Measuring the ROI of E-Learning: Are You Getting Your Money's Worth?

Measuring the ROI of E-Learning: Are You Getting Your Money’s Worth?

Damian Hehire-learning

Measuring the ROI of E-Learning: Are You Getting Your Money’s Worth?

While it is almost always beneficial to measure the ROI of any business initiative, there are specific benefits that apply to e-learning, including:

  • Gives you a better understanding of how your training strategy is performing.
  • Helps identify areas for improvement.
  • Justifies the use of e-learning as a training delivery method.
  • Ensures your training strategy is delivering on the requirements of the business.
  • Helps prioritise training courses and initiatives.

So, how do you measure the level of return on investment you achieve when you develop a new e-learning course?

How to Measure ROI

We have identified seven main ways to measure both ROI and the overall performance of an e-learning course. Before going through those measurement methods, there are three important points to highlight:

  • It may take time for the real impact of training to be properly measured. Only then can the performance of the course be properly assessed.
  • It is not always possible to put a monetary value on training success. This applies to courses where the main benefits to the business are real and important, but also intangible.
  • Completing an e-learning course is only one way that learners improve their knowledge or develop a new skill. The e-learning course is important, but learners can also learn before and after completing the course through other training materials and on-the-job learning.

The following seven options for measuring e-learning ROI take into account the above two points.

Assess Through Quizzes

One of the most straightforward ways of measuring e-learning success and ROI is to include assessments and analyse the results. This can include assessments that are part of the original course as well as assessments that learners can take at a later date. The main benefit of the latter is that it assesses knowledge retention.

Analyse Performance Improvements

You will be able to measure the success of some training topics using objective metrics. Examples include:

  • Sales performance
  • Customer satisfaction
  • Accident rates
  • Productivity
  • Employee turnover
  • Downtime
  • Error rates

In all the above examples, you can compare results before and after the training to measure its impact.

Behaviour Change

Measuring behaviour change is another way to assess ROI and training success. However, measuring behaviour change is not always possible using objective metrics (such as those outlined above). In these situations, it is beneficial to ask managers for their observations. In other words, have managers noticed a change in behaviour after the implementation of the e-learning course?

Analyse Training Metrics

You will have access to training metrics that will help you measure ROI and the success of your e-learning course. Completion rates and drop out rates are two examples.

The number of people trained within a specific period of time is another important metric as the distribution of an e-learning training course is typically faster and more widespread than alternative delivery methods.

You can also look at parts of the course that learners either skip or repeat as this behaviour could be an indication the content is not delivering what the learner needs.

Analyse Training Costs

An analysis of training costs will also help with your assessment of ROI and overall levels of performance. For example, did you deliver the training at a lower cost by using e-learning as the training delivery method? Or did you achieve more without increasing your budget?

Learner Satisfaction Analysis

Seeking feedback from learners is an important part of measuring ROI and training success. You can do this through feedback forms or by asking learners questions about what they thought about the course and whether or not it was helpful.

Consider the Intangible Benefits

It is also helpful to factor in benefits where it is difficult to attribute a precise monetary value or objective measurement. Examples include:

  • Enhanced company culture
  • Improved learning culture
  • Improved camaraderie and team spirit
  • Improved morale
  • Etc.

Training Evaluation Models

There are a number of training evaluation models that you can use to measure ROI. One of the most well-known is the Kirkpatrick training evaluation model.

The Kirkpatrick model has four levels of training evaluation:

  • Reaction – did learners like the training?
  • Learning – did learners develop new skills or knowledge?
  • Behaviour – did learners start using the new skills or knowledge?
  • Results – what was the impact of the training on the company?

This model was expanded by Jack Philips to also include a level that measures return on investment, i.e., crunching the numbers.

Importantly, it is not necessary to go through all five stages for all the training courses you develop. In fact, Jack Phillips, the creator of the expanded Kirkpatrick model, said only 5-10 percent of training courses will benefit from all five levels of evaluation. Therefore, the approach you take to evaluate the performance of an e-learning course and the ROI achieved will depend on the course and its topic.

How to Maximise ROI

So far in this blog we have focused on how to measure ROI and the success of your e-learning course. How do you maximise ROI, though? Here are some tips:

  • Understand the business needs the training aims to address.
  • Define the performance outcomes you want to achieve.
  • Choose a topic that will deliver maximum benefits to the company.
  • Make sure the course content is relevant and engaging.
  • Use a modular design so the course can be easily updated and changed.
  • Use a micro-learning strategy to deliver the training to learners in short, bite-sized chunks.
  • Focus on learner experience.
  • Communicate with learners so they know how the course benefits them and not just the company.
  • Empower learners by giving them as much autonomy as possible.
  • Measure and analyse results.

Staying Focused

Measuring success and the ROI of your e-learning course will help to keep your training strategy focused on what’s important – the needs of the business. It is a continuous effort, but it will deliver dividends over the long term.

One final tip is to engage the help of your e-learning developer when assessing ROI and course success. The input of your developer will be invaluable.