Measurable Goals: the Difference Between E-learning Success and Failure

Think back on every one of your failed New Year’s resolutions. The reason you failed probably had something to do with abstract, unspecific goals: get thin, exercise more, enjoy life more. Without clarity, it’s nearly impossible to figure out how to succeed. You’re doomed by January 2.


Bilski and software patents

Goals should be less abstract, more concrete

[Image: Flickr user opensourceway]

The same kind of thinking can harm a new e-learning project. Unspecific goal-setting can prevent you from knowing if your e-learning project is a success. If before you begin developing your training curriculum, you specify abstract goals like, “train employees,” “put this PowerPoint presentation online,” or “set up e-learning infrastructure,” you’re bound for failure. Instead, think about what success looks like, think about how you’ll arrive at success, and you’ll know if your online training program is doing what it should.

An easier way of arriving at a list of goals is to pose these simple questions to yourself or your team:

  • Why do you want to do the training?
  • What will your learners get out of it?

When you answer these questions, make sure to attach a number (like a percentage), so it’s measurable and a due date, so you have a focus and target–a must for continued funding.

Measurable, actionable and realistic e-learning goals

As soon as you pose meaningful questions to your team, you’ll find it’s much easier to create measurable, actionable and realistic e-learning goals. That will also help you keep spending in check and calculate the return on your e-learning investment. Training programs are expensive, so you need to be able to show how well your new e-learning initiative works.

What might those goals look like?

  • Transfer 50% of training programs into online format by the end of the next fiscal year.
  • Train 95% of employees in HIPAA requirements by January 1.
  • Increase awareness of new products by 25% among sales staff by the end of the quarter.
  • Successfully operate new medical device in five minutes or less by the product launch.

See how easily you’d be able to see if you met those goals or not? Prefix each list item with “Did we …” and you can answer each by a simple yes or no. Also by setting goals at the beginning, you’ll have something concrete to shoot for.

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