What Types of Learning Analytics Should your Training Provider Offer?

Posted by Douglas Carlson on January 8, 2019

When you select a training and education program for your staff, you're looking for more than ways to upskill employees. You're looking for a training partner who can help you realize a positive return on investment for your efforts. By using the right learning analytics, you can not only monitor the effectiveness of your training programs, but also improve them over time. A quality training partner will help you by offering valuable learning analytics data.

What are learning analytics

Use of learning analytics started in the classroom as a way to help teachers improve outcomes for their students. By understanding what the student had learned, they could evaluate teaching methods and uncover student learning gaps. Teachers have done this informally for decades, but learning analytics provide a formalized framework and data driven support for their observations.

Collecting student performance, learning and outcomes data became possible at scale with the advent of digital learning. Data is the bedrock of information technology. Tracking student performance and uncovering areas for targeted improvement is easier and more actionable when student learning is done mostly or entirely online.

Programs can gather data about the student without the student even being aware that an assessment is taking place. It's a smoother, more streamlined version of the teacher's intuitive approach to curriculum improvement. Data helps instructors and learning partners make connections that the human brain simply does not have the resources to make at large scale.

As businesses hired learning partners with online learning capabilities, learning analytics made the jump from the academic to the corporate arena. Now employers use learning analytics to monitor employee progress and ensure that they're earning a positive ROI on their training and upskilling investment. Employers can also use analytics to enable themselves to learn more about their current workforce, their employee's skills, and abilities.

Why do you need them

For businesses, keeping an eye on learner analytics can help assess return on investment. You can use the analytics to gauge the effectiveness of a particular program or curriculum. Learning analytics can also help you identify areas where employees still need to improve. With that information in hand, you and your learning partner can create a training program that is both effective and responsive to changing employee needs and objectives.

The best learning partners will supply learning data and frame how to interpret and act upon the insights from the data. They know their programs work, so they're not afraid to share the data with you. Steer clear of any learning partner who is unable or unwilling to provide learning analytics.

Both your organization and its employees benefit from the use of learner analytics. You will develop well-trained, knowledgeable, and happier employees without wasting time or money, while also generating more accurate learning profiles of your workforce. Meanwhile, your employees acquire new knowledge and skills that can be valuable throughout their careers.

Without learning analytics, it's possible that you'll spend time and money on a program that doesn't work for employees or employers, or one that works, but too slowly to be truly useful. For example, some programs might seem fun and engaging, but the actual skills being taught are so buried in the entertainment, that employees don't actually retain them. On the other hand, a program can seem like it is straight and to the point, but is not engaging, causing learners to tune-out and stop before mastering the skills. Keeping an eye on learner analytics solves these problems, and provides many other insights.

Which learning analytics are essential

Institutions of higher education have a broad definition of learning analytics that might include student enrollment, student retention, progression, completion rates, curriculum assessments and more. For the purposes of the average business, learner analytics are a little more simplified. You're asking and answering some basic questions about your employee learners:

  • Are they learning what we need them to learn?
  • Are they doing so efficiently?
  • Are they sticking with the program to the end? If not, when and why are they dropping out, and what skills have they learned during their engagement period?
  • Does the benefit justify the cost, and what can be adjusted to enhance results?

To answer these questions your learning partner should track efficiency, effectiveness and outcomes of the programs they provide.

A Shared Responsibility

Gathering and interpreting data about learners and programs is a shared responsibility. Your learning partner will gather and should share information with you, but it's up to you to collect your own data as well.

You should expect your learning partner to provide data on the following:

  • Program cost-how much are you spending on their programs and services?
  • Utilization rates-how many employees are using the training opportunities they provide?
  • Employee engagement-how many employees stick with the program to the end and at what point do those who drop out leave the program?
  • Skills acquisition-which skills have employees proven mastery of through testing and program completion?

There are also some learning analytics that you will need to gather for yourself, these include:

  • Manager support-how well is your leadership team embracing the new training method? Are they supportive or standing in the way of progress? Why?
  • Learning outcomes-have employees learned what you needed them to learn? Do they seem more competent and more confident on the job?
  • Program value-track increases in revenue, increased profit, employee retention or increased efficiency. Is your new employee development program responsible for them?
  • Employee satisfaction-what impact is the program having on employee retention, engagement, and/or employment elevation (e.g. raise, promotion, improvement in shift schedule, etc)?

How to gather data

There are several ways you can, and should, gather information on learning analytics. Sources include your learning partner, your employees, management staff, and business records.

  • Have your learner partner provide learning analytics. Your partner should be ready and willing to provide learning analytics on program cost, utilization rates, employee engagement, and skills acquisition.
  • Survey employees before, during, and after training. Start with a baseline understanding of what employees know before training starts. That way, you'll have something to compare against when they complete the program. Your training partner may be able to help with this as well.
  • Talk to management staff. Your front line management staff is in a unique position to observe the impact of employee learning first hand. Although they probably can't give you hard data, they can give you an overall impression of how employees have improved over time.
  • Investigate your numbers. Look at revenue, quality assurance, customer satisfaction and other key metrics. You should see improvement in some or all of these areas as employees learn new skills.

You can look at data in detail or simply create an overview of employee progress. It all depends on what your business needs at the time.

A true partner in employee development

Penn Foster uses learning analytics to help you identify the right employee development solutions from their extensive portfolio and then tailors them to meet your unique training needs. Penn Foster programs can be delivered online or in a blended learning environment to supply your employees with the skills to advance their careers and improve overall business performance. Start building  your customized employee development program today.