In a recent OpenSesame webinar, Cushing Anderson, IDC’s IT Education and Certification Research Program Vice President, shared his research of the characteristics and practices of 250 organizations and their use of elearning. Anderson outlines that having the right amount of courses and implementing an elearning program is not a guarantee of success. The success of top performing companies is directly linked to the strategy they tie the elearning program to, how they measure success along the way, and, lastly, the tailoring of programs and courses to achieve their desired results.
While some businesses may focus on how many vendors they utilize for elearning, Anderson asserts that the main focus should be on the amount of courses offered to each learner. The more courses that an organization provides, the greater percentage of employees are taking courses they need or want. Research shows that when learners have access to courses they know they will benefit from immediately, (Microsoft Excel skills course, for example), the more likely they are to continue to take more classes each year, and increasingly more each year after that.
Importance of measurement
The ultimate objective should always be to achieve an observable outcome within the business to measure success. In learning and development, examples of success could be an attitude shift, increased employee engagement, or achieved sales goals.
In a live poll during the webinar, 40% of attendees said they currently measure success of learning programs based on participant feedback. Meanwhile, 29% measured penetration/utilization and another 29% focused on the application of learning on the job. Very few said sponsor feedback or managerial support was an indicator of success of an elearning program.
Anderson explained why different measurement strategies need to be equally considered and what influencers to consider when evaluating success of elearning programs.
Getting executive sponsorship: Executive sponsorship allows someone to be responsible for the desired outcome for the company. It helps a learning program stay on track and show accountability for establishing a target outcome.
Content links to objective: The right content will truly make the right impact. Does not matter how big the library is; the content needs to connect to the measurable goal for learners and the business.
Learners need to consume courses: Know why your learners take courses, or why they aren’t taking courses. Is it a technical issue? An accessibility issue? Does management need to be more or less involved? There is always ‘why’ for a learner to be consuming or not consuming that can be key to the overall growth of the program.
Reinforcing learning: This requires manager commitment. Research shows that there is a very large impact on the overall value of the learning program when learners have support and encouragement from their manager. This requires training the manager on how to reinforce learning and support employees.
Learning linked to strategy: As mentioned earlier, learning should always contribute to a meaningful, observable outcome. By showing contribution, learning will eventually become part of how a business expects to achieve its objectives. For top performing companies, when learning was linked to a specific strategy, there was a 32% increase in employee performance and 38% gain in employee productivity.
Measurement will help more companies achieve greater outcomes from their learning programs. Anderson also remarked that the greater number of courses offered helps achieve the greatest number of outcomes for the company.
To learn about the top performing companies in elearning, watch the webinar recording here.