Online testing is the best way to understand the true value of an L&D program within an organization. Implementing any sort of training program is not worth the time and money if you do not know how this training should, will, and is affecting your productivity and profits. Rather than guessing at the success of an online or blended training program, the most concrete way to determine the retention, usage, and understanding of students’ training is through online testing.
Why Does L&D Matter?
To understand how critical online testing to measure information retention and training usage is to your organization, you first need to know why L&D matters in the first place. Why do learning and development make a difference? Can’t you expect the same level of success with or without that training?
First, understand that you may need to provide any of several types of training to your employees. For example, mandatory all organizations require corporate training by law. This type of L&D covers topics like workplace safety and workplace diversity. It’s about more than just ticking a box to show compliance, though.
You need to make sure that your employees understand the material they’re learning, or you risk creating a corporate culture that doesn’t value things appropriately. It could lead directly to a business rife with harassment, intolerance, and other problems. Once your business gains a reputation for that type of behavior, you’ll find it increasingly hard to attract new talent, much less retain your most valuable employees. You could also find yourself facing legal issues.
Another type of training required is professional CE, or continuing education. In this situation, learners must complete a specific number of CE credits during a specified period to maintain their licensure. Failing to provide this training could mean license revocation for your employees, which as a direct, measurable result on your business’s success.
Finally, we come to the last type of training – professional development. These are courses designed to help your team strengthen existing skills, develop new ones, and grow in their careers. As they do, they become ever-more valuable to your business and play an increasingly central role in business success.
As you can see, L&D matters a lot and for many different reasons. However, if you’re unable to measure the success of your program, there’s little point in providing it in the first place. Online testing helps ensure that you can gauge retention, application, and more to determine whether your L&D program is doing what it should.
Types of Online Assessments or Testing
Quizzes are a great way to implement “micro-learning” into your training programs. In the same way that students learn and retain better through smaller chunks of information delivered in increments, quizzes help to further ingrain that knowledge in short, applicable, practical spurts.
Many courses will include a more comprehensive exam or test at the end of the full course or training program. This is one of the best forms of online testing to collect data about each individual’s overall retention and knowledge of the subject. This also helps to track general patterns of understanding between individuals, jobs, departments, and locations.
Some typical forms of online testing questions may include:
- Multiple Choice
- True or False
- Essay/Short Answer
- Multiple Choice with Explanation
- Find Errors
- Long-Term Assessments
It is not enough to test someone right after they finish a course, though. These exams give only a snapshot of the knowledge the trainee has gained. Creating online testing that determines long-term retention is crucial to fully understand the training’s return on investment.
These assessments could include on-the-job performance, feedback, online testing, and boss and peer reviews. Understanding what the individual took away from the course after a week, after a month, or even after a year will help not only to understand the individual’s performance but also where the training is lacking to further develop it for future students.
Online testing should not be one-sided, though. After you have tested your students, you should allow your students to “test” you. Give them forms or discussion forums where they can provide feedback on the training and assessments in an interactive setting. This gives students ownership over their own learning and development. It can help the individual, their peers, and the L&D of the organization all grow, innovate, and learn in tandem.
The Use of Online Quizzes or Testing
The ultimate return on investment of your training program is a pathway:
Training presentation -> understanding -> retention -> productivity -> profits
In this way, online testing should occur after each step to fully understand the benefits and successes of the training program.
- Quizzes and exams that directly follow the presentation of the training can help determine how clear and digestible the program was.
- Perform assessments a week or two later after understanding has settled and been applied to the job.
- These assessments should be repeated a few months later to see how much of the material was retained long-term.
- Finally, if the online testing up to this point has gone well, you can assume that the student has grown and the training has succeeded. However, final assessments have to come after this increase (or decrease) in the trainee’s success. You need to ensure that their boosted productivity (and the company’s profits) is directly correlated to the training. This can be done through personal feedback, self-reflection, and other forms of cognitive-based online testing to see how the individuals attribute their successes (or failures, if relevant).
Online testing should be performed at various stages to fully understand success and long-term return on your training investment to make a strategic impact on an organization’s development. The right learning management system plays a key role here by providing you with the tools necessary to measure, track, and gauge the most important metrics and KPIs.