Evaluating an Online Course: Before, During and After

Evaluating the content and design of your course with direct input from your audience is a hallmark of user-centered design. It can greatly improve the outcomes of the courses you create. We recommend surveying your audience before and after designing your course to collect valuable data. It’s also helpful to look at the data your LMS collects on users to see how they interact with the course. Continually evaluating and analyzing your data ensures that your content remains relevant and informative.

1. Evaluate Your Course Objectives Before You Start Designing
Surveying your audience before you write your content is critical to making sure you address their learning needs. Interviewing prospective learners and conducting focus groups are two ways to gather this information. Design questions to find out:

  • What information or support the learner needs most
  • How they plan to access the course (desktop, laptop, or mobile device)
  • How long they would spend to take the training

It’s helpful to have a list of proposed learning objectives that you can go through with your audience to see if they match their own learning needs. Be prepared to get widely different opinions that you will need to assimilate to come up with your learning objectives and course design.

2. Survey Your Learners After the Course Content Is Available
Once you’ve prototyped (or even launched) your course, you can get more specific feedback about your design by adding a survey at the end to collect feedback from your learners. Most users want to give input on how to make the course better. It’s helpful to ask questions about user experience. Quantify what they felt to be the most valuable takeaways. You can also gather input about the content (whether anything should be added or eliminated). Using the information to further refine your course makes it more likely that your course remains valuable and current.

3. Analyzing Data from Your Website or LMS
In addition to adding an evaluation at the end of the course, you can also analyze the data provided by your Web analytics or LMS. Both of these allow you to track user activity. You can gather information such as:

  • How long a learner spends in the course
  • How they perform on interactivities
  • The number of learners who attempt the course, and the number who complete the course
  • Scores on any knowledge checks or quizzes

This information can often inform you that your course is too long, too easy or too difficult. Making adjustments to the content keeps your course targeted and effective.

Case Study
Our client, the California Victim Compensation Board (CalVCB), wanted to make sure they created eLearning courses that addressed the needs of their audience. Using data collected from learners, we were able to refine the courses to address feedback gathered before, during, and after course completion.

The Scenario
CalVCB provides compensation for victims of violent crime who are injured or threatened with injury. Among the crimes covered are domestic violence, child abuse, sexual and physical assault, homicide, robbery, and vehicular manslaughter. CalVCB wanted to create five online courses to increase 1) awareness of the program with advocates and 2) accessibility to compensation benefits for victims.

Solution
CalVCB already had a strong culture of sensitivity toward their audience. Together, we identified the importance of relying on user input and data (not just conventional thinking) as the foundation for our work. Our approach included gathering user information and data throughout the entire process of product development and iteration. The three ways we did this included:

Key Benefits

  • Adjustments were made to the course designs as a result of the focus groups and interviews.
  • The client was able to see how the learners interacted with the courses.
  • Learners were able to provide post-course feedback that helped the client make further refinements.

By taking learner feedback and data into account throughout the design and implementation process, we were able to create courses that were optimized for the specific needs of the CalVCB audience.

More Information

To learn more about how Monarch Media can help you with your next eLearning project, please call, email, or visit our website:

Monarch Media, Inc.
www.monarchmedia.com
831-457-4414 info@nullmonarchmedia.com