Five Ways to Use an LMS for Effective Learning Measurement
A recent post on our blog poked fun at Learning management systems and underlined the disconnect that is possibly present in organizations that use an LMS to create, deliver and manage learning. In this post I attempt to illustrate how, by adopting some simple methods, you could use the LMS better and also get some aid in Learning measurement.

Learning measurement, it looks like, is not an easy term to define. I couldn’t find it on Wikipedia and Google didn’t help much either. Wikipedia kept prompting me to go for learning management instead. It was perhaps my first experience where Wikipedia or Google didn’t open the right door for me. However, to my relief, I did find some pieces of information on about learning measurement.

Before I begin citing some ways to use LMS for Learning Measurement, let me state that Learning Measurement is a very challenging exercise and not one that can be executed easily or quickly with some calculator. The best way (but probably the most difficult one) to measure learning is to measure for the right business indicators like sales figures, productivity measures, defect ratios etc. My post is only to find simple ways where LMS could contribute towards Learning measurement in some way. However the eventual learning measurement depends on a variety of factors including, but not limited to, company policies, overall environment to perform, training process, organization will to enable channels that can lead to learning measurement, etc.

Referring back to the cartoon, the first thing most LMS users (organizations) need to be conscious that MIS reports from an LMS does not inherently imply measurement of learning. The ‘what’ in the reports is only meaningful if the ‘how’ it reached there is thought out carefully and implemented appropriately.

Here are the five ways to use an LMS for ensuring better and effective learning measurement:

  1. A good start is half the work well done.  As I mentioned in one of my earlier posts it would be essential to set ‘being able to effectively measure learning’ as one of the end goals of implementing LMS (or using LMS). This will ensure that the inputs received from various stakeholders are aligned with this objective making it a critical part. In most cases this is ignored and the focus remains on ‘automating’ the learning / training function. Believe me – you will get what you will seek.
  2. Look at the LMS as an overall strategy rather than just a tool. Learning measurement is already present as a process in the training function. E.g. Assessments after training sessions, On-the-job surveys, Supervisor feedback on team member performance, etc. However what gets missed out is an attempt to get that process completely mapped in to the LMS. Most LMS would offer all these modules – online assessments, surveys, etc. It is up to the organization to sit with the vendor and map out the process.At this stage, the idea is to do things manually (e.g. remember to create a survey after 3 months of training and evaluate the change in performance). This could become a problem as it may not be done reliably and consistently for all training programs and gradually it degenerates into something ad-hoc.
  3. Explain the learning evaluation process clearly to the vendor. More the vendor knows, better the chances that they’ll come up with a good and innovative solution to build your process into the LMS implementation.
  4. Define automated, scheduled process for conducting evaluation surveys at regular interval after the training is over. Ensure it is automated so it can be activated for all training programs. Exceptions can then be managed individually. This will trigger notifications to the user after the time period to take the survey again and could help in analyzing the change in behavior/performance after applying the training back to the job.
  5. Use the assessment module of the LMS to create relevant and timely assessments which can be run either along with or independently of the training. Online assessments, if designed properly can be a powerful tool to measure learning.

All these are simple measures and if accounted for in the beginning will definitely result in a better process to generate meaningful reports. These reports will surely contribute positively, on a regular basis, to the learning measurement process which is in place.