The Rapid Elearning Blog

Articulate Rapid E-Learning Blog - elearning success

At a recent workshop someone asked how to demonstrate that they were successful and that the courses they built made a difference to the organization.

That’s a good question, especially in this economy because the training group is usually one of the first groups targeted when an organization needs to make some cuts to the budget. So we want to make sure that we’re providing real value.

E-Learning is Hot

The good thing is that right now, even with the struggling economy, elearning is a hot industry. This makes sense. For the organization looking to make cuts and still offer training, elearning is a viable option because it can reduce costs.

Articulate Rapid E-Learning Blog - elearning is hot

It’s one of the points we discussed in this post on why elearning is so effective. On top of that, there’s a convergence of mobile devices and remote workers. So elearning is at the forefront of this convergence.

In that sense, if you build elearning courses, you’re in a good industry and probably don’t need to worry about cuts as much as in the past. But let’s get back to the original question about demonstrating value.

Getting a Paycheck is a Good Indication of Success

Often we spend too much time trying to figure out the ROI (return on investment) of our work when that’s already been determined by the organization because they created your position and filled it with you.

Articulate Rapid E-Learning Blog - a paycheck means success

Are you getting paid? If the answer is yes, then that’s one of the best ways to measure your value. If you aren’t valued, you’d probably not have a job. And in that sense, it’s less about you determining your ROI and more about providing the value the organization expects from you.

Are Your Courses Aligned to Real Business Goals?

A common solution to meeting business goals is to offer more training. But training doesn’t always meet the organization’s goals. So it’s important to understand the organization’s goals and know where the course fits in meeting them.

Often a client wants a course but isn’t quite clear how the course actually makes a difference, other than the fact that the learner gets exposed to additional information. I always try to drill down to the expected results. After someone takes this course, what do you expect them to do? And then follow that up with, how does this relate to your organization’s goals?

Articulate Rapid E-Learning Blog - align elearning courses to business goals

An elearning course is only a solution. Step away from the solution. Find out what the course is supposed to do and why that matters. It’s possible that you may talk the client out of an elearning project. That’s OK. You’ll save time and money by not creating a product that’s a waste of time and that adds real value.

What Type of Course Are You Building?

I put courses into one of two buckets. Is it about information or performance?

Information courses are more like marketing programs that promote awareness with no immediate performance expectations. They can also be performance support resources. They’re important to support performance requirements but they’re not necessarily focused on performance activities.

Some people suggest that all of these types of courses should become supporting documentation rather than an “elearning” course. That’s definitely a consideration. But with today’s tools building multimedia-based information is not any more difficult or expensive than building print documentation. So it’s just a matter or need and which solution meets it.

Articulate Rapid E-Learning Blog - what type of elearning course

Performance courses are focused on activities. Instead of pulling together a bunch of information, create decision-making activities that mirror the types of decisions the learner needs to make away from the courses and in the real world.

Once you understand the type of course you’re building, you can create one that offers the most value. For example, an information course may not require a lot of interactivity (which takes more time to build). And in the same sense a performance course usually needs more than dozens of bullet point screens. Understanding the type of course allows you to put your resources in a place where you get the most bang for the buck.

Are You Saving Time or Reducing Costs?

Many times you don’t have access to the types of metrics that really demonstrate the course’s effectiveness. Or you may have to build things like annual refresher training where the metrics can be a bit fuzzy. If that’s your situation, then a great way to demonstrate value is to focus on the production process and determine where you can reduce cost or save time.

Articulate Rapid E-Learning Blog - save time and money

  • Price out the cost of your courses if you were to hire them out. Then compare those costs to yours.
  • Another metric is the difference between face-to-face training and offering the same online.

You may not always be able to state what the course accomplished, but you’ll definitely be able to state that what you provided was cost-effective.

Is Your Customer Satisfied?

While this doesn’t necessarily measure the effectiveness of the training it is still a legitimate measurement. When I start a project I negotiate a service level agreement with my client. Part of it details expectations, timelines, and outcomes.

Articulate Rapid E-Learning Blog - customer satisfaction

At the end of the project, I forward this to the client to remind them that we successfully met the agreement. I try to do this right away while things are still fresh. If you wait until the end of the year, they’ll either not respond (because they’re too busy) or they tend to skew the feedback because they either want to seem balanced or they can’t recall exactly how the project concluded. You can avoid a lot of that by proactively collecting feedback.

As you can see, there a number of ways to prove your value and demonstrate success. You may not completely understand the ROI, but your customer does. When I hire the neighbor kid to mow my lawn I don’t expect him to email me a spreadsheet detailing everything he did. I just want to know the lawn’s taken care of.

In the same sense, you were hired to build a course. If you delivered it on time and to your customer’s satisfaction then trust that because you still have a job, you’re proving your value.

What are some things you’d recommend to the elearning developer that wants to know if they’re successful or not? Add your thoughts by clicking on the comments link.


Free E-Learning Resources

Want to learn more? Check out these articles and free resources in the community.

Here’s a great job board for e-learning, instructional design, and training jobs

Participate in the weekly e-learning challenges to sharpen your skills

Get your free PowerPoint templates and free graphics & stock images.

Lots of cool e-learning examples to check out and find inspiration.

Getting Started? This e-learning 101 series and the free e-books will help.

12 responses to “5 Ways to Demonstrate Your E-Learning Success”

[…] de e-learning que quiere saber si tiene éxito o no? Añade tus comentarios haciendo clic en el enlace. Share this:TwitterFacebookMe gusta:Me gustaSe el primero en decir que te […]

[…] What are some things you’d recommend to the elearning developer that wants to know if they’re successful or not? Add your thoughts by clicking on the comments link. […]

…and if you are a contractor/freelancer, the company shows that it values what you do and rates it a success, by THEIR measures, (sometimes unseen by you….), if they come back and hire you again for further work!

Great article.

December 11th, 2012

One of the easiest ways to show ROI is built into most eLearning programs … produce a demonstration version, then repurpose that as an assessment. You will probably find that people that watch the demo usually pass the assessment (of course!).

Now compare that to how well people retain the same information when presented in other forms (give them the online assessment, too) and you will see a dramatic difference.

It seems pretty obvious that would be the case, but it makes for a nice set of numbers that ‘the suits’ can use to justify your cost.

December 11th, 2012

I’m curious to learn more about what type of feedback you ask for after the conclusion of the project. I like your suggestion of forwarding the service level agreement to your client after to remind them that we successfully met the agreement. But what are you asking when you proactively collect feedback? Thanks!

@Sarah: Good question. I’m interested in feedback relative to the delivery agreement. Did I meet the agreed upon goals within the time frame? Are there things we can do better next time? etc.

At previous places, we’d collect 360 feedback at the end of the year. What happens is that the project is old. Over time, people may change their perspective on the project. That change ends up in the feedback. I also find that in 360 feedback people tend to balance positive and negative. Sometimes they create negative comments that get amplified because it’s in the feedback.

By being proactive, you can control the type of feedback and get it when it’s most appropriate and related to the agreement and not based on fuzzy memory.

I prefer to collect feedback right away when it’s fresh.

[…] on Share this:TwitterFacebookLike this:LikeBe the first to like this. Published: December 12, 2012 […]

“When I start a project I negotiate a service level agreement with my client…”

Tom, where can I find some good examples of SLA’s for elearning projects?

I love your graphics – very professional, and right on the spot.