The New Outcomes of Learning: Why Completion Rates Won't Cut It Anymore

Digital training transformed the world of learning and development. Gone were the days of paper sign-in sheets your team had to file and store. Gone were long classroom lectures that training staff delivered repeatedly. Gone were make-up sessions for those who weren’t able to attend at their scheduled time.

Suddenly, training materials were available on-demand. Better still, advanced learning and development platforms automated tasks like sending outstanding course reminders, collecting acknowledgments, and tracking course completion. With so many pain points resolved, it’s easy to see why many learning and development professionals like yourself have turned from completion rate issues toward other value-added activities.

As many learning and development professionals are coming to realize, the problem is that measuring course completion rates doesn’t get to the heart of learning and development’s true goal: changing behavior.

In other words, learning outcomes must be more than just the number of people who completed a course. They must measure whether and how course completion affects behavior.

Beyond Completion Rates: What Drives Behavior Changes

The research is in, and it is clear: completing a course doesn’t guarantee changed behavior. Instead, when and how you deliver that training will determine behavior-related outcomes. Specifically:

  • Training must be customized to the learner’s individual knowledge gaps. Targeted modules are more effective than generalized courses.
  • Today’s learners don’t have time for nice-to-know details. They want need-to-know information. That means microlearning is today’s method of choice.
  • Timing is everything. Just-in-time learning plans are more likely to prompt behavior change than generalized courses scheduled according to an arbitrary timeline.
  • Reinforcing and building upon previous training drives long-term behavior change. Learners simply don’t remember much of the course content unless the information is repeated and applied almost immediately.
  • Advanced technology has made the world’s knowledge available to anyone with an internet connection. The downside is that there are a lot more distractions, which makes learning and development more challenging. Delivering training in bite-sized chunks over time solves the issue with today’s short attention spans. It can increase retention by as much as 17 percent.

With those factors in mind, the question on your mind may be: What delivery method can successfully break down information into personalized, bite-sized chunks, offered just in time, and repeated often enough to drive genuine changes in behavior?

Text-Message Training: Driving Changes in Behavior One Micro-Course at a Time

Once industry professionals realized that completion rates were no longer the gold standard for measuring learning outcomes, they rethought course design strategy. What method would meet all these criteria for maximum impact?

Researchers explored a variety of options and determined that one delivery method stands out: text messaging. They discovered that text-message-based micro-courses generated the new learning outcomes — specifically, that participants could do something differently because of the module.

The data show that text-message learning appeals to 21st-century learners, which increases participation rates. A full 95 percent of employees open a text within three minutes. That results in response and engagement rates as much as ten times higher than those of other learning mediums.

In short, bite-sized content offered via text messaging meets employees where they are. It fits into their mobile-device-centric world and can target delivery when learners need to use the information.

Arist Text-Message Learning

Arist is leading change in the learning and development field by exploring fresh ways to integrate training into day-to-day living. Programs are data-driven and designed to meet the needs of today’s learners. Right now, that means text messaging.  

Arist has attracted the attention of clients like GE and the State of California because its methods generate measurable results. Through text-message courses, Arist helps clients teach and train employees quickly.

The beauty of Arist text-based courses is that they can reach a global audience with minimal effort. Limited internet or issues with laptop access don’t disrupt text-based training. That means higher levels of engagement and completion, not to mention improved participant satisfaction rates.

Development of Arist text-based courses does not require the same labor-intensive process necessary for a full-length e-learning module. Text message courses take hours instead of weeks to design, and Arist clients see an average seven-times-faster launch rate compared to previous methods.

Finally, the format of text-message courses is entirely flexible. Use emojis, interactive questions, and gifs to keep material fresh, which increases user engagement.

Learn more about launching your first text-based course here.