How to Ensure Your Program’s Success Through Evaluation
As you’re probably aware, there’s a huge difference between completing a course and successfully applying the knowledge you’ve learned to get the results you want.
In this vlog, you'll not only learn how to ensure your audience understand the content you've presented but also how to improve the effectiveness of your product, all through the process of evaluation.
I Did It! But Did I Do It Right?
Right before I launched my new business, I took a six-month business training course online. Although it was chock full of killer content along with some worksheets, it was really just a large info dump. It seemed never-ending, going through all the modules, wading through waves of information.
But, I plowed through and made it through the end. I remembered how proud I felt after I checked off the last module.
I did it! I was done!
Not only was there a ton of content, so much that it could never be memorized, but it was also really rich and intense. Most of the information was new to me, too.
So after that triumphant moment of checking off the box for the last module, a daunting question loomed over my head:
What am I going to do with this motherlode of information that I’ve learned over the past six months?
So I began to implement what I had learned by going back through my notes for each lesson, and I created an action plan for my budding business.
I fully embraced the challenge of making this content real in my life. I was really excited to take this on.
But, as I started to plan, I started to feel a little lost.
Then all the “what ifs” and self-doubt started to cave in on me.
Was I actually doing something productive? Was I going in the right direction? Had I really learned the material well enough to see results in my business?
How will I know if I am actually successful?
I had all these questions with no real way to answer them. It really started to freak me out. I started to panic.
I had invested a lot of my time and money into this course, so I need some confirmation that this was all worth it.
Completing the course wasn’t enough.
A Review of Gagné’s Nine Events of Instruction
We’re nearing the end of our journey through Robert Gagné’s nine events of instruction. Here’s a brief recap of what we’ve covered so far.
- The first event: Grab your audience’s attention.
- The second event: Paint the big picture of where you’re headed with your content.
- The third event: Create bridges between previously learned and new knowledge through memory recall.
- The fourth event: Provide your content.
- The fifth event: Guide your audience through your content.
- The sixth event: Provide safe places for your audience to practice what they learned.
- The seventh event: Give timely and helpful feedback.
So now we’re at the eighth event: evaluate the performance of your product and the impact it has helped your learners create.
Evaluation: A Strategy for Securing Success
Not only did this online course lack any opportunities to practice or receive feedback on how we were doing, it always was lacking a clear evaluation strategy--both for the students and for the course creator. This involves both self-evaluations as a student and evaluation from the instructor.
As a student, the best way to self-evaluate is to measure performance based on the course objectives.
What should you be able to do by the time you’re done with this course? What should you have learned and mastered? Course objectives should plainly lay that out for learners.
As an info product provider, evaluating a learner’s success will help you assess what’s working, and not working, with your course. That’s important because if there are certain aspects that people aren’t grabbing onto, your learners will get stuck and/or drop out of the course.
And you don't figure out what those issues are; then you can guarantee it will eventually affect your bottom line.
(After all, who is going to recommend something to their friends, that they didn’t even complete? According to Sales Prospecting for Dummies by Tom Hopkins, you can count on about a 10 percent closing rate for ordinary leads versus a 60 percent closing rate for leads that come through a referral.)
Refining your content for better results will take time. But there is the pressure to just throw up something so you can start making sales. Steve Yacovelli from Talent Development Magazine explains this tension between the need for quality and the need for speed this way:
"Since there's a need for more online content, the focus for developers of this type of learning is on rapid development: "Create it fast!" "Be timely!" "Use template-driven solutions!" While there's plenty of value in rapid development and deployment, there's also a potential that rapidly comes at the cost of quality."
How to Evaluate Your Info Product
Here are a few ways you can evaluate the success of your audience and to allow them to self-evaluate their own learning journeys.
- Create good course objectives. What are your learners working toward? What’s the ultimate goal? What’s the "promise" you’re giving? Your course objectives should be clear and comprehensible, right from the start.
- Conduct surveys throughout the course. Find out what learners have enjoyed and disliked about your course. The frequency of the surveys depends on the length of the course. For example, if you’re running a 6-week program, I recommend you do this at least weekly. If you’re running a shorter program, then conduct your survey at the end of each 1-hour lesson. Note: While this type of survey helps to measure immediate customer satisfaction, it does not measure impact or long-term success.
- Monitor activity throughout the program. Keep track of how your learners are doing. Are there some participants getting stuck? If so, is it at the same place as everyone else, or is it scattered throughout the course? Who is dropping out and when? Getting answers to these questions will help you to improve your course as well as to find the ideal students who would get the most out of what you’re offering.
- Follow up immediately at the end of a program. You should also do this after six weeks, six months, and after one year. Through following up, you'll be able to really determine what impact your information made on the learner. What business or life results did the program make and what are the success measures? Remember, you should offer these success measures at the beginning of the course. Learners should know what they are aiming for throughout the course.
If you're unsure of where, to begin with your course evaluation, then this guide can help you get started.
Evaluation Ensures Quality Products and Experiences
When you’re consistently evaluating your course, you not only can help your learners while they are learning, but you can also make corrections in real-time to help improve the chances of your learners succeeding.
Having an evaluation process can not only help the future of your program but help with the creation of your future programs. Simply put--you won't be making the same mistakes twice.
As a business owner, if you want to continue to deliver high-quality products, then evaluations of your courses should be a part of a mandatory part of your course creation process. If you want you and your brand to be known for its quality products, then evaluations will help you be on point.
The evaluation also helps you keep in touch with your customers. You don't just give them a large info dump of information and walk away. By following up with them, you show that you care about their success, which can help to create long-term relationships.
Those learners who really had their lives changed by what you've given them will be your best marketers through word of mouth and testimonials.
When it comes to creating great content and long-term relationships with your clients, you have to be intentional. If you just throw up some videos and call it a course, then you're probably just thinking about the short-term benefits of providing information. To ensure your long-term success of your business, as well as of your learners, you have to think about the long-term and then act accordingly.
Got any questions or tips about how to effectively evaluate your course? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.