How to use LMS data to improve your learning programmes

AuthorNatalie Ann HolborowDigital Content Specialist

Are you still tracking course completion or learner feedback forms as your primary method of learning data?

To maximise results, you’ll want to make sure you’re continually measuring and refining your learning programmes. However, to do this, you need to understand the kind of data you need and how much of it you have access to.

Today, learning analytics has become much more than simply tracking course completion. With the help of advanced learning technologies, You can now gain deeper insights into learner trends and behaviours and then leverage this data to inform learning design.

Here’s how the wealth of data in your learning system can help.

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Curate and refine your learning content

It’s easy to assume that the greater the choice of learning content on offer, the more beneficial for your learners. However, studies have proved that too much choice can hamper decision-making – take the famous jam example.pdf) in a study by Sheena Iyengar and Mark Lepper. On one day, shoppers saw a table with 24 varieties of jam – those who sampled the jam received a discount voucher. On another day, shoppers saw a display with six varieties of jam. Although the smaller display attracted less interest, 30% of shoppers made a purchase, compared with only 3% of those who saw the larger display.

Giving your learners too much choice could prove overwhelming and cause them to log out. Fortunately, the data in your learning system can help you curate and refine your learning content to provide only the most relevant resources.

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Germane load refers to the load that results from activities that enhance learning or the processing of information. John Sweller (1988) suggested the importance of maximising germane load by using appropriate, focused activities to improve learning. You can look at the formats of learning content you have available and use reporting tools to identify which are gaining the most engagement.

Perhaps the data tells you that the videos on sales conversations are accessed often and from the time spent on the page, you know that people are watching the videos all the way through. Perhaps you discover that people aren’t reading that long article on upselling, but are instead accessing bite-sized audio content on the same topic.

Test a variety of formats to find the most effective depending on how frequently the learning material is accessed and the average length of time spent on it. Peer ratings and reviews also make it easy to see at a glance which learning resources are recommended by fellow learners, tapping into the power of social proof.

On a more personalised level, advanced learning systems can also recommend resources according to what the data reveals about their behaviours and preferences. For example, Thinqi’s smarter learning system can be plugged into Google Analytics for deeper insights into the content being searched for, the number of people accessing this content and how long they’re engaging with it. This helps you to identify in real-time exactly which topics are trending.

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Improve your assessments

One of the key benefits of using analytics to improve your learning programmes is that it enables you to identify areas that learners are struggling with through a question-level analysis. Say, for example, that 80% of your learners on an accelerated selling course are failing the same question. This could highlight one of three possible issues:

  • The training materials relating to this topic are not relevant enough
  • Learners need to revisit the content (you might want to consider whether time management or line manager support is an issue)

If your data reveals that learners are doing well in other questions on the same topic, then it is likely that the question itself is the problem and will need investigating. However, if this pattern emerges across multiple questions, it may be that the learning content, format or delivery method needs revisiting.

In Thinqi’s smarter learning system, granular reporting is available with visual dashboards for assignment questions. You can see not only the pass rates for specific questions, but also the length of time individual users spend answering them, along with the number of attempts taken to achieve a correct answer. This not only helps you to identify problematic questions, but also to determine where extra assistance is needed. You can then recommend resources as part of a personalised learning pathway.

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Optimise for multiple devices

Statistics on the e-learning market in 2022 indicate that mobile learning remains one of the fastest-growing markets in the sector, growing at a CAGR of 20% over the period 2020 – 2027. Insight into how your learners are accessing the learning materials can be used to inform the design and optimise their experience.

Your learning system will show you the proportion of learners accessing via desktop, mobile and tablet. Perhaps you notice that mobile usage is increasing rapidly. In this case, you should focus on bite-sized chunks of content that allow people to dip in and out of learning content flexibly. Make sure the content you’re using is supported by the devices being used – no one wants to painstakingly read an article cut halfway across the page or wait for a video that continues to buffer for minutes on end.

If, however, you see that mobile learning is proving slow to catch on, then it’s probably not the right time to roll out all your mobile content at once. In this case, monitor your data and drip-feed according to peaks in mobile usage to meet learners where they are.

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Leverage the power of xAPI

xAPI (full name: the Experience API) is a software specification used in more advanced learning systems. It allows learning content and learning systems to ‘speak’ to each other in a way that records and tracks learning experiences. For L&D professionals, xAPI offers the opportunity to track data beyond progress and scores. It enables you to consider the bigger picture – from learners’ initial thoughts about the learning to the impact it has on their everyday working life.

Some of the most significant things xAPI enables you to do include:

  • Designing more readable, qualitative and quantitative progress and score reports
  • Considering more widely what should be measured as part of the learning journey and as an outcome of learning
  • Capturing previously intangible behaviours that demonstrate or have an impact on learning

By taking instructional design out of SCORM packages of the past, you can now think beyond just standard e-learning courses. Instead, xAPI allows you to track the layered and linked activities that make up the entire learning experience. These activities might include:

  • Attending an in-person or virtual event
  • Completing and uploading an assignment
  • Finishing a course
  • Joining a network
  • Posting on a discussion board

SCORM will tell you that a learner passed or failed a course. xAPI on the other hand will tell you exactly when this happened and the journey they took to get there – both online and offline. By analysing learning experiences in relation to job performance, you will be able to determine which experiences are most effective. You can also tell which parts of the organisation are logging in most often and which have low usage of your learning system. If a particular part of the organisation is barely engaging, you can then can investigate the reasons and take appropriate action.

Thinqi is equipped with all you need to set goals and objectives, track progress and performance, and inform your learning design. With over 70 comprehensive reports, in-depth assessment scores, personalised learning pathways and reward mechanisms for real-world application, Thinqi is designed to help you optimise your learning programmes for maximum success.

In summary…

Say goodbye to guesswork, data overwhelm and tracking progress scores in self-contained learning objects – today’s learning systems have all the data you need at your fingertips to create learning programmes that are proven to work.

For more tips and examples on using learning data to optimise your learning programmes, get your free expert guide here.

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