An eLearning course is only as good as the results it produces. If users aren’t gaining anything from it, there’s a lot of hard work gone to waste. You’ll need to make sure you’ve got an effective way to track progress and make sure you are delivering quality content. The methods used to assess learners will depend on the difficulty and complexity of the material.
It’s a good idea to start with the end goal in mind and think about the project brief. Is this course simply a refresh of important information, or will users be taught something new completely? The course might look to simply give someone a solid foundation of a particular topic, or it might be used as part of an accreditation process to ensure employees can carry out their job effectively. The degree to which learners need to understand the content will indicate which methods of assessment and progress tracking would be most suitable.
Multiple choice quizzes at the end of each module are the simplest way to check-in and make sure people are following the content – or at the very least paying attention! This type of assessment will measure how well information has been retained, and also acts as a secondary method of learning through repetition of previous material. Even if your course is relatively short, a few questions at the end of each sub-topic can be beneficial to point out areas for improvement.
You might decide to supplement this with a more difficult test or exam-type method if the course is meant to develop practical knowledge. With mass-learning courses you’ll need to generally avoid open-ended questions as these can prove difficult to mark and track progress. As a side note though you could use them and open them up to peer-review, bringing in a new method of teaching as users learn from each other. One word or numerical answers however can be tested, helping to increase the difficulty of assessment.
Using real-life simulations is an excellent way to get users to really apply their learning and think on their feet. Online scenario-based testing is frequently used in job applications as an effective way to test individual’s core values and behaviours. It can sound complicated, but in reality this can be delivered in a short video followed by multiple choice questions. This will gauge whether the learner has understood the process and knows how to apply it properly rather than just absorbed the information. These methods of assessment are really important for learners and can improve engagement and motivation.
Tracking progress is essential to the development of future eLearning material and of you as an L&D professional. Having quantified results will help you spot room for improvement, and how you can serve learners better. Your learning management system should capture all relevant data – make use of these analytics tools to refine content. If users are consistently getting 100% in one module assessment, maybe you need to increase the difficulty. If they are achieving 50%, then perhaps the content is not clear.
When working with subject matter experts (or doing your own research) it would be helpful to make a list of key learning outcomes, and what level of understanding is required. From here you could get some good insight into common skills gaps and ensure you focus on important topics.
It’s common for learners to have different backgrounds and levels of experience. While you’d expect university students to all have a similar base knowledge, this can vary greatly in a work environment. Using an assessment at the beginning of the course will help to quantify progress made if compared to an assessment at the end. The greater the difference, the higher the value of the course. These must test very similar (if not identical) topics if they are going to be measurable, however.
Don’t be afraid to ask for direct feedback from learners at the end of course material via your learning management system. As with other course results, the LMS can track this feedback and provide useful data should you wish to gain this level of insight. Ultimately, learners will know best whether they have achieved what they expected. Another option – though more time consuming – is to follow up with learners periodically after completing the course. Are they better equipped to do their job? Did the course cover relative topics that they use on a daily basis?
Progress tracking is just as important for you as it is for the learner. There is some real insight to be gained from regular assessments, and these analytics are readily available through your learning management system. Keep in mind the level of knowledge users will begin with, and how much they need to improve by the end. The size of the jump will reflect the how you measure their journey through the course.