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How Data and Analytics Drive Change in Corporate Learning

  • 7 Min Read

How to use training data to assess the effectiveness of professional development and drive engagement, retention and long-lasting change.


Over the past two years, we’ve had to fundamentally change how we work and learn. Almost overnight, remote work went from a nice-to-have benefit to a must-have offering. According to a survey by Upwork of more than 1,000 hiring managers, the number of employees working remotely is expected to more than double in the next few years—from 16.8 million people before the pandemic to 36.2 million by 2025.

Professional education and training programs, which aren’t immune from these changes, are now at an inflection point. As we look toward a return to normalcy, we need to ask ourselves what we’re going to keep and what we’re going to let fall by the post-pandemic wayside. How do we make those decisions?

Using learning data and analytics can not only help us answer those questions but take learning and development further—moving it beyond basic skills development to drive engagement, retention and long-lasting change.

Here we take a closer look at the transformative impact learning analytics can have on corporate learning.

What is Learning Analytics?

Before we talk about the impact learning analytics can have, let’s get on the same page about what it is. In essence, learning analytics involves collecting, measuring and analyzing data from all aspects of training to understand the impact it has on the people participating in it, those delivering it or the organization as a whole.

There are three levels to it:

  • The learner: Understand how individuals and groups are interacting with each other and the material. Who’s engaging with the content? What have they completed? Who’s doing well and who needs support?
  • The experience: Assess if the content, including the material and the way it’s structured, is hitting the mark. What feedback are learners providing? How much time are they spending in courses? Are the assessments proving effective?
  • The program: Determine how the program as a whole is performing. Are you seeing the adoption trends you want? Where and how could you direct future investments? Can you quantify and qualify your return on investment?

You may be able to get the majority of this data from your corporate learning management system (LMS). Other times, you’ll want to pull it from employee surveys and other tools within your company’s technology ecosystem, such as a human resources information system (HRIS) or association management software (AMS).

Here are six ways learning analytics can transform corporate training.

1. Intentionally Disrupting the Corporate Learning Landscape

The way organizations deliver professional development is changing. Gone are the days of long training booklets and resource-consuming in-person programs. Instead, our focus has shifted to interactive online experiences that people can access anywhere and that can be tailored to their needs.

The role of analytics in this new world of corporate learning is to:

  • help companies understand what’s working
  • promote active participation and engagement
  • connect training impacts to business outcomes

It’s clear that, across the board, there’s a demand for better learning analytics to help boost productivity, but what organizations can do with their data and how they can make sense of it remains a challenge. Technological innovations are moving fast and increasing learners’ and trainers’ expectations.

2. Prioritizing Learning and Organizational Outcomes

Data can be a double-edged sword at times. On the one hand, modern corporate LMSs and other technologies can make data easier than ever to capture. On the other hand, analyzing the sheer amount of it that exists can prove to be a major challenge.

This is where the need for a well-defined data strategy comes into play. You need to be able to identify the data that’s most important to your organization and prioritize which elements you want to analyze first based on your unique needs, values, mission and vision.

3. Enabling More Comprehensive Data Collection

With so much data out there, only a fraction of the learning data that organizations collect typically gets used. Common data that may be gathered covers topics such as:

  • adoption
  • engagement
  • time on task
  • activity levels
  • progress

It’s critical that your organization analyzes and interprets its data within the right context. On its own, an individual data point doesn’t mean much, and it’s easy for your stakeholders to misinterpret it. It’s when you layer on a narrative and bring in your business’s goals and objectives that data becomes valuable information, providing insights that can help transform knowledge into action and drive results.

4. Reinforcing the Need for Strong Data Security

More technology in the workplace often means that more data is, or can be, gathered. But as the amount of data collected increases, so too can learner concerns around how its being used and protected. There are a number of steps organizations can take to establish solid data governance and security protocols:

  • only collect data that’s useful and relevant to your strategic goals
  • give learners the ability to express their opinions about how their data is collected and used
  • store only relevant data for a limited amount of time
  • make sure you’re working with technology providers who take security as seriously as you do

Ultimately, organizations are responsible for protecting the privacy and security of the data they collect. Taking steps like these can help decrease your risk of data exposure and keep everyone—your users and your business alike—protected.

5. Enabling Personalized Learning Experiences

Now more than ever, talent retention is a constant challenge for companies. In research conducted by PwC, 65% of people surveyed said they’re actively looking for a new job. That’s an especially staggering and sobering number given that average turnover rates in the U.S. tend to hover around 20%, according to data from Mercer.

Organizations are paying closer attention to the work environments they make and company cultures they foster, using professional development pathways to meet the high expectations professionals have for inclusive workplaces that put a priority on career development and advancement. LinkedIn Learning’s 2019 Workplace Learning Report revealed that 94% of employees would stay with a company longer if it invests in staff learning and development.

In this competitive context, personalized learning can be incredibly beneficial for both organizations and their learners.

6. Optimizing Learning by Creating Feedback Loops

Another crucial piece of effective professional growth is feedback that gives learners context about how their skills are developing. Research from Gallup suggests that employees who receive daily feedback from their managers are three times more likely to be engaged than those who receive it once a year or less.

What does feedback look like? That depends. In some cases, it could be an in-person conversation, whether as part of a formal career discussion or an ad hoc check-in. In others, feedback could be provided as part of an online training program—in comments on a text-based assignment, a quick video reply to a recorded submission or another format. What matters is that feedback is:

  • clear
  • actionable
  • relevant

Feedback should also be a two-way street. Learners want to hear from you about how they’re doing, but you should also open the door for learners to provide input on the content and programs you’re delivering. Those insights can play valuable roles in helping iterate and improve professional learning programs.

Unlock the Power of Your Data to Become a World-Class Learning Organization

As organizations gear up to make decisions about the future of training programs, they need data on their side. It’s what enables us to answer fundamental questions about the effectiveness of professional learning and development programs and take initiatives further to drive long-term engagement, retention and success. It’s about equipping organizations to align data collection with training goals, develop plans that address unique strategic needs and build learning analytics solutions that maximize success.

Want to learn more? Get your copy of the Ultimate Guide to Learning Data and Analytics to discover how to create an effective analytics strategy that can elevate the usefulness of your data, improve your insights and enhance your outcomes.

Written by:

Emma Sandrock

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Table of Contents

  1. What is Learning Analytics?
  2. 1. Intentionally Disrupting the Corporate Learning Landscape
  3. 2. Prioritizing Learning and Organizational Outcomes
  4. 3. Enabling More Comprehensive Data Collection
  5. 4. Reinforcing the Need for Strong Data Security
  6. 5. Enabling Personalized Learning Experiences
  7. 6. Optimizing Learning by Creating Feedback Loops
  8. Unlock the Power of Your Data to Become a World-Class Learning Organization