Have You Considered Asking Your Learners Whether They Need to Take the Course?

Have You Considered Asking Your Learners Whether They Need to Take the Course?


Richard Nantel


Learning administrators can at times suffer from a certain smugness. Although it's unlikely that they have met the vast majority of the learners in their learning management system (LMS), these administrators are confident that they know—with absolute certainty—what learners need.

These admins will enthusiastically click away, enrolling learners into courses and curricula. In the minds of these learning professionals, mother knows best and they are mother.

"Eat your broccoli. Clean your room. Take these courses."

If these LMS administrators are feeling generous, they may let the learner "test out" of a course or curriculum. Learners who pass the exam will be exempt from having to complete the other activities. This is the learning and development equivalent of being allowed to eat dessert even though you didn't touch your dinner. Here's the problem: bulk assigning learners to a course or curriculum may make sense in some situations but not all. In some cases, you're providing valuable learning opportunities to people who will benefit from the experience. In others, you'll be wasting the learner's time by making them take courses they may not need. Here's a better idea: why not allow the learners to assess their own strengths and weaknesses by asking them what they are good at? Some learning administrators will instinctively recoil at the thought of allowing learners to assess themselves. Won't this lead to anarchy and a world filled with self-described `experts' who in fact have no skills? I believe that most people are pretty honest and will assess their own skills to the best of their abilities. Few would risk saying they are experts in, say, project management when they have little experience in that area. After all, being assigned a large complex project without the necessary skills to ensure its successful completion would not be the best career move. Self-assessments can be powerful tools. Best of all, some learning management systems can issue competencies/badges/certificates as well as automatically enroll learners into courses based on the answers provided. Example: QUESTION: "How would you rate your skills as a project manager?"

  • ANSWER 1: "I'm an expert. I'm skilled in one or more project management methodologies such as PMBOK, Six Sigma, Agile, etc." RESULTING LMS ACTION: Assign the project management competency/badge/certificate to the learner.
  • ANSWER 2:"I'm OK. I've managed some projects within schedule and budget, mostly by being organized." RESULTING LMS ACTION:Enroll the learner into an exam on project management to better evaluate his or her skill level.
  • ANSWER 3:"I'm a newbie. I'll do my best but you've been warned." RESULTING LMS ACTION: Enroll the learner into a project management curriculum.

Sometimes, the easiest way to evaluate a person's skill level is simply to ask the person.

Related Posts

Want To Learn More About Absorb?

See how Absorb LMS can help you better grow your business through learning.