The course you have designed for your learners will no doubt be of a great standard. But how can you be sure that it is having the desired effect?
Is each participant as actively engaged as the next? Does everyone understanding the material? Sure, your course is great but how could it be even better?
These are questions you need to be constantly asking about your elearning project and ultimately it is the learners who can give the most accurate answers.
Encouraging feedback is, of course, one of the best methods of finding out exactly what people think. But it’s a two way street, and you will most certainly find that to generate the most open and honest feedback from your learners you need to be giving it out in the first instance. You need to do this in a timely fashion – open the door, if you like, for a two-way conversation about the course, its merits and its flaws. Once you have established this pathway between yourself and your learners, you can then start to unearth the fine details of what is working and what is not, and begin to discover the true effectiveness of your elearning platform.
Questionnaires and surveys
These may seem a little old-hat – especially when dealing with sophisticated electronic platforms – but encouraging your learners to fill out surveys and questionnaires regarding your course is a sure fire way to ensure they are actively participating in producing informative feedback. For the most accurate results, it will undoubtedly help if you make all the forms anonymous, so there can be no risk of embarrassment if a particular learner has a very particular complaint.
It is imperative that you take on board all criticisms that your learners feel the need impart, especially if more than one of them has the same or similar complaint. At the end of the day, it is their experience of the course that counts towards whether it is indeed an effective platform or not – and this includes how much they enjoy the course as a whole.
Of course, the most reliable way to find out if your course is effective is to test your learners to see just how much knowledge they have retained. The best method of testing is little and often. If you only set one broad exam-like test that learners must complete once they have arrived at the end of your course, then it will be too late to glean from the results whether what you have been teaching them has been sinking in.
Instead, it is far better to incorporate little tests along the way – perhaps something as simple as a quiz at the end of each module. This way you will be able to monitor quite closely the true effectiveness of your course.
Indeed, regular tests like this will also enable you to identify if there is any learner in particular who might be struggling in a certain area. It is in the nature of learning that everyone has different requirements as to how to achieve the best results, and you may well find that what is working for most people isn’t working for the odd one or two. Your duty then is to address this issue and find a means of bringing these participants up to speed. An elearning platform is only truly effective if it is managing to engage and to teach everyone who is partaking in it. So, it might require a little effort to mould the material into a slightly different shape so that the person struggling can understand it.
The other thing that you might find when conducting these tests is that an overwhelming majority of the participants are finding things too easy. Sure, this might very well be down to your superlative design but it also might be the case that your course is a little bit too straightforward and not really teaching anybody anything new. This might be a bitter pill to swallow, but you should always be prepared for this eventuality and have at hand a more advanced level of course ready to roll out. If your course is too easy, then your learners will quickly become distracted and disengaged, so the trick is to have a variety of alternative options and approaches to the learning material to counteract this problem should it occur.
Never assume that you have all the right answers all of the time – that will be something that you will no doubt be trying to instil in your learners, so take heed of it yourself. By encouraging regular, open and sometimes anonymous feedback you will start to get a clear picture of what your learners are really thinking about the experience of your course, and through regular testing you will find out if what you are teaching them is valid. Be open to adjustments, and always take on board criticisms – your course will be all the more effective for it.