Improve LMS courses with training feedback

Improve LMS courses with training feedback


Absorb LMS


Learners love to contribute to improving products. Even better—engaging with them can deepen their loyalty. This applies to courses in your learning management system (LMS)—and is true whether your learners are employees, channel partners, customers, or a blend of all three.

Asking for feedback on training content is unusual. And instructional designers and developers who do include a survey with their training generally ask superficial questions about whether the learner "enjoyed" training—so much so that the surveys are often referred to as "smile sheets." This is a missed opportunity. Soliciting learner feedback and asking the right questions can drive improvements in existing courses—and spark the creation of new learning resources.

Benefits of implementing LMS user feedback

Integrating user training feedback into the refinement process of LMS courses is not just a practice of soliciting opinions; it's a critical strategy. In the world of online education and training, where learner engagement and effectiveness are paramount, user feedback is critical. From offering invaluable insights into course content to fostering a culture of continuous improvement, the importance of actively seeking and implementing user feedback cannot be overstated. Let's look at some of the top reasons why incorporating user feedback is essential in optimizing LMS courses:

  • Insightful perspectives: User feedback offers unique insights and perspectives that may not be apparent to course creators
  • Course improvement: Incorporating user feedback allows for targeted improvements to course content, structure, and delivery methods
  • Enhanced engagement: Actively seeking and responding to user feedback fosters a sense of engagement and ownership among learners
  • Customized learning experience: Feedback helps tailor the learning experience to better meet the needs and preferences of the target audience
  • Quality assurance: User feedback serves as a valuable quality assurance mechanism, helping identify errors, inconsistencies, or areas for improvement
  • Culture of continuous improvement: Embracing user feedback promotes a culture of continuous improvement, driving innovation and evolution within the learning ecosystem
  • Stakeholder satisfaction: Addressing user feedback demonstrates a commitment to stakeholder satisfaction, enhancing relationships with learners
  • Competitive advantage: Organizations that leverage user feedback effectively gain a competitive advantage by offering more relevant and effective learning experiences
  • Loyalty and retention: Actively soliciting and acting upon user feedback cultivates loyalty and retention among learners, leading to long-term relationships and repeat engagement
  • Alignment with user needs: Incorporating user feedback ensures that course offerings align closely with the evolving needs and expectations of the target audience

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"Smile sheets" aren't enough

In recent years, there's been a growing recognition that traditional "smile sheets" often fail to provide meaningful insights into the effectiveness of training programs. Instead, researchers and practitioners are increasingly turning to more robust evaluation methodologies that examine learner engagement, knowledge retention, and skill application.

Dr. Will Thalheimer, an industry expert on learning evaluation, has critiqued smile sheets extensively and advocated for more effective evaluation methods in his writings and presentations. Despite new and emerging trends, you need to get the foundations right. In his book, Performance-Focused Smile Sheets: A Radical Rethinking of a Dangerous Art Form, Thalheimer highlights the inherent flaws in the conventional approach to end-of-training evaluations, shedding light on their counter-productive nature. He outlines nine key points to underscore this perspective:

  1. Lack of correlation with learning outcomes: Traditional evaluations fail to establish a meaningful connection with actual learning results.
  2. Inability to assess learning interventions: They offer little insight into the efficacy of learning interventions, hindering informed decision-making.
  3. Misleading feedback on improvement: Instead of guiding improvements, these evaluations often misinform about necessary enhancements.
  4. Absence of effective feedback loops: The structure of these evaluations hampers the establishment of constructive feedback loops for continuous improvement.
  5. Failure to inform decision-making: They do not facilitate informed decision-making based on feedback collected from smile sheets.
  6. Limited stakeholder understanding: Stakeholders are often left in the dark regarding the interpretation and significance of smile sheet results.
  7. Provision of misleading information: Conventional evaluations may provide misleading or incomplete information, skewing organizational insights.
  8. Impediment to continuous improvement cycles: By lacking mechanisms for meaningful improvement cycles, they impede organizational progress.
  9. Promotion of dishonest deliberation: They contribute to a culture of superficiality and dishonest deliberation rather than fostering genuine dialogue and improvement.

Thalheimer's critique underscores the urgent need to reassess how training evaluations are designed and executed to drive organizational learning and development.

Instead, learning managers can obtain meaningful survey results by seeking feedback on the actual content. Consider these additional approaches:

  • Providing text boxes for detailed feedback from learners
  • Posing questions that focus on course effectiveness rather than enjoyment
  • Exploring what aspects of the course were most and least useful through open-ended prompts

Harness the power of fault-finders

Some people have an infallible ability to identify an error at 20 paces. Those natural-born editors and fact-checkers are bound to be among your learners, especially in a professional association offering development courses to members, for example.

Learners may become frustrated if they struggle to navigate a course or find the basic information they need is missing. Providing a way to send feedback and ask questions can instead enlist their help in improving course offerings and design.

Strategies include:
  • Establishing channels for learners to report errors and suggest improvements
  • Specifically targeting learner groups, transforming frustration into collaboration by involving learners in the refinement process

Allowing learners to flag errors and suggest corrections or improvements does more than improve the training though. It gives learners a voice, a stake in the training, that can deepen their relationship with your organization. When learners see that you take their feedback seriously and act on it, they feel more invested in the training—and in your brand.

Analyze your results

Soliciting feedback and analyzing that input alongside quiz results and other learner data can be surprising. The information learners provide can highlight problematic content, for example. Even if the content is technically accurate, if many learners find it confusing or unclear, a revision may be in order.

Improving the content might be as simple as revising a section or reworking a problematic quiz question. Or, feedback could point to a need for deeper content, such as additional courses, a curated resources section in your learning management system with optional content or an interactive activity that lets learners exercise their new knowledge. When the only people providing feedback are the subject matter experts and course designers who created a course, unclear or incomplete content is easy to overlook.

Consider these steps:
  • Combine feedback with quiz results and learner data for comprehensive analysis
  • Look for patterns in feedback to pinpoint problematic content
  • Prioritize revisions based on feedback to enhance course clarity and effectiveness

Reap the benefits

Feedback that leads to better training content in your learning management system courses is an obvious way to increase engagement and improve training outcomes. And there's another way corporations can win big: expanding their learning. Consider these advantages:

  • Forge stronger connections with learners through collaborative improvement efforts
  • Enhance your brand's reputation as a learner-centric organization committed to continuous improvement

Implementing user feedback within your organization's LMS is an essential strategy for maximizing learner engagement, retention, and success. By catering to individual learner needs and preferences, you can create engaging and impactful training experiences that support learner growth and drive organizational success.

How Absorb can help your organization optimize user feedback

Ready to take your learner success and productivity to the next level? With our cutting-edge, cloud-based platform, you can design, implement, and manage user feedback that drives real results for your organization. Contact our team today to learn more about how Absorb can help you achieve your goals, gain deeper insights, and take your business to the next level.

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