Improving E-Learning Results

Martec International Ltd. has been developing and delivering e-learning training for over 20 years. We focus on delivering high value content for retailers, consumer goods companies and providers of technology and services to those sectors. We specialise in the serious content that will lift your business and impact the bottom line. Hence it is crucially important that our e-learning delivers results. It isn’t enough just to use it to demonstrate compliance with business processes and industry regulations.

Over the years, we have developed a series of approaches to making e-learning more effective, some of which are exclusive to Martec.

In addition to high value content, we do a number of other things to make e-learning more effective, but there are two that are most important.

 

Ask the Expert

All classes authored by Martec include an Ask the Expert link. As part of their licence fee, a class learner can click on the link and send an email question to a subject matter expert free of charge. The questions can be anything related to the subject under study, but most of them are either questions of clarification about the content, queries about mastery tests or exercise answers, and requests for advice on how to apply the knowledge they have learned in their day job.

Our subject matter experts will answer these questions within 5 business days, but usually we do it in 2. There is no limit on how many questions a learner can ask and users of this service are generally very complimentary about the responses they receive.

In our more complex content, we sometimes include exercises where there is no right or wrong answer. Any answer may be right depending on the circumstances. The learner has to answer a question in free form and then compare their answer with the one the class provides. At that point they are reminded that they can “Ask the Expert” (a real live expert) about aspects of the answer they may not agree with or not understand. This level of interaction is unique to Martec as far as we know.

 

Web-Based Group Tutorial Sessions

 

Collaborative training is something learners value.  We often add this for clients training groups of people. This is a chargeable extra for small groups but can be free for large learner populations.

It works as follows:

Learners study one lesson a week, say. They complete it one day before the end of the week. At any time that week they can email questions to our help desk. The questions are collated and reviewed by a consultant. The consultant also reviews that week’s test scores to see how the learners did. If there were questions that multiple learners seemed to struggle with the consultant notes that fact.

On the last day of the week the consultant hosts a live webinar, usually an hour long, but occasionally a bit longer. Depending on the client it could be a lunch and learn event. The consultant decides whether he or she can answer the pre-submitted questions verbally in the webinar or whether a slide or two is necessary to answer a question properly. If so, they prepare suitable content in advance.


The typical agenda for the webinar is:

• A review of the key learnings from that week’s module
• Revision of any aspect of last week’s content where the test scores indicated a need
• A review of the questions submitted in advance
• Depending on the content of that week’s module, either an individual or a group exercise. If the client has suitable staff to assist, the exercises can get quite sophisticated but then the webinar takes a bit longer, up to 90 minutes. These exercises can address specific client processes too.
• Participants can ask ad hoc questions as the webinar progresses
• Finally, the instructor gives a “heads up” for what to look out for in the next module.

Our experience indicates that learning to a pre-set schedule followed by weekly group webinars greatly increases the attention that learners pay and the value from the program increases dramatically.

One or two clients reinforce the impact by having a senior manager participate in occasional webinars. Not knowing whether their ultimate boss might be taking part this week, but knowing that they do sometimes, greatly improves the attention level.

We believe that this way of reinforcing successful learning is also unique to Martec.

Overall, these two approaches increase the stickiness and therefore effectiveness of e-learning. They strike a good blend of the efficiency of e-learning with periodic live instructor and group interaction, without the excess cost of face to face instructor-led classes.

 

Learner Convenience

Many learners appreciate the freedom to study when it suits them and to be able to arrange training around their work schedule and business appointments.

Under our learning management system, our classes are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, every week of the year. Learners can study when it suits them best.

Some of our training suites involve up to 10 modules and up to 10 hours of study, an average of an hour per module. However, we recommend not studying more than 30 minutes or so per day. Our modules are organised into a series of sub-topics and these last for 5 to 10 minutes. If a learner wants to have a short burst of 10 minutes, they can simply study the next topic and stop there. Our classes save where the learner got to last time. When they log in again, the program asks whether he or she would like to resume where they left off or they can go straight to the module menu and pick a new topic. This gives the benefit of micro-learning without having to dumb down essential content.


Managerial Control and Oversight

Over the years we have noticed how results go up when learners know that management is watching their progress attentively. For clients accessing our classes on our Learning Management System, we provide a nominated client manager with free access to the same performance monitoring facilities that we use. This allows the client to easily see how many learners have started or finished the program, how many modules they have completed and whether they passed the mastery tests. Letting learners know that someone important is monitoring this is a valuable thing to do.

 

Learner Motivation

A recent survey (February 2020) showed that mastery testing which is managed and reported is the biggest single motivation to complete a program successfully with maximum engagement. We write demanding mastery tests that you can’t pass without studying the program properly and our pass mark is 80%. When you have passed our tests you know you have achieved something.

When learners complete the mastery test at the end of one of our programs, we will email them a certificate of achievement. If they complete our end of class survey and provide their full address, we will also mail them a nicely designed certificate printed on a quality card and signed by our Managing Director. It looks rather like a college graduation certificate. Where clients like to do it, we will provide a batch of signed certificates also including the client’s logo and a position for a company executive to also sign them. These can then be presented at a formal company meeting. One of our clients in the Middle East, for example, had 120 learners graduate 2 or 3 programs each. We provided the certificates (free of charge) and a company director participated in a formal graduation presentation.

Since we offered these certificates, pass rates have gone up noticeably as have survey responses. We analyse the responses carefully to see how we can improve each of our programs. We know from the survey analysis that our classes are rated at least 20% above the e-learning industry average because of these measures.

We also provide a copy of the survey analysis to corporate clients with groups of learners.

 

Summary

All companies need professionals that can do their job well and develop their careers internally rather than generating excessive churn and increased recruitment costs. We continually pay attention to how we can increase the success level our clients achieve and have developed a number of techniques that mark us out from the crowd.


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