1. There are many ways to gauge the effectiveness of your online training programs.

Course flexibility correlates heavily with the level of staff participation.

Jennifer Moore, RN-BC, DNS-CT, CDP, WCC, director of curriculum design and research at Relias strongly advises offering curriculum that allows employees to bookmark their progress. And online should mean offsite; participation plummets if staff need to spend extra time getting to the course.

Matt McGuire, lead product manager, learning and development, at HealthcareSource, a provider of talent management software and services, agrees.

“The majority of employees in healthcare need to be able to access and complete education in short bursts during downtime or on personal time,” he says. 

In the same vein, staff tend to favor courses that have a beginning and an end. 

“Completion rates for open-ended programs are generally pretty bad, five to 15 percent,” McGuire adds. “Individuals who volunteer for educational opportunities without follow-up or coaching often lose interest in them before completion.”

2. Blended curriculums have a good track record.

“It may be tempting to abandon classroom training altogether for online learning. It’s cheaper, more efficient, and more convenient for supervisors. But, e-learning is not the only or best way,” says Stacey Tavarez, RN, director of clinical content for In the Know, a caregiver training resources provider.

There will always be times when instructor-led, classroom training is best “because caregivers need specific, hands-on training in a supportive environment where they can ask questions, receive feedback, and enjoy the camaraderie of connecting with peers.”

3. Learning management systems (LMS) work well for basic progress tracking needs, whether you’re tracking quantitative data that measures completion rates and test scores to identify knowledge gaps, or qualitative data to ask staff what they learned and how they would apply it to their jobs, says Moore. 

“For the most part, an LMS will get you most of the way if you’re trying to accomplish the basic task of tracking learning and development tasks,” says McGuire. However, organizations looking at the “bigger picture” of talent development may want to consider using performance management and behavioral assessment solutions as an adjunct to LMS.

4. Set reasonable, achievable and trackable development goals.

Tavarez describes one scenario that employs gamification to reward course progress and completion. The system uses a leaderboard and staff earn reward points along the way to track their own progress, and earn badges by going above and beyond the minimum training requirements.

Moore emphasizes the importance of having “a healthy mix” of both team and personal goals with each online learning assignment. In any event, “make sure you are allowing enough time from other duties to properly learn and apply the material,” she says. “Then track the progress over time, making sure the learner and you are on the same page about how improvement will be tracked.”

5. Continuously fine tune your curriculum to ensure it stays relevant.

“Asking people what they are interested in learning can be accomplished through the performance evaluation process either formally or informally,” Moore says. “Match this to job duties so that you develop an area of expertise they will actually do on the job and yield fruit for them and the organization.”