Required training, or training courses outside the academic curriculum, are a regular necessity in schools and colleges for students. These training sessions, whether it’s school rules, mental health, diversity training, sexual harassment, or myriad other topics, are often challenging to track for progress and completion.
Since the start of the pandemic, these trainings, like everything else, have gone online, and research shows only a 5-15% completion rate for online courses generally. Since much of this training will probably stay online when the in-person learning resumes, it’s worth looking at the challenges for tracking completion and how we can get students to check these off the to-do list.
ELearning Industry cites a number of reasons for students not completing required online courses. Here are a few common problems with proposed solutions (some of these also apply to in-person training):
- Too much in one course- A course packed with too much information can look pretty daunting, especially when it’s required training on top of a student’s regular course load. One solution is breaking the course into smaller, bite-sized chunks. The fancy word for this is microlearning, and doing this can increase course engagement by 50%. TalentLMS recommends short videos, checklists, infographics, and even gifs for making training easier to digest.
- Poor time management- Sometimes students are too busy, or they just don’t have good time management skills. Consider a schedule planner or text/email reminders. Prompt users to schedule it on their calendars. Research shows that students sent weekly reminders had a 40% higher completion rate.
- Too much flexibility- Not having to show up at a certain time for a class is an advantage of online learning but also a challenge. Sometimes, it’s just too easy to put it off. Give a clear deadline for completion. This can increase completion rates by over 30%.
- Not having clear goals and reasons-– Make sure the goal of the training is clearly stated and that students know why the course is necessary. Any time training can be connected to the “real world” outside of school, or at least a clear statement on how it will make their school experience more successful and enjoyable, can greatly help get students motivated and over the finish line.
- Lack of student support- Without a teacher or other students to turn to in a regular classroom, online students may be more apt to give up when running into a roadblock.
ELearning Industry recommends making it easy for students to ask for help by providing multiple options for getting support on the learning platform, including:
- An FAQ document or knowledge base covering the most common issues. Using a tool such as Discover™ can help eliminate a lot of confusion for students.
- Email or instant message support, especially for technical issues.
- Follow Accessibility requirements– Make sure all learners have what they need, whether it’s screen readers, extra processing time, or materials in an alternate format.
Recognize completion and follow-up on incompletes. Consider prizes, printable certificates, or at least an email of recognition. For incompletes, follow-up and find out what the obstacle is and get students to commit to a new deadline.
Optimize your training for mobile. Most of the world now accesses the internet through mobile devices. Giving students this option will make it easier for them to fit into their schedule and work on it at lunch or waiting for a ride.
Tracking student progress on required trainings can be relatively easy with the right technology.
- Learning Management Software (LMS) offers a range of tools for managing online learning, including tracking. According to The Tech Advocate, LMS’s are also able to lock certain parts of the material until students have completed a quiz or other activity, thus indicating student progress. Software such as Launch™ Online Orientation and Training can apply student registration holds until training is completed.
- A Training Management System is a specialized type of software for managing training processes for instructor-led training. Unlike LMSs that are learner centric, TMS’s target administrators and organizational activities that happen before class takes place. This could include tracking and also managing session plans, bookings, and logistics.
- Click-analytics and hotspots can also be helpful. Here you can view page-by-page, what students are clicking, and where their mouse hovers. This information could be helpful in seeing if students are stuck on something.
- Automated Messaging: Using automated messaging tools such as Comevo’s Nudge automated messaging tool will help students stay on track with completion and non-completion messaging to your students.
- Getting students to finish required training and tracking completion will always be a challenge, but the right tools can make it a lot easier.