How to Employ Learning Analytics for Efficient Training Programs

Posted on
April 30, 2024
Billy Mike
from myQuest

You likely have multiple types of, and reasons for, training programs in your organization. From onboarding programs and training in new technology to leadership training and upskilling. While you may have many different programs, they all have one thing in common; you want to be sure that your programs are as efficient as possible. 

Of course, one of the major ways of gauging how good your training programs are is to collect qualitative feedback from the participants. But you will also collect quantitative data to supplement that information. Tying it all together usually involves learning analytics which can give you a good overview of how efficient these programs are. Just what is learning analytics and how do you use it to make your programs as good as possible?

What is learning analytics? 

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The Society for Learning Analytics Research defines LA (learning analytics) as “the measurement, collection, analysis and reporting of data about learners and their contexts, for purposes of understanding and optimizing learning and the environments in which it occurs.”

In many ways, LA is no different to the other analytics you might use. It’s a way of understanding the data you have collected to improve the process that provided the data. Your purpose is twofold: to validate any existing parts of the process that work well, and to identify areas of your programs that could be improved. 

You want your training programs to work well and to impart the knowledge and skills that will improve your workers’ contributions (through productivity and efficiency). You also want the workers to improve themselves, to learn new skills and knowledge, to learn about leadership, and so on. Any training programs must be engaging so that you and your workforce get the most benefits from them. 

To summarize, it’s about giving you insights as to how well your programs are working or where improvements need to be made. 

What are the benefits of learning analytics?

Image sourced from Finance Yahoo

To understand the benefits of learning analytics, you need to look from two different perspectives. The first is from your perspective as the business owner (or manager) or the learning provider where any learning is outsourced. The other perspective is that of the ‘students’, your workers who are undertaking training programs.

  1. You 
  • You can improve the teaching methods and the information contained in programs.
  • A better understanding of how your workforce learns. 
  • How personalization helps or hinders learning. 
  • Data-driven decisions as to any changes needing to be made.
  • The challenges faced by different methods such as remote or online learning
  • Insights into the performances of both students and educators. 

  1. Learners 
  • Content can be personalized to an individual’s capacity to learn. 
  • Changes are made where difficulties are regularly encountered. 
  • Customization of programs to allow learners to access content at their own pace. 
  • Greater autonomous access to learning. 

How to implement learning analytics with your learning programs 

There’s a good chance you’re using a dedicated learning platform or LMS (learning management system) which may have built-in analytics. A good platform that integrates with other systems you use can demonstrate the value of enterprise architecture. If you’re using an external learning provider for some or all of your training needs, they will also share data and any analytical reports they have. 

Whatever approach you are using, there are several steps to ensure that you are getting the best from learning analytics. 

  1. Goals 

Before you even consider the data, your first step is to understand and define what it is you want to achieve. Of course, the ultimate goal is to improve learning outcomes and equip your workforce with the skills and knowledge that help you achieve your strategic business goals. But to do that, you need to be sure that every aspect of your programs is optimized to meet your needs and those of your workforce. 

Some of the goals you might consider include: 

  • Measure levels of engagement in programs. 
  • Effectiveness of learning programs including individual modules.
  • Evaluate any learning/remote learning offered. 
  • Analyze learning outcomes. 

The thing to note is that there is no ‘one size fits all’. Different organizations will have different needs when it comes to learning programs but ultimately, you want to be able to see how well your programs work. Whether learning about a call center cloud system or learning new communication technology, you want to be sure that all the programs are effective. 

  1. Identify data sources

To properly evaluate learning programs, you need to source data from multiple places that are not always part of your program. For example, suppose employees learn how to use new machinery. In that case, you may want to source data relating to output and productivity as this relates both to the machinery itself and to the skills your staff have learned. 

Your learning platform (internal or external) will likely be the richest source of data available. What’s important to note is that you should unify your data into one large dataset that will make analytics more straightforward. Unified data means that you can:

  1. Identify and share benchmarks for different programs and modules. 
  2. Evaluate the effectiveness of different programs and learning methods. 
  3. Compare different types of content to see what learners prefer (a sort of educational A/B testing). 
  4. Implement personalization where needed and appropriate.

Your data sources may be varied but will usually include data from:

  • Any learning platform(s) used.
  • Your learning management system (LMS). 
  • Devices used for accessing training. 
  • Any enterprise-level systems used. 
  • Any relevant systems within your business such as sales figures.
  • Human resources systems. 
  • Third-party data where relevant. 

3. Sort your data

The world generates approximately 328.77 million terabytes of data every single day. While you might not be faced with quite that amount, you will collect a lot of data, some of which is useful and some which is useless, so it’s important to sort the wheat from the chaff. In this stage, you are looking to align the data you collect with your defined goals regarding your training programs (which in turn should be aligned with your strategic business goals). 

For effective analytics, you need data that relates to your overall goals. Did the programs lead to successful learning outcomes? Did the training lead to improvements in output or productivity? The questions you want answers to will dictate the data you want. 

4. Create a plan 

So, you now have defined goals and you also have identified data and sources. Now it’s time to tie them together in a plan similar to how you would use enterprise architecture planning

You want to create a process where there is an almost-continuous loop: collect the data and process it with analytics, make any changes needed that are identified by analytics, and then repeat the process again and again. While you may reach a point where you feel that your training programs are operating at optimal levels, you need to remember that things, and learning needs, can change over time.  

Part of the plan has to include the tools and technology that are going to aid you in the process. Your learning platform may have learning analytics capability which will make things easier but you may also (or instead) use popular analytics tools such as Tableau. 

You also need to think about reporting. As some of your decision makers may not be ‘fluent’ in data speak, think about visualization and other forms of reporting that can present insights in clear and easy-to-understand formats. The idea is to build (or create) the best training programs for your organization

If you lack in-house analytics expertise, you may even consider outsourcing the work to a specialist agency. While this may add to your costs, it can be a suitable solution, or even a stopgap solution, for businesses that lack the necessary resources. 

The takeaway 

Good training programs benefit your business by giving your workforce skills and knowledge to boost their efficiency and productivity. They also benefit the employees by enabling them to boost career progression through those skills. As with any process in your business, you’re not going to get things exactly right the first time and knowing what to keep and what to change (or replace) is essential. 

Analytics in any area of your business can give you valuable insights that lead to informed, data-driven decisions. With learning analytics, you can optimize and streamline your training programs so that they meet the needs of both business and the workforce. 

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