Instructional Design

Assessing eLearning: How to Create a Comprehensive (and Useful) Assessment Plan

“Put your money where your mouth is!” It’s the battle cry of would-be gamblers everywhere. And in eLearning, feeling confident when the stakes are high is the result of a solid program, excellent development and of course, comprehensive assessment tools. Without assessment methods in place, it’s practically impossible to see whether or not learning objectives were accomplished. Show more confidence in your method by putting the two most common – and most effective – assessment tools in place to gauge whether or not your eLearning objectives are a safe bet.

Formative Assessment

Formative assessments are typically a more casual way to assess how your learners are interacting and adapting to the material. Formative assessment usually occurs during learning, and often requires a dialog between administrator and learner. Formative assessments are put in place to gather feedback, which is then used to improve on the original material. Some formative assessments can include:

  • A simple survey with questions on how learners are enjoying the course, how they’re interacting with the material and how effective they think the material is from an educational standpoint. Surveys are quick and offer an overall picture of eLearning success.
  • Course evaluation. When the program is finished, learners might have the opportunity to evaluate or “grade” the experience. Answers and grades can then be used for improvement, or to act as a sounding board for further discussion.
  • Discussion/webinars. Want to know what learners really think? Just ask them. Most are more than happy to offer their two cents once a program has finished. Gathering participants in a round table discussion or webinar can give you the candid feedback you need to really improve.

Formative assessment is typically considered a low-level assessment method. While it has its merits, it’s also inherently flawed in one way: It’s completely subjective.

Summative Assessment

If you have a head for numbers, you’ll definitely appreciate summative assessments. Rather than utilizing user opinion, summative assessment uses hard facts to tell you more about the success of a module or program. Using summative assessment, you can get a better grasp on how the curriculum is actually affecting learners in a few different ways.

  • Quizzes and tests. You know your learners can talk the talk, but can they walk the walk? Quizzes and tests ensure that learners are actually absorbing material and not simply going through the motions and clicking through frames.
  • In-field assessment. It’s difficult to narrow down the effects of eLearning in the workplace – but it’s not impossible. By defining criteria for behavior change after the course, you can assess learners based on what they’ve learned and how they’ve put new skills and knowledge to practice on the job.
  • Ranking and achievement. There’s nothing wrong with a little friendly competition, especially when that competition allows you to better assess results. Assigning rankings or allowing learners to unlock achievements with certain actions is fun for them, but informative for you.

When it comes to inspiring confidence in CLOs and L&D professionals, both assessment methods combine to create an overall picture of eLearning. After all, eLearning isn’t just about learner experience or numbers – it’s about both. Putting a plan in place gives you the opportunity to assess and plan, making eLearning less of a gamble and more of a sure thing.