A look behind the scenes of our on-line courses

Published on 23 June 2017 by Tomislav Rozman


...one of our online course participants from Belgium wrote me a heart-touching letter. Here’s is the excerpt:

“.... Actually, thanks to your training, I already have job interviews for positions of EU Project Manager in different scientific and education institutions. ...”

This kind of feedback is one of the reasons for me to persist in the market battle of on-line learning. Yes, the income is a motivator, but the purpose is even bigger motivator. I’ll come back to that a little bit later.

This time I wanted to expose some of the behind-the-scenes of our on-line courses.

We run on-line courses for several years and a good oversight of participant’s performance is a must. Because we don’t meet the participants face-to-face, we use a variety of communication and analytical tools to track their activity.

Let’s take a look how does the platform we use (TalentLMS) for our online courses support the ‘managerial view’.

Besides of the regular user activity reports, TalentLMS automagically generates the following interesting infographics.

Let’s start with the most interesting - the gamification infographics:

Gamification infographics

One of the most interesting infographics in TalentLMS shows a summary of the gamification related activities. It shows the leaderboard of the course participants, point changes, badge changes. It is also somehow interesting and useful to see how the participants are advancing.

But, the participants are not advancing because of the PBLs (Points/Badges/Leaderboard). PBL results are only a side-product of the participant’s activities in online courses.

The intrinsic motivators to attend, persist and complete the course come from the other sources. See the Youtube video (The surprising truth about what motivates us).

Points-Badges-Leaderboard results are only a side-product of the participant’s activities in online courses.

The main intrinsic motivator to attend a course is to become better at <insert skill>.

This motivator, of course, pulls the whole chain of other intrinsic motivators behind itself:

to become better at <insert skill> → to get the recognition of my knowledge → to get a better job (or, to perform the current job more efficiently) → to receive appropriate compensation → to provide for the family → to have a happy and purposeful life.

That’s it. We are purpose maximizers, not a profit maximisers (at least, the majority of us).

Nevertheless, the TalentLMS shows also a time and € savings:

Potential savings (total by the participants)

“Potential savings” infographics shows us how much savings in the sense of commute hours and travel costs our participants make. This infographic is somehow interesting for marketing purposes. Moreover, it is also a great environmental sustainability related KPI (Key Performance Indicator).

Fewer commute hours means less driving means fewer greenhouse gases means a cleaner and more stable environment.

The next interesting infographic shows a simple pattern of e-learning platform usage.

Time spent on the e-learning platform by the users

This infographic shows us the total time spent on our platform by users and comparison between the different courses. It is useful, especially for between-course comparison.

Why do I mention this infographic? The main reason is that I want to analyse the patterns of e-learning platform usage. Some users study the learning materials online (laptop), others on the tablet, some of them even print the materials and study offline. Such usage patterns show gives us a hint how to design our training materials. We have figured out that the majority of participants still prefer textual learning materials (alongside the short videos) for complex matters.

This is somehow contrary to the popular belief that all the training materials should be presented using videos.

Course completion rates and test pass rates

This infographic shows us the course completion pipeline and it answers the questions such as: “How many participants are currently active?”, “How many participants completed the course?” and “What is the average scores of the assignments and the tests?”.

The assignments are the core of our courses - they tickle two motivators: “mastery” and “self-direction”.

All of the assignments are designed in a way the participant applies them to his company / project / problem area.

The summary

I admit, sometimes it is difficult to manage a community of participants of the on-line training, because there is no face-to-face contact.

But with the use of modern Learning Management Systems, which provide a good analytics functionalities, the management becomes a little bit easier.

And, did I mention all of the infographics above are automatically generated? :)

This article is a successor of a previous article “E-learning is for losers (On-line učenje je za luzerje - only Slovenian language).

Further reading