This morning I noticed a tweet from @JaneBozarth, the Doctor O’ Learning who writes books and is the Worlds Worst Bureaucrat in Raleigh, NC. She was pimping an article she’d written for Learning Solutions Magazine on measuring the results of your e-learning, entitled “Nuts And Bolts: How To Evaluate e-Learning“. Always the snarky guy, I tweeted the link out to all my little followers, but then sent a comment direct to Jane: I spend a lot of time promoting the idea of assessment in learning — and rarely, if ever, get much interest from clients in including that part of the project. Because it’s expensive, difficult, time-consuming and often embarrassing. She responded quickly: And that’s the sad truth. Lots of people don’t really want to know if their learning, “e” or otherwise is working. Because it’s hard to measure, it takes time and dedication, and (ultimately) you might just embarrass yourself.
So Why Bother To Measure At All?
Because I don’t create amazing training the first time I try. My first version is usually somewhere between “good” and “sucks”. I don’t spend a lot of time on it, it isn’t real glossy and pretty, and sometimes there are even some big empty gaps. But I quickly evaluate how well it worked — using the actual learning goals and the assessments we all agreed on at the beginning — and then go right back to designing. By version #2, I’m usually at about “great”. But I don’t stop there. Now, I’m able to really start making things happen. I can add teaching suggestions, more interactions, alternate models, and lots of nice media and facilitation. Then I head back to designing. By version #3, we’re up to “amazing”. Most people would hang it up. Not me. I’m drilling down on the 20% of the assessment questions that people are still missing. I’m asking the students what isn’t engaging them, the instructor what still feels stiff, and the client what they might have forgotten to include. At version #4, we’ve reached “in-freakin-credible”. Go ahead and measure me. Bring it on! Want to talk about R.O. I.? I’ve got your ROI right here, sucka! Want to compare me to your PPT lectures? Go for it! Want to put your next training project out to the lowest bidder? Listen to me chuckle my evil chuckle! So the next time somebody asks you whether you include assessment, just smile and say “of course — that’s where we start!”