Canada Association of Tourism Employees

7 Methods To Enhance On-line Course Completion Charges

Create a plan to increase your graduation rates

Online learning is growing in popularity as technology improves and companies look for easy ways to scale training around the world. One of the biggest challenges in online learning is increasing graduation rates. Because the training can be accessed at any time and completed at any pace, many learners are unable to complete their online training. Industry studies suggest that online course completion rates are only 5 to 15%.

How do you get over it? We have worked with clients who have a 100% completion rate (even with 40-hour online certification) in smaller teams and 80% completion rate in global teams. At the same time, some teams achieve less than 50% completion.

What causes such big differences in graduation rates? While the training design is part of it, in our case the training is exactly the same, but the completion rates vary up to 60%.

There are few factors that the teams with the highest graduation rates have in common. Here are 7 of the most common factors that caused graduation rates to increase.

1. Set a clear deadline for completion

Having a clear deadline is critical to completing the online training. It can be too easy to de-prioritize without a deadline. Set a deadline for completing the training and communicate it clearly. Send reminders of the deadline so learners can focus on the graduation date and motivate them.

In our experience, increased and reminded deadlines can increase completion rates by over 30%.

2. Break the course into smaller steps

Taking a longer course can feel intimidating. The best way to handle this is to break it down into smaller steps with regular schedules. For example, we have a 24 hour certification course. We break it down into a weekly schedule of 3 hours a week. Three hours a week is much more achievable than 24 hours.

This gives participants a clear plan and path to completion. This is especially important in courses that last longer than a few hours.

3. Block time in calendars

Prioritizing online learning can be a challenge. It is easy to completely forget about this among the competing priorities. Having learners blocking time on their calendars is a great way to make sure it gets done.

In our email campaigns, we encourage learners to add a calendar appointment to complete their training. 100% of those who do say it helped them finish the course on time.

4. Have a clear “why”

Having a basic motivation for completing a training program is key. Why is this training important for the learner?

This can be an internal “why”. If participants start the program by sharing (in writing) why the training is important to them and committing to a graduation date, graduation rates will increase.

For corporate or team training, the why can come from the leadership in the organization. For example, a senior executive can share importance to the organization and set expectations for the team.

Keeping the why in the spotlight will keep learners motivated.

5. Communicate, communicate, communicate

Communication plays a big role in getting learners to complete their courses. Emails about schedules, deadlines, plans for the week, and the value of the training to the company play a role in increasing graduation rates.

In one of our tests, we found that learners who took part in a program that sent weekly reminders had a 40% higher completion rate than those who took the next step after completing a section.

Formal communication such as emails, newsletters, and internal communication is powerful, but informal communication is also. Mention the priority of training in team meetings. Ask about the status in 1: 1s. Build communication and encouragement into as many touchpoints as possible.

Set a deadline and path to complete the training. Then send reminders to stay tuned and keep the team focused.

6. Reward and Recognize

Reward and recognize those who complete the program. Some of our clients offer a price for the first 10, others email them with those who graduate recognizing them (and inspiring others).

Regardless of whether the reward and recognition are formal or informal, it plays a huge role in motivating teams to complete them.

7. Follow With Uncompletes

Following up with those who didn’t complete the training is just as important as recognizing those who did. Find out what is causing those not to complete the training and ask them to commit to an alternate deadline. Some learners may not realize the importance of completing the training. Knowing that their incompleteness is being tracked is a powerful motivator.

As you can see, there are many steps companies can take to improve online training completion rates. Completing a driving course has more to do with introducing and communicating the training than anything else. When introducing online training, create a clear plan ahead of time to use these best practices and maximize your likelihood of success.

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