Quick: if you had to say what the most important learning metric is for your online course… what would you say?
Chances are you’d say “course completion rates“, but this is not the only or best online learning metric to use when evaluating how effective your courses are.
According to a survey conducted on Learning Measurement 2016: Little Linkage to Performance by the Brandon Hall Group:
Course completion rate is the number one metric being used, and by a wide margin. This is clearly the easiest metric to gather, but it doesn’t really tell an organization much about the success of the course. If 98% of learners complete a course, you still have no idea if it was effective, if they liked it, if they will remember it, or if it will help the business.
The more strategic measurements are much further down the list, like team effectiveness or time to effectiveness.
Why Learning Metrics Matter for Your Online Courses
Your ability to track and analyze the key learning metrics for online courses affects almost everything, from the success of current students to the future growth capabilities of your program. There are many advantages of e-learning, but it’s up to you to maximize the results for your customers in this lifecycle stage.
If you’re selling training to companies, for example, your executive clients will want to know whether or not the course was worth their investment. If you’re not keeping track of the metrics for their team members, how can you prove it to them?
The 4 Primary Learning Metrics to Measure for Your Online Courses
As an online educator and course creator, these are the four highest leverage learning metrics you can track. (Obviously, we all go data-crazy but these 4 will help you sleep well at night without overworking yourself.)
1. Student Progress
Tracking student progress on a lesson or module basis might not be the most important metric on its own. However, it will give you valuable data to work with as you start diving deeper into your data.
On a basic level, students who progress through your course consistently and at a good pace are most likely engaged and invested in your course material.
After all, the benefits of an LMS for students start with the first time a student logs into your course platform or learning management system. If you can’t get them to come back, then you’ve already lost the learning metrics game.
Good news though, even if this metric isn’t where you want it to be right now, it doesn’t have to stay that way.
How to Track
Presumably, with your learning management system you’re already tracking progress in your ecourse.
If so, you can use your built-in LMS plugin reporting tools, like a training reporting dashboard, to see at a glance what your engagement numbers are–and where students start dropping off.
- Improving your onboarding sequence, to help students achieve a high level of commitment early on in the course
- Creating a reminder automation, so students are automatically reminded to log in and finish the course material.
- Connect with your students 1-1, so you can find out why they’re getting stuck – and how you can help them get back on track.
2. Learner Competency
When all’s said and done, do your students actually benefit from your online course or training program? Do they walk away with a mastery of the material you’ve included in the course?
If you’re promising a certain level of expertise – or offering a certification – this is a serious issue to address.
The future growth and success of your online course or training program will be judged ultimately on how well your students perform “in the field” after graduation. If they’re not successful it can be a poor reflection on your certification program.
How to Track
There are a few different ways to monitor the competency of your students throughout the course, including:
Quizzes are made for testing learner competency, and can be used as a pass/fail metric to force students to master each lesson’s material before moving on.
Quality of homework submissions
Open-ended homework requirements are another great way to monitor how well the students grasp course material.
When using homework submissions, course instructors can give personalized feedback to help each student overcome roadblocks, leading to higher success rates for individual learners.
If you’re struggling with low quiz scores and less-than-impressive homework submissions, there are a few areas to look into for improvement:
- Review progress stats, to identify any course lessons where your students might be getting stuck
- Increase checkpoints with students (more quizzes, homework, etc.) so you can pinpoint the area of difficulty
- Hold office hours or live sessions in a Facebook group or via Zoom to answer questions
3. Instructor Effectiveness
The hard truth is that some students will struggle with course material because of how it’s set up and/or presented.
Even the best classroom instructors might waver a bit when presenting their first online course or learning program…or struggle to engage with students at a level they need to succeed. Others are natural and effective online teachers, and can deliver impressive courses.
How to track
Fortunately, the warning signs are usually fairly easy to discern:
- Learner competency – if students are having difficult mastering the material, they might have low quiz scores, infrequent engagement in forums, or might stop logging into the course altogether.
- Student reviews – watch for negativity towards course layout or the instructor’s ability
- Instructor’s responses to questions – are they attentive and knowledgeable in their responses?
Unlike the grade school classroom, if an online course instructor is mediocre, students can choose to go elsewhere…and ask for a refund on their way out. Help your students and instructors to get back on the same page:
- Require instructors to follow guidelines (availability for students, resources, etc.)
- Run a beta launch to review all course materials before they’re given to students
- Address recurring concerns 1-1 with the instructor, if necessary
- Offer professional e-learning resources to help your instructors teach effectively online
4. Customer Satisfaction
When your students walk away from the course, are they happy with their experience?
Customer satisfaction is extremely important and provides balance to the competency metric. (i.e. a student might love the course but not be an “expert” after completing it….or they might have learned it all, but hated the whole process).
How to Track
Tracking the customer satisfaction for online courses is identical to the customer happiness tracking you’re already doing for the other parts of your business:
- Track the percentage of course students who become repeat customers, purchasing more products and courses from your business
- Use post-course questionnaires to find out how (and why) your course students rate their experience
- Include a net promoter score survey mid-course to gather quantitative and qualitative feedback
- Track the ratings & reviews of your online courses on external sites and forums
- Track whether your students are referring new clientele to you
If your students aren’t happy, find out what’s going on ASAP:
- Read & listen to negative reviews, to spot any recurring trends or issues
- Reach out 1-1 to as many students as possible to learn why they’re dissatisfied
- Ask your students during the course what they would like to see improved, instead of waiting until the end to hear that it just didn’t work out
It’s Time to Start Tracking Learning Metrics for Your Online Courses
Tracking and analyzing the right learning metrics is a “must” if you’re selling online courses. Though there are many ways to measure training effectiveness, the training metrics examples in this article should help you prioritize which are the most helpful for your business.
From there, you have a strong starting point to start improving success rates – and your bottom line.