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ROI of eLearning using Kirkpatrick Model

There are only a few theories that survive the ruthless test of time. Kirkpatrick model of training evaluation is one of those models that have not only survived a few decades but have maintained its relevance during each transition of training and learning. In 1954, when Dr. Donald Kirkpatrick wrote his Ph.D. dissertation on the evaluation of training for industrial supervisors, little did he know that this will become an industry standard for years to come. Donald along with his descendants Wendy Kirkpatrick & Dr. Jim Kirkpatrick continued to improve the model.

I recently received a request from an Asian Company to give me use cases of Kirkpatrick Model for Learning Technologies. I passed this requirement to an elearning company in India. I worked closely with this eLearning company in India that has successfully designed solutions using Kirkpatrick model. I had several learnings. I want to share them with the eLearning Carnival Viewers. If you are looking for the use cases/potentials, you can directly contact me via Linkedin putting a note (I accept all relevant requests).

In this article, I will take the freedom to relate everything in the context of asynchronous learning delivered through Learning Management System and results measured through a Performance Management System.

Readers must keep in mind that without a performance measurement system linked with learning management system, it’s entirely impossible to gauge ROI of e-Learning. The Performance Management System must include Learning as a required KPI, without which line managers will not be able to link learning with success.

The Kirkpatrick model is based on four fundamental milestones in e-Learning’s success: Reaction of the learners towards learning content, Learning gained during the period, Behavior of the learner, and Results delivered by the learner after successful completion of the program. You can read more about the model here:

Metrics for Various Steps of Kirkpatrick Model

1. Reaction Metrics:

The four metrics that can measure to gauge the reaction of a learner are:

  • Course Enrollment Ratio: How many learners enrolled for the course versus How many learners were notified of the course.
  •  Course Completion Ratio: How many users completed the course versus How many learners enrolled for the course.
  •  Course Reviews: If your LMS has options for users to review the course, how many users who completed the course provided favorable reviews and comments.
  •  Satisfaction Survey Scores: Finally, satisfaction survey scores after the course has finished.

2. Learning Metrics

The metrics to measure the understanding of the learner can be:

  • Assessment Scores: The learner’s score in the assessment that follows immediately after the course.
  • Manager’s Feedback: Use survey tools in the LMS to send a survey to Learner’s manager to check the improvement in the knowledge of the learner after the course. The survey must go to manager from 7th day of course completion to 15th day after the course.
  • Refresher Quiz Scores: Learners must be sent a quiz 15 days after the course completion. This quiz can check how much learning they have retained.

Once the learners attempt the assessment, the behavior and results metrics can be measured out the LMS through a Performance Management System. If the two systems are integrated, you’ll get the better information easily. Unless an organization has these systems in place, they cannot objectively measure the ROI of Learning initiatives.

3. Behavior Metrics

Practitioners can measure the change in Behaviour of a Learner by quizzing the manager and colleagues. The two metrics of Performance Management System that are relevant here are:

  • 360 Degree Review: A 360 Feedback score can reveal if the learning has put any impact on the behavior of the learner.
  • Monthly Performance Scores: One can gauge the result of learning on learner’s behavior by surveying their Monthly Performance Scores.

4. Results Metrics

We can measure the result of learning initiatives by comparing past and present performance/ productivity data.

  • The difference in two Appraisal Scores: If the learning has made a real impact it must reflect as an improvement in the Annual Performance Scores.
  • Manager’s Feedback: The feedback of a Competent Manager who works closely with the learner is also a vital ROI indicator.

These six metrics can give you data to measure ROI of learning on performance. I admit that it is a complex process of collecting and comparing various data points. However, with seamless integration between your LMS & PMS it is not difficult to get these reports and analysis.

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