If there are many different ways to evaluate training, they must all be consistent … A goal that Totara Learn, the leading open source learning platform, is successfully achieving. In an interview with E-Learning Letter, Dr. Mark Melia, Head of Product Strategy at Enovation, tells us more about the Learning Management System.
There is more and more talk about the need to evaluate training. Why is that?
Mark: Our world is becoming incredibly knowledge focused. Organisations’ need for skilled people is growing at an incredible rate. It is widely recognised that competitive advantage is based now primarily on a skilled workforce. Training and learning are important parts in building and maintaining that skilled workforce. Training must be targeted and actionable. Long gone are the days of training for training’s sake, a day out of the office. Training today must equate to meaningful improvements in employee knowledge, skills and behaviour leading to high performing individuals that collectively create that competitive advantage for the organisation. Evaluation ensures that the quality of this training is maintained and that the training is indeed having the desired effect from a strategic perspective within the organisation. Evaluation is generally divided into levels known as the Kirkpatrick model for evaluating learning effectiveness. Level 1 measures learner reaction, Level 2 measures the learning attained, Level 3 measures behaviour change in the learner and level 4 looks at the business impact of the learning. Ideally we need to be evaluating at all levels but as all learning professionals know as you move up the levels the more difficult the evaluation becomes. This is where technology such as Totara Learn come in, taking the pain out of these evaluations by automating much of the management of evaluation.
Does Totara Learn allow training managers to make these assessments?
Mark: Totara Learn has been built with learning evaluation in mind. Instructors can easily add online feedback forms to learning in order to evaluate the learner’s reaction to the learning and to see if the learner had a good and worthwhile experience, evaluating KP Level 1. Totara Learn has a wide variety of powerful assessment tools in order to evaluate the learning attained by the learners. Assessment tools serve to evaluate KP Level 2. Enovation has added a tool called ‘Course Impact’ to Totara Learn that evaluates perceived behaviour change in learners outside of the course context. This allows instructors to evaluate if learning is having the desired effect in how an employee does his or her job, thus evaluating KP Level 3. KP Level 4 needs to consider other business systems. Enovation can help with this by integrating Totara Learn with business intelligence to compare learning with on-the-job performance.
Does Totara Learn supports the 70:20:10 model?
Mark: The 70:20:10 model is a general acceptance by the learning community that learning needs to be supported within the business, on-the-job. Totara Learn does this by centring the learning experience around the employee and provides line managers with the right tools to support their direct reports. Totara Learn allows learners to collaboratively define learning plans which not only include formal learning events but learning objectives. These learning objectives can take the form of experiential learning or social learning. Managers can also be the gatekeepers to employee competency attainment meaning that even if a learner has completed a course it is only after the manager has signed off on the competency that a specific competency is attained.
Totara Learn is IMS LTI compliant in two ways. Learning on Totara Learn can be served to other LTI compliant systems and Totara Learn can play learning served from another LTI system.
What about the exploitation of data produced by learners?
Mark: Totara Learn is one of the most sophisticated LMS’s from a tracking perspective. Totara Learn tracks what learners are doing and how they are doing it. This data can be quite granular where appropriate, for example at the mouse click level for knowledge assessment activities. Enovation is working with our clients to help them make sense of this data so that interventions can be targeted, informed and effective. One such example is the work we have been doing on the course dashboard. The course dashboard looks at social and engagement metrics to help the learner understand how they compare to their peers in their performance and their engagement with the course.