We’re all familiar with the value of data. These days, it’s almost impossible to read an article about the future of any industry without hearing about the transformative power of data — and that also includes eLearning analytics.
Yet here’s the unvarnished truth: Harvesting more information is great, but it’s only half the battle. In order to reap full value, you must glean actionable insights from the mounds of data you’re collecting. You need the expertise to analyze and synthesize the numbers, in order to draw useful conclusions. In essence, you need to find the gold nuggets buried in the slush pile.
The world of eLearning is no different. In the early days of the field, data collection was an enormous challenge. That’s no longer an issue — technology has advanced to the point that virtually every bit of information can be tracked and analyzed – both in a virtual classroom and self-paced video courses. While this flood of data offers extraordinary opportunity; the raw size of it can overwhelm, causing us to lose sight of the very real benefits of analytics.
Given this challenge, we decided to take some time to detail the best way to harness the power of eLearning analytics to improve learning design, content, and delivery.
1. ELearning analytics: Improve learning design
If a learning or training session fails to meet expectations, it’s easy to point the finger at the perceived shortcomings of the instructor. Or, alternatively, blame is sometimes shifted onto students for not being receptive to the material.
The truth, however, is that an unsuccessful session isn’t always the fault of the parties involved. Sometimes the very design of the program is poorly conceived, and it sets up everyone for failure. Even the best instructors and the brightest students can struggle to overcome content that is poorly structured and inadequately presented. To assure the best possible learning outcomes, good design is essential.
- What does the concept of design entail?
Let’s pause for a second to talk about what the concept of design entails. It’s not simply the courseware, but rather a comprehensive description of various teaching scenarios. We’re talking about a complete picture of the experiences had by both instructors and students. This typically includes information about:
- the specific learning activities involved,
- the environment in which lessons are implemented, and
- the overall pedagogical style employed.
Given the complexity involved, making significant improvements to design might seem a tall order. Yet eLearning analytics make it possible. They are a powerful tool allowing you to quickly assess how instructors’ and students’ experiences can be refined and improved. Learning analytics offer deep insights into:
- the preferences of learners,
- the progress they make,
- the activities they prefer, and
Ultimately, the better you understand your students, the more successful they’ll be. Insights and analytics are the most powerful tools we have for achieving that level of understanding — and both are key to designing better sessions.
2. ELearning analytics: Design successive (advanced or secondary) lessons based on data
Here’s a fundamental rule we forget too often:
If you want to know why something isn’t working in business or education, ask the intended audience.
Feedback is a critical step toward refining a product or service until it produces the desired outcome. This truism certainly applies to eLearning. So, how do you go about it?
- Collect data of the previous course. Data harvested from previous or even current courses are extremely valuable in terms of improving the user experience on the next course.
- Review this information which will key you into how your learners prefer to engage with the material. It lets you know which methods work best, and which approaches truly resonate with learners.
- If there is something that your audience absolutely can’t stand, analytics help you sidestep that minefield.
This feedback, when taken as a whole, creates a road map to more efficient and effective courses. As you create advanced or secondary options, you’ll benefit from the insights generated from earlier sessions. Incorporating these insights has a cumulative effect over time, allowing for continual improvement and refinement.
3. ELearning analytics: Harness the power of personalized experiences
The idea of personalized learning has been at the forefront of educational thinking over the last decade. Schools and universities have adopted programs and practices designed to help students interact with the material on a more personal level. The benefits of this approach are numerous. The most important benefit, however, is that it improves learner performance.
- ELearning analytics give you the ability to design a personalized experience. Insights generated from the data can help you tailor a lesson to meet a student’s specific strengths and weaknesses.
- If a learner is repeatedly failing to complete the material within the time limits of a session, that learner is struggling with the content. A less advanced lesson may be needed.
- Additionally, lessons featuring greater customization or personalization are an excellent way to spark and maintain learner engagement. Higher engagement means that learners will take a more active role in their own training and education, which can free up instructors to devote critical resources to other areas.
4. ELearning analytics: A window into instructor performance
The instructor’s role in any educational venture is undeniably critical. Great instructors can deliver superior results even in a sub-optimal environment. Poor instructors, on the other hand, can quite easily inhibit student success.
Yet how do we ensure that instructors are evaluated accurately? Unless you’re physically present in the room for the duration of every session, you’ll never have the whole picture. That’s one reason analytics are so useful in this regard. Analytics provide a data-supported window into instructor performance. An administrator can gather a wide number of data points:
- total enrollment in a given course,
- course completion numbers,
- student participation,
- student attendance, and
- feedback about instructors.
These numbers help paint a picture of overall instructor performance that doesn’t simply rely on anecdotal reports or small sample size-based personal impressions.
Instructors, too, benefit from this approach. Those who produce excellent outcomes will have their case supported by data, while instructors who are lagging in one area can use this information to identify and rectify any problem areas.
5. ELearning Analytics: Track the overall success of your program
As long as you have the ability to glean actionable insights from your data without getting overwhelmed — in other words, your signal to noise ratio isn’t out of whack — more information is always better. This certainly applies to learning analytics. The right analysis gives you a bird’s eye view of the overall performance of your program.
Analytics offer insight into your entire history of courses — whether they are old, new, currently live or even deleted. Course reports can be downloaded and analyzed in order to determine student preferences, and how those preferences have changed over time.
Taken as a whole, these reports are an extremely useful indicator of the overall success of your learning program.
Like virtually every industry, the era of Big Data has revolutionized the field of learning. Yet one significant hurdle is ever present:
“How to unlock the latent power of all that data without drowning in a massive pool of information?”
To truly reap the benefits, it’s not enough to generate more data. You need a tool that analyzes information and delivers actionable insights. That’s the promise of eLearning analytics. By leveraging the power of analytics, you can reap the following benefits in content and delivery:
- Better course design. If a lesson fails, it’s not always due to an instructor or student shortcoming. Improved design drives learner engagement, and it renders superior outcomes.
- Data-enhanced secondary or advanced courses. These successive sessions are enhanced and informed by the information collected during the initial session, leading to more effective and engaging content.
- More personalization. There’s a reason why personalized learning is such a popular phrase in education circles. Learners who are struggling to keep pace can draw enormous benefits from a more customized approach, easing the resource strain on instructors.
- Instructor performance analysis. Instructors are a critical element to student success, so it’s critically important to evaluate them accurately and fairly. Analytics provide a data-driven window into instructor performance, which helps administrators identify and correct any problem areas.
- Program success tracking. Analytics offer an objective yardstick to measure the ultimate progress of a learning initiative. By reviewing past and present course reports, administrators can gauge how well a program is working and identify potential areas of improvement.
These are just five of the core benefits of eLearning analytics. If you’re interested in getting the most from your training or educational program, we suggest you consider harnessing the very real power of learning analytics.
However, in order to be able to do this, your online learning delivery platform must have an integrated eLearning analytics feature. This would help track the effectiveness of your content and the efficiency of your online content delivery mechanism. WizIQ understands how important analytics are to your online learning business, and thus, has a built-in eLearning analytics component. You may want to check out what all data you can gather with it.