Evaluating Effective E-learning

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E-learning is evaluated in much the same way as traditional classroom based instruction. Evaluation should be captured on four levels: reaction – how much participants liked or disliked the e-learning experience, learning – how well participants retained the new knowledge encountered in the e-learning, behavior – how well participants transferred new knowledge to specific tasks, and finally, results – how well e-learning meets the instructional needs of your organization. Electronic platforms make capturing and storing this information much easier than in classroom based instruction. By tracking reaction, learning, and behavior outcomes, organizations can easily assess the impact of online training on important organizational outcomes.

Evaluation in e-learning does not differ considerably from evaluation in other forms of instructional design.

Evaluation is the process of seeking feedback and is particularly concerned with the performance of training participants after training is completed.  Based on Donald Kirkpatrick’s Four Levels of Evaluation, feedback is captured in regards to:

  • Reaction - How participants like the training
  • Learning - How much participants learned from the training
  • Behavior - How actual performance changed as a result of the training
  • Results - How well the training program overall met your organization’s needs 

An evaluation plan for an e-learning program is essential to determine if the course meets the stated goals and, if not, to determine what to revise. Evaluation provides the data needed to determine the effectiveness of a program so that stakeholders can decide whether to accept, change, or eliminate any or all of its components. Good evaluation involves specifying a set of criteria to be evaluated, identifying appropriate means to measure the criteria, and analyzing the results. It looks beyond the surface to make informed decisions regarding content topics, organization of content, delivery methods, and so on.

E-learning makes each level of evaluation very easy to capture.

Level one and two evaluations can be easily captured by online surveys. Level three evaluations can be conducted by follow-up surveys to participants and the people they work with at the organization. Level four evaluations can be a bit more difficult to conduct because they require isolating a control group along with the group that participated in the e-learning program. However, because level one, two, and three evaluations can be so easily captured and stored using electronic platforms, much of the initial work for conducting level four evaluations is already complete.

Click to open interactivity Level Four is not ROI

Level Four is not ROI

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