E-Learning – What You Are Failing To Measure

If I had the proverbial Dollar for every e-learning report that shows the number of hours used or the cost savings versus classroom…..

These Numbers Prove Virtually Nothing

If I was a CFO and my Learning Director came to me with those kinds of numbers I would refuse to provide a budget for next year. I may also question why we haven’t employed someone more capable.

Harsh? Perhaps, but we need to start to show that we have a purpose and can prove the actual worth of e-learning projects. Let’s face it, in most companies it can take a virtual act of Parliament to get something like e-learning approved in the first place. And after all the effort we often fail to adequately to show the return on the investment.

So let’s take a look at this more closely.


What does usage in terms of hours show?

There is a belief there is a connection between the total number of hours and minutes that the company has accessed e-learning and how effective the learning has been. Simply Not True.  You can cross your fingers and hope, but this is no way conclusive and I don’t know many CFO’s that take positive thinking as proof of a good return.

One organization I know implemented a new version of Microsoft Office. To support this they provided the staff with e-learning rather than take them through lengthy classroom sessions. 3000 members of staff, accessed the courses an average of 20 times per person for an average of 10 minutes each time in the first month. A sample of the feedback from the staff showed that accesses were directly linked to a requirement to execute a task within the application. A perfect example of just-in-time learning, even if you don’t apply any financial return.

Cost Savings

There seems to be some belief that because e-learning is ‘cheaper’, the overall value of the experience is improved.

Why would this be true?

Walking is infinitely cheaper than air travel,  but the value surely needs to be assessed against the distance you need to travel.

Just because you save money on travel, instructor costs and hotels do not make this necessarily a better choice. How the e-learning is employed is the key. Are the courses mapped to the role, the aspirations of the business and used in conjunction with instructor lead programs and coaching?  And remember balance is important also. If there is value in shipping your staff from Belgium to Bali for a learning experience then do it, but always show why.

“Think about what your learners need to do with that information after the course is finished and design around that.” – Matthew Guyan

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