How effective is your learning evaluation?

The evaluation of training is too important to be left to trainers. At the individual intervention level, at the strategic enterprise level, and at all points inbetween, the quality assurance processes applied to formal learning initiatives in most organizations are, in my experience, rudimentary at best. Training departments are usually stretched thin, and don’t have the time or resources to do a “proper” quality assurance job at either the course level or at the aggregate departmental level. Implementing a regimen that elevates the strategic importance of evaluation (across all levels) and places it on a more professional level will do two vital things. It will improve significantly the effectiveness and efficiency of all learning activities; and it will save a tremendous amount of unnecessary, un-useful, or redundant work. My fear is that with the advent of LMS-based evaluation and record-keeping, the information we have about the quality of our learning activities is becoming more narrowly focused, and its usefulness is becoming further diluted. Just as LMS functionality tends to constrain the nature of our design of instruction, it constrains the nature of our inquiry into its impact. I’d like to see more training departments creating evaluation units and staffing them with a trained expert or two who can help get past the simplistic “smile-sheet & ROI” approach and start building systems that put the important issues on the dashboards of individual trainers, instructional designers, and senior learning managers.

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