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How do you evaluate the success of your Learning Management System?

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“Tell me and I forget
Teach me and I remember
Involve me and I learn”

Benjamin Franklin

The 19th-century German psychologist, Hermann Ebbinghaus, identified that humans forget newly memorized information at an alarming rate and may lose close to 70% in as little as 24 hours. Delivering an L&D strategy via an LMS is typical in today’s workplace, but how can you show that this is leading to genuine transformational change that reduces costs and improves productivity and revenue?

Usage data of an LMS is an easy figure to ascertain, but simple metrics such as numbers of logins or time on site gives little qualitative data as to how much learning has been transferred. In-built assessment features may give some indication of performance, but this may be misleading in terms of long-term embedding of skills particularly when they are incorporated as the end module in a block of learning. Retention of those acquired skills may decline dramatically shortly after the course has been completed. If so, then assessing real transformational change becomes harder to measure.

All learning needs to be designed with measurable performance goals in mind. Learning goals may be esoteric whilst performance goals should be in the form of clearly defined desired outcomes which can be assessed, observed, or measured. Scenario based exercises give learners the chance to demonstrate their skills and decision making and explore any weaknesses.

The skill set requirements of your learners must be pre-determined. Clearly defined skills matrices allow the evaluation of pre and post training skill sets. Skill sets can be evaluated through simulation exercises, on the job performance or reviews from management. A well thought out simulation exercise may be  a more objective measure compared to management observation.

Performance goals should show how knowledge translates to real-life action. For example, can learners apply their knowledge to a given situation. Decision making skills based on acquired knowledge are the real test of learning.

The COVID-19 pandemic has had an unprecedented impact on how organisations operate and the way they upskill their staff. Remote learning has many plus points such as accessibility and convenience, particularly when considered in relation to for individual learning.

Team based social learning through collaboration and discussion is acknowledged as providing greater levels of subject understanding and retention compared to individual learning. Many LMS platforms may lack facilities for social learning, thus, inhibiting their effectiveness.

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Individual and team learning has to be embedded in a top-down organisational culture of learning. There are many benefits of creating a high impact learning culture that has a deep impact on behaviour. Growth will be fostered through greater innovation and employee motivation. A greater capacity to solve problems can lead to a more adaptable and transformative culture. Higher skills should lead to greater productivity. Ultimately, improved performance should reduce costs and improve profitability and external customer satisfaction. Proper evaluation of an LMS is, therefore, critical in analysing its contribution to business efficiency.

Experiential learning that promotes critical thinking, decision-making and collaboration is the next step for delivering behavioural change, improving team and leadership performance and delivering a proven return on investment.