Engagement – it’s an incredibly important measure of success, but it can be very difficult to measure. That is particularly true within learning and development initiatives. Your LMS can deliver a lot of information, but connecting the dots to build out an accurate image of whether or not your learners are engaged is not so simple. Measuring learner engagement provides powerful insights to help you determine if your L&D efforts are paying off.
While challenging, measuring engagement within L&D is possible. It simply requires access to the right metrics. It also requires an understanding of why those metrics matter. In this post, we will discuss the key metrics for measuring learner engagement and why they matter to your L&D success.
What Is Learner Engagement?
Before we can discuss measuring learner engagement, it’s important that we can discuss it from a place of mutual understanding. So, what is it?
Learner engagement is really nothing more than the psychological investment your learners make in the learning process. That investment means that they take pride in progressing through the material, in passing tests, and in the retention of the information itself.
Engaged learners don’t learn just because it is required of them. They do so because they value the process and the results. Your learners want to understand what is being taught because they see how it improves their ability to perform and moves them forward in their careers.
With the definition out of the way, we must now turn our attention to measuring engagement. While it does require some outside the box thinking, it is not as difficult as you might assume.
Diving into the Metrics
Below, you will find a breakdown of the many metrics that can be used to measure learner engagement. However, understand that each organization will need to take a customized approach. The metrics that matter most to you may not be as relevant to another business simply because of the drastic differences possible between learning and development initiatives. For instance, if you rely heavily on pre-made content within an LMS, your metrics of value will be very different from an organization that focuses on augmenting its LMS with curated content delivered by email.
One measure of engagement is the rate of signup or the amount of interest shown in your courses. Pre-learning engagement is important to measure because it helps you gauge what will be of the greatest interest to your learners. However, it’s not just about topics. It’s also about the delivery system (animation, video, etc.), and how those fit with people’s learning styles. Take a cue from digital marketing and do some preemptive A/B testing with different formats, types, and combinations to see what drives the most interest with your learners, and then base your further decisions on those findings.
Once you’ve laid the groundwork, it’s time to move on to completion/drop-out rates. The higher the completion rate, the more engaged your learners are. The lower your drop-out rates, the better the engagement. However, these can vary dramatically across different parts of your company, so measure them on a team, department, and organization level to get a better indication of whether the content is really engaging your learners. Note that drop-out rates are sometimes higher with online content than offline content, simply because it’s pretty difficult to opt-out of a classroom, while it’s not so hard to click the close button within an LMS.
Track Active Users
Another important metric to measure is your number of active users. This gives you access to information about how many people are actively participating in courses within the Learning Management System, and it’s helpful to check on both a weekly and monthly basis. However, you also need to account for mitigating circumstances. For instance, you might notice that one month’s numbers are much lower than expected, only to learn that an entire department had to pause their learning and development to handle a critical project. Always balance your active user numbers with an understanding of what’s going on throughout the organization that might affect L&D outside of people simply being disengaged with your content.
Measure Voluntary Courses
You will want to measure completion rates and progress with mandatory courses, certainly. However, those will not give you a real indication of engagement. Your learners are required to complete them, so there’s no choice. The material could be as disengaging as possible, but they must still complete the course. A better option, at least for measuring engagement, is to track progress with voluntary courses. These are areas of self-led learning and can tell you a great deal about whether your learners are actively engaged or not.
Any modern LMS will give you the ability to track time spent on modules and courses. That is a handy feature to have to judge whether someone is having problems with the content. However, it does little good when measuring engagement. For that, you will want to measure time spent learning – how much time does an employee spend learning across the entire system? The more often they engage with the LMS, the more engaging your content is.
Perhaps the single most valuable tip we’ll cover is this: ask for feedback from your learners. You can do this in several ways, including using surveys, polls, and even less formal options. Learner feedback is the best way to really determine what sort of experience you’re providing, where it can be improved, and what you’re doing well. It can also give you insight into what employees might want to see more of, and what they would be interested in learning in the first place.
Finally, make sure that you’re measuring the percentage of employees using the knowledge and skills they gained in their daily activities. This can be gauged through observation, but also through employee surveys and questionnaires.
Learner engagement is a critical consideration and it does not have to be difficult to measure. Use the metrics above to delve into your learner experience and make any changes necessary to provide the most engaging content possible.