February 8, 2022

The Importance of Measuring Learner Engagement


Est. Reading: 4 minutes

By Christopher Rousset, Managing Director Americas & VP Global Alliances, LMS365

The digital transformation has pushed organizations to approach skills shortages by investing in corporate learning. With this, business leaders are facing the challenge of accurately measuring engagement in order to ensure that training programs are efficient and effective.

Learner Engagement And Effective Training

As automation and digital transformation create new skilling imperatives, corporate talent developers are consistently challenged to drive higher learning engagement. But measuring engagement isn’t simple algebra—the industry has yet to converge on a standard for measurement.

There are common metrics Learning and Development leaders use, and each of these metrics can certainly tell a great deal of information about how learners are interacting with their courses. But they don’t necessarily demonstrate engagement and retention. Let’s explore how organizations can measure and improve learning engagement to improve skilling outcomes.

Digging Into Learner Engagement

Learner engagement is a measure of the extent to which an individual is attending to or participating in specific learning tasks or activities. The definition is quite vague, and the means to measure it are open-ended. That’s because engagement happens during both the training and the learning processes but also after these activities are completed. It can include not only how much time a learner has paid attention during training but also the extent to which the individual shared the knowledge they’ve gained with their peers or managers.

As digitalization accelerates and new technologies such as AI and automation continue to shape the business landscape, training and learning are essential for reskilling the workforce. However, if staff is not engaged in the learning process, the impact of reskilling efforts is futile. Individuals will be less likely to gain new competencies and skills in the areas that are critical for productivity and growth, for both the individual and the business at large. By measuring engagement, organizations gain a greater understanding of the learning process and how well (or not) it’s supporting the skills needs of its workforce.

Challenges Of Measurement

When it comes to measuring and driving learning engagement, L&D leaders are challenged to identify criteria and factors that are valid to use across different types of learning activities. In fact, LinkedIn’s 2020 Workplace Learning Report found that “the industry has yet to converge on a true north metric for engagement.” The report also found that Learning and Development professionals commonly quantify engagement with metrics, including course completions, learner satisfaction, minutes of learning per month, and repeat visits per month.

While these metrics are not exactly useless, they’re not necessarily effective ways to assess engagement or what learners have learned throughout the process. After all, when an organization pushes training out to a user base, it’s quite possible individuals have courses on in the background while completing other work. And when it comes to the learner satisfaction component, typical measurement techniques such as surveys can be biased, too.

On top of this, many organizations do not have systems in place to effectively measure learning activities. LinkedIn’s research found that 24% of global L&D pros don’t measure learner engagement based on online usage data. But this is even more important today as the workforce has gone remote and face-to-face training, where engagement can be somewhat measured through each individual’s participation in the classroom, is not possible.

Measure What Matters

Before, it was easier to see if someone was engaged or not. For example, an individual looking at their phone the whole time is pretty clear evidence. When you’re in an online learning environment, that makes things a little bit more challenging. Organizations often lack the systems and capabilities to capture learning data and analyze results.

The first step in the effective measurement of a learning program is to measure how well individuals understood the content that was delivered. L&D leaders can use knowledge assessments and quizzes for this purpose.

The second half of the equation requires looking at the collaborative aspect of learning. One of the best ways to measure how engaged learners are is by assessing how much employees are engaging with other users through sharing or recommending courses to others after they’ve completed them. If a user is engaged, they’ll be excited and want to share their experience with others. Through modern learning solutions, L&D pros have access to rich data on quizzes and content sharing so they can easily track engagement.

Finally, organizations need to focus on the outcomes of learning. Rather than vanity metrics, such as minutes spent learning, a true indicator of learning engagement is whether skill gaps are truly being filled through training. L&D managers must look at the specific roles and jobs that require new skill sets regularly and see if learners are really acquiring the required skills during the learning process.

Prepared For Success

Measurement is integral to the success of L&D initiatives. Yet not all metrics are equal. There are still no industry standards in this respect, leaving some L&D leaders to slog through data on their own in hopes of finding some relevant measure to demonstrate effectiveness. What matters most in determining learning success is how engaged learners are. It’s an indication not just that they enjoyed what they learned but that they will retain it, as well. That is the ultimate goal and success metric: a workforce with the skills needed to keep the organization relevant and competitive. Measuring this metric necessitates a learning solution able to track employee interaction, comments, and sharing. These best practices will help L&D leaders achieve program and business goals and prepare employees for the future.

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