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Understanding impact: Getting started with learning analytics

Learning analytics today is about much more than tracking course completion rates. For the data-savvy learning professional, it has become a tool used to create and optimize learning experiences that have a tangible impact on business objectives. But despite the knowledge that data can drive decision-making and align L&D with business strategy, why is it that only 38% of organizations report its learning strategy impacts results?

Getting started with learning analytics

Whilst many of our clients come to us with some knowledge of data analytics and need our help to refine its practice, we are aware that some will still be at the very beginning of their learning analytics journey. And as part of an industry that thrives off of abbreviations and acronyms, we know that starting out with data can be a daunting prospect. 

For some, just knowing where to look for the right tools, resources and information will be a huge undertaking. For others, making the business case for investment in learning analytics to leadership will be a challenge too. 

Whatever the case, we invest a lot of time, resources and money into research in the L&D space so that we can continue to not only offer the best in online learning to our clients, but so we can also provide free access to the most up-to-date, relevant and groundbreaking research, industry trends and information to help businesses of any size along the way. 

We’re here to help guide you through the first steps of introducing learning analytics to your business. 

First things first… Step one: Understanding what is meant by “learning analytics”

Learning analytics is the measurement, collection, analysis and reporting of data about learners, learning experiences and learning programs for purposes of understanding and optimizing learning and its impact on an organization’s performance. 

Step two: Understanding why your organization might need learning analytics

Increasingly, data analytics within learning is one of the industry’s hottest trends and more and more organizations are looking to bring learning analytics to the center of its practice. Unfortunately, some stakeholders might need a little more convincing so here are a quick few benefits to get you thinking:

  • Identify what’s working & what’s not with your current learning strategy.  Then, reduce costs by removing segments that don’t add value to your learners (leadership can’t argue with that right?!) 
  • Identify key skills gaps within specific teams and the whole organization so you know where you can upskill and where you need to recruit.
  • Personalize learning to produce learning experiences that are more relevant to the individual and their goals
  • Identify learner behaviors to help introduce learning in the workflow 

Step three: Identifying what you need to measure & how you’ll measure it

Let’s be real for a minute. We’d be lying if we were to say that the ultimate end goal of any investment into learning and development wasn’t to then prove its ROI. For example, an effective sales training program should result in an increase in sales for the business. But first, we need to walk before we can run. 

When first getting started with learning analytics, you’ll need to identify what you need to measure and how you’ll measure it. This could be as simple as course completion rates for the mandatory training of 100 users, or it could be as complex as learning what time of day learners tend to log on and via which device. 

Our new eBook, ‘Adding data and learning analytics to your organization’ can help you answer these questions in more detail. The eBook covers selecting the right evaluation model for you and how a Learning Record Store can help you meet your performance goals. 

Step 4: Deciding if you need an LRS

In an age where my phone can predict what time I am leaving the office and therefore will check the current traffic status to tell me the fastest route home, it doesn’t seem like much to ask that our learning systems work together. They don’t seem to be the most complex pieces of software in existence, so why is it that sometimes they behave like it?

Getting control of learning data should be at the top of the ‘to do’ list for every L&D department and in part of the process of getting started, the next logical question is to decide whether or not you need to invest in a Learning Record Store and if so, how you’ll implement it alongside your existing learning platforms. 

What is an LRS?

A Learning Record Store is a database that stores, manages and performs analysis on learning data. An LRS can be part of a Learning Management System (LMS) or Learning Experience Platform (LXP) that supports the xAPI data format, or a standalone system.

From open-source and enterprise to BI tools and customizable dashboards there is a lot to consider when selecting an LRS. Our ‘Learning Technology Manager’s Guide to xAPI’ has everything you need to help you understand the role of the LRS in learning analytics and the ever more confusing xAPI specification for collecting and storing data. 

Our Learning Locker is the world’s most widely-installed LRS and if you’d like to learn more about it in action you can read how Villeroy & Boch demonstrated a $2m return on investment

If you’re still unsure where you are in your learning analytics journey, use our Learning Analytics Maturity Model to find out. Take the 10-minute survey now

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