As we are focused on developing more innovative, interactive, bite-sized eLearning, are we forgetting a key element: eLearning assessment? Do you ever wonder how your eLearning assessment techniques impact online learners? Contrary to popular belief, eLearning assessment is not the end. Nor is it the tick-box to say the eLearning course has been completed and that a test has been passed. Of course, tracking completion is important. But qualitative eLearning assessment asks you to take it one step further. You need to ask your online learner how well they’re progressing. What else should we focus on? Get eLearning assessment right, and you’ll see a real difference in the behavior of your online learners.
What’s So Different About Qualitative eLearning Assessment?
Traditional eLearning assessment focuses on an online learner achieving a specific score, target or level. Qualitative eLearning assessment is understanding where an online learner is along their learning journey, and what should be done to achieve their goals. Qualitative eLearning assessment helps you look into the progress an online learner is making, allowing you to identify skill and performance gaps. As a result, you’re able to create personalized eLearning experiences. There are many different types of qualitative eLearning assessments. Some of the most popular include:
Use an immersive simulation to challenge your online learners in a real-world environment. The fastest way to check their understanding is to test it out in practical settings and measure performance, minus the risk. A simulation is a safe way to experiment and make mistakes. Thereby, reducing on-the-job mistakes and giving employees the confidence they need to improve productivity.
b. Branching Scenarios
Work on an eLearning storyboard to design a series of decisions leading to an ultimate goal, then set this out as a set of questions that your online learner needs to progress through. If they get stuck at a certain stage, you know there is additional learning to be done here.
c. Open-Ended Questions
Ask your online learner to explain a concept back to you. If their analysis is light, you will have pinpointed specific gaps in learning. This also encourages them to evaluate their own assumptions and challenge them. For example, they question a long-held belief that may hinder their personal or professional growth.
d. Online Discussions And Interviews
Get your online learners talking together and probing others for information. Where there are no current experts, or where answers are not forthcoming, you can step in with additional online training modules. You can also use social media groups to give them a platform for discussion and gauge their level of comprehension. For instance, post a question or prompt and see how they respond. How well do they articulate their answers, and do they include the major takeaways?
Qualitative eLearning Assessment Mistakes To Avoid
1. Making Tasks Too Simple Or Too Complex
It’s important to pitch the qualitative eLearning assessment at the right level. It should be challenging, so you can highlight where the limits of understanding are lying. On the other hand, it shouldn’t be impossible, whereby nobody can answer correctly. In short, the point is to gauge your online learners’ level of understanding and provide additional learning material to bridge crucial gaps. Not to frustrate them to the point that they give up or to make it so simplistic that they aren’t able to identify weaknesses.
2. Failing To Engage Online Learners In An Appropriate Type Of eLearning Assessment
Make sure the eLearning assessment method is appropriate to the content. For example, a simulation may not be appropriate if there is a theory-heavy content, such as financial or legal training. You also need to ensure that the online learner understands why they are being assessed at this particular time. Explain how it is adding to their learning journey and improving their eLearning experience. In some cases, quantitative eLearning assessments may be the ideal option if you need to gather measurable data instead.
3. Failing To Create A Valid Scoring Rubric
It’s important that you are able to easily analyze the results of your qualitative eLearning assessment, especially in open-ended questions. Whilst replacing scores creates a new kind of insight, it’s essential to be clear about what the eLearning assessments are highlighting. Ultimately, the evaluation criteria should align with the learning objectives, skill gaps, and the desired outcomes. For instance, it tracks how well employees apply communication skills on the job.
4. Leaving Online Learners Adrift And Directionless
An online learner must understand how they are progressing against their learning objectives. Thus, if they use purely qualitative methods, they may not be able to understand where they are in their learning journey. They need to know how well they have picked up the information or acquired skills. The risk with qualitative eLearning assessment is that there is no satisfaction of “passing” an eLearning course. Fortunately, this can be overcome by providing timely, individual feedback. For example, give them a list of recommendations and a performance recap at the end of the simulation.
5. Forgetting To Follow Up
Aside from the feedback, it’s also essential to follow up with personalized recommendations and online resources. Give online learners the opportunity to create their own improvement plan with the available training tools. For example, the Learning Management System automatically displays a list of relevant eLearning courses or activities based on their simulation performance. As a result, they still have the ability to choose learning resources based on their learning preferences.
When considering how best to round out your eLearning course, don’t be tempted to stick with the traditional test at the end. Take some time to think about how best to embed assessment activities throughout the eLearning course and beyond. The wealth of information that qualitative eLearning assessment can create will be invaluable to your L&D team, who’ll be able to highlight key issues that need to be addressed. You can be specific and provide real insight—far better than reporting a test score. The future of eLearning is in creating individualized, engaging, immersive eLearning. Are your eLearning assessment techniques keeping up with the pace of change?
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