick developed a four-level approach to training evaluation
which captures the key elements to consider. In essence it recommends
evaluating: i) reaction – did the learners like the training? ii) learning –
what knowledge skills and attitudes have been understood and absorbed? iii)
behaviour – the impact of the training on performance and iv) results – has it
made a difference to business performance?

Quantitative data is also useful. How many learners are registered on the
system, for example? What are the most popular courses? But be wary of putting
too much emphasis on completion rates. E-learning is designed to be accessed as
the learner needs it, not necessarily studied from beginning to end. And if you
are comparing drop-off rates of e-learning and classroom training, remember it
is not socially acceptable for learners to leave a classroom session if it is
not meeting their needs.

Test learners regularly via interactive exercises throughout the course. At
the end they should complete an online questionnaire.

Managers should observe learners’ performance back in the workplace. As
e-learning should meet an identified need, the transfer of learning ought to be

Wider performance feedback comes over a period of time. It may be apparent
in faster production runs, higher sales volumes, improved mystery shopper
results or a higher percentage of accredited staff

Focus groups can also be invaluable. Speak to those who have used the course
– what did they learn, like or dislike? Speak to those who have not accessed
e-learning. How can they be encouraged? Staying in touch gives a real insight
into what learners really need and want.

Response by Steve Dineen, CEO and founder of Fuel,

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