If you’ve been following along with our conference recaps, you know we’ve had an action-packed few weeks and our conference season continued into the first week of November with Elliott Masie’s Learning 2018 in Orlando, FL. This conference offered the opportunity to discuss how learning is driving business decisions and ways learning units are adapting to data-driven decision making.
Learning 2018 Highlights
This year featured a broad range of keynotes focused on learning and education-related topics. Actor and singer Leslie Odom, Jr. talked about his learning journey and the importance of mentors. Former first lady Laura Bush discussed how her lifelong passion for education remains a focus in her work today. Beyond the keynotes, this conference was jam-packed with other events and presentations to attend. With over 20 to choose from per time slot, learning leaders from organizations big and small presented case studies, hands-on workshops, and presentations about best practices.
As with our past conferences, eThink was able to get back on stage with a presentation titled “Evolving the eLearning Ecosystem with Open Source Technology” led by Jeremy Schweitzer, Director of Customer Solutions at eThink, and Randy Jones, Vice President of Sales. The talk focused on building long-term learning solutions that are flexible enough to meet an organization’s evolving needs.
The eThink team also got in a bit of fun while in Orlando with a trip to Epcot and the Food & Wine Festival.
Data-Driven Decision Making
One of the overarching themes of this year’s conference was data-driven decision making. Many presenters and conference-goers emphasized the importance of taking the time to really examine the data being tracked by learning organizations. It’s crucial to determine whether those metrics really drive business processes and value.
Learning leaders like Kathy Tague discussed taking a hard look at what they were evaluating in their onboarding program. She posed potentially involving other business units to help strip away the less helpful information in order to better determine what metrics they should really be tracking.
Sometimes that data reveals issues outside of the learning team’s control. For example, what happens if data shows that participants are hitting or exceeding their sales quotas, but aren’t doing the “pre-work” that was expected to precede success? Initially, this looked like a problem with the training. However, by looking at the data, it revealed a problem with the adoption of the available sales tools. Armed with that data, the team was able to work with the relevant business units to resolve the underlying problem.
xAPI and the LRS
With data-driven decision being a main focus at the conference, many other sessions looked at how organizations can more effectively retrieve the valuable data needed to empower informed decisions. In response to the “how,” presenters urged attendees to take a deeper look at how xAPI and a Learning Record Store (LRS) can get the job done.
Additionally, digital learning experts stressed the importance of evaluating your own data first before embarking on any data-focused project. When first evaluating your own data, you may realize you already have access to all the information you need.
Ask the Right Questions
Once you know what data you already have, you can move onto figuring out the questions that you’re trying to answer, which might include:
- What are my learners searching for?
- How often do users search for something and then not complete any training?
- Indicating that maybe they didn’t find what they’re looking for.
- What out of date resources are being heavily used?
- Are learning assets in different languages of similar quality?
- If some staff perform at a higher level than others, is there training that might explain the difference?
Identifying your questions then sets you up for the next stage: see what information you’re missing. It might be something as simple as not having granular enough user data (missing department or division level detail). Or, it can be something as large as realizing that you’re not tracking all the learning experiences your users rely on.
Either way, once you know what you’re NOT tracking you can start to address your questions. This can include a technical solution (such as adding xAPI support to your LMS or content). Or. by building relationships across business units to gain access to data that explores learning effectiveness with performance data.
(Fortunately, both Moodle and Totara offer simple options for pushing LMS data to an LRS through xAPI. Here is a closer look at how that works.)
After reviewing our team’s Learning 2018 takeaways, we pose this important question: What questions should your organization be asking? Consider those questions and organize your learning systems in a way that provides relevant answers. Then, you can effectively enhance your digital learning programs for improved outcomes.