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An important component of any training program is tracking. You need to know how well your learners or employees are doing with the training. This is especially vital in required training where you need evidence that everyone completed it and met the requirements. Here are 6 tips to keep in mind regarding tracking for your mobile training strategy.
Please note this article was originally posted by our team on elearningindustry.com.
It’s easy for trainers to get caught up in a “tracking first” mindset. They want to force training to fit in a format and platform they’re comfortable using to monitor learner progress and data. The thing is, Learning on the Go is different. You are not bound to the normal or familiar ways of delivering training. In fact, your mobile training strategy is doomed if you don’t treat it as a unique venture!
mLearning has 3 primary formats: a self-contained module or game, a mobile-compatible website, or a mobile app that learners download to a device. You can track learners’ experiences in all 3 of these. Therefore, select the format that works best for your content and project scope without worrying about tracking capabilities.
The same concept applies to the delivery platform. You can track detailed data if the mLearning is hosted on your LMS, a website, or as an app. We’ve heard multiple organizations say, “We didn’t make an app because we didn’t know how to track learners’ scores.” Don’t fall into this trap! Skilled programmers can send information to a database from nearly any platform. Choose one that will be easy for your learners to access when and where they need it.
Before you start making any decisions about tracking methods, decide what information you need to collect. Basic information includes complete/incomplete, time spent in the learning experience, passed/failed, and a score. However, if you want to track more detailed data, the possibilities are endless. You can measure how long learners spend on a specific slide of an mLearning module or playing a level of a game. You can identify which quiz questions learners consistently get right, which ones the majority gets wrong, and which questions they spend the most time answering. You can go as far as tracking the order in which a learner clicks items in an interactive activity.
The level of intricacy you’re looking for will shape how you track information, along with the delivery platform. If you’re making an mLearning module and only need basic information, you could use default SCORM coding and place it in your LMS. There’s no need to add advanced tracking abilities if it’s not necessary to your training plan.
If your department or organization will benefit from collecting detailed information, you may need to use xAPI and/or an analytics tool. List out all the information you’d like to track, just like you’d create an outline of all the training content, so you can evaluate the best solution for your needs.
We said the possibilities are endless. However, use caution when you make your list of tracking needs. We had a client last year who wanted to track every possible action a learner makes during a machinery training simulation. Thankfully, before we even had a chance to respond, one of her colleagues said, “Then what are you going to do with all that information?” She quickly realized she would not have time to sort and evaluate all that data. The machinery they were training on wasn’t going to change. Their process would stay the same, whether learners found it easy or hard. In this instance, it wasn’t worth the investment it would have taken to build a system that could track all that data.
The technology for advanced tracking is in place and accessible. It’s just important to keep in mind that, like any cool features in online training, it takes time to set up. There’s not a magical switch that drops information into your lap.
Experience API, called xAPI, makes it possible to collect details on a learner’s actions, like the machinery simulation mentioned above. xAPI can communicate with an LMS, like SCORM or AICC tracking does, yet offers infinitely more information than its counterparts. You can use xAPI in a module, website, and even a downloadable app.
Here’s an overly simplified explanation of how xAPI works. Programmers, also called developers, place listeners in the learning experience. They listen for the learner to perform a certain action, such as clicking a button. When that action transpires, the listener sends a message to a database. The database records the message in the corresponding landing spot. This means the programmer has to make a listener and design a landing spot for each tracked item.
Training directors or team supervisors can log into the database to see the collated messages. Depending on how the system is designed, they may be able to see charts of learner trends, compare the performance of employees in different departments, and observe which sections of the training learners revisited.
xAPI is rapidly gaining traction. Major eLearning development programs like Articulate Storyline and Adobe Captivate allow you to program xAPI statements in modules. Also, many LMS companies now offer built-in Learning Record Stores, LRSs, to receive xAPI statements. If your LMS does not have robust xAPI support, or if you choose to host your mLearning outside your LMS, then programmers can create an independent LRS to serve as your database.
Another way to track information about your learners is to add a third-party analytics tool. One of the most popular ones is Google Analytics. Their basic package is free and links to your google account. Another option is Matomo. To set up either of these, you paste a code into each page of your website. Then, each time a learner visits that page, it automatically collects data and sends it to the tool’s established database. You’d log into your Google or Matomo account to access the data it gathered for you.
Analytics tools are designed for the marketing sector rather than the Learning & Development realm. Yet, they can collect 2 key categories of information to training departments: user demographics and device usage. Knowing which mobile devices and browsers learners are using to access Learning on the Go allows you to focus your development and testing procedures on the most commonly-used instances.
Some LMSs allow you to incorporate analytics tools. If you have that ability, you’ll be able to collect demographic and device usage data. However, an LMS treats each module as one page. Therefore, analytics tools cannot track learner behavior in the module, such as how long they spend on a particular slide. Analytics tools can only provide page-by-page data if your training is designed as an actual website.
The most important part of tracking comes after you deploy the Learning on the Go - use the data! Assess the strengths and weaknesses of your training program. If possible, revise the training. Or, if that’s not practical, then apply what you learned to the next training you create.
If you used xAPI, see if there are elements of the training that learners repeatedly found problematic. Consider talking with a few learners to understand what was troublesome. Were the instructions unclear? Is the process or task itself illogical? You could uncover changes your company needs to make based on learner behavior in a simulation!
Managers or supervisors may use the data to gauge high performers on their team and identify individuals who need additional coaching. There’s no right or wrong way to assess data. It’s subjective to what you’re training. Whatever you do, don’t ignore the data you worked so hard to track.
In summary, here’s the sequence of events we recommend for tracking learner data. Decide what you need to track, work with your programmers or a development partner to determine the best way to track that data, then assess the data as it comes in. You can leverage the data to make continuous improvements throughout your organization.
To learn more about mobile learning and how you can implement it into your training strategy, download our eBook, Developing A Mobile Learning Solution That Embraces Anytime Anywhere Learning, today!