Behavioral Analytics In eLearning: Measuring Engagement

Behavioral Analytics In SMB eLearning

Effective, engaging employee training programs are essential for giving workers the tools and knowledge needed to deliver consistently excellent service. If you run a small to medium-sized business (SMB), worker education could be an aspect that sets you apart from larger enterprises and makes customers increasingly loyal. The accessibility of eLearning platforms has made training easier than ever by giving participants more flexibility than traditional education allows. Many SMB owners use behavioral analytics to determine how well workers engage with eLearning content. Here’s how you can follow their lead.

What Are Behavioral Analytics?

Behavioral analytics is a newer branch of data science that helps practitioners understand why people take specific actions. You may have previously applied it when studying which factors made people more or less likely to take desirable actions while using an online store or engaging with a company blog.

Behavioral analytics also apply to eLearning and could tell you things such as:

  • Which topics learners need to study more.
  • Their above-average knowledge areas or skills.
  • The average time spent per page or chapter.
  • Which exercises students find exciting or less stimulating.
  • Whether engaging with supplementary material raises test scores.
  • The parts of the page that capture people’s attention most.
  • What people’s top job-related concerns are.

Applying Behavioral Analytics In Action

Let’s explore how you can apply behavioral analytics when training your company’s workforce.

1. Explore Whether Training Changes Feelings Of Preparedness

Highly adaptable workers are excellent assets but typically need specialized training to prepare for future changes. Behavioral analytics may reveal people’s uncertainties about what’s ahead. You can also apply them to see if training makes learners feel more equipped.

One 2023 study about the impact of Artificial Intelligence on the workplace found most people felt they needed more training to prepare for using the technology. More specifically, 86% of respondents thought it was necessary [1]. However, only 14% of front-line workers had received it, and that figure rose to 44% among leaders.

If you use eLearning modules to prepare participants for AI or other technologies that will likely change their workflows, consider applying behavioral analytics by asking people to describe their feelings and future readiness. Do so before and after the learners complete the training. Then, conduct sentiment analysis to uncover trends. Which parts of the training were most effective in helping people feel optimistic? Which new skills will people apply to their work moving forward?

You can then study the data to determine whether the eLearning modules made people feel more prepared. Be sure to get feedback on content they found confusing or unhelpful and use it to improve. People engage more with material they can easily understand.

2. Screen For Actions Indicating Negative Emotions Or Disengagement

Many companies use predictive analytics to find workers showing signs of boredom, anger or dissatisfaction with their jobs. The goal is to intervene to find mutually beneficial solutions before they quit. You should take the same approach to analyze how people feel when going through eLearning modules.

One study found good employees look for better opportunities in 77% of cases where they lack the knowledge, tools or tech to perform well in their roles [2]. Suppose the online courses are unclear or unintuitive and cause people to feel upset when navigating through them. That frustration may indicate other sources of discontent at work, causing them to consider leaving their companies.

Factors that may indicate negative online learning experiences include:

  • Taking an excessively long or short time to get through content.
  • Not engaging with optional learning activities.
  • Scoring poorly on assessments despite engaging with all material.
  • Being upset about receiving new course assignments.
  • Frequent reports of technical difficulties.

However, even when behavioral analytics indicate these issues, you can take several actions to increase engagement and satisfaction. One option is to try and change learners’ attitudes by reminding them of an eLearning course’s relevance. Perhaps the content teaches company representatives to engage with customers on social media. Research shows that 41% of marketers deem such activities necessary for brands’ social relevance [3].

Another tactic is determining whether perceived frustration with the course content might have other causes. If a person takes longer than average to finish modules, it may be hard for them to find quiet times or places for the training. The same applies if people get low assessment scores despite going through all the content and appearing to engage well with it. Schedule one-on-one meetings to get to the bottom of what’s happening and explore feasible solutions.

3. Use Simulations To Detect Weaknesses

It’s not always easy to know what to focus on in employee training, especially when the material covers a broad subject. However, when developing their training programs, some cybersecurity leaders have had workers go through simulations to determine which mistakes they’re most likely to make without education to help them establish better habits.

Phishing simulations are among the most common workplace simulations. The associated results identify workforce-wide trends and individuals needing additional training to prevent costly, real-life mistakes.

One study of more than 6,000 employees who did 20 mock phishing simulations found that 6% of subjects who failed at least three phishing simulations were part of the 29% who did not recognize that cyberattack strategy [4]. That takeaway suggests the importance of additional training for those who repeatedly fall for these simulations.

You can also apply behavioral analytics to learn details such as:

  • Which phishing strategies people find most believable.
  • How long recipients read phishing emails before clicking on links.
  • The percentage of workers who engage with the messages instead of reporting them.
  • Whether content appearing to come from certain brands attracts more attention.
  • If people are more or less likely to fall for phishing efforts at certain times.
  • Differences among departments, roles, or seniority levels.

Use your findings to develop or find an eLearning-based phishing program to help people more effectively spot this tactic. Consider running another simulation several months after workers finish the training to see if they show different behaviors due to the targeted education.

4. Ensure Workers Recognize The Educational Value

Are workers primarily completing courses because of workplace mandates, or do they also see how the educational content aligns with their career goals? Behavioral analytics tools help answer that question. A 2023 study revealed that 43% of respondents mentioned time as a learning program completion barrier [5]. However, the figure fell to 19% among people who believed the content matched their career goals and used educational platforms that supported multiple learning modes. Another notable takeaway was that increased relevance was the top improvement learners would make to their training programs, cited by 68% of those polled.

When reviewing the factors mentioned above that suggest education-related discontent and discussing individual characteristics that make learning more challenging or less enjoyable, talk to workers about how closely they feel the content matches their current roles and future aspirations.

If workers recognize that the education is worthwhile, learn about other aspects that could contribute to decreased engagement. Sometimes, what appears as disengagement with the content occurs because of personal life stress, a lack of sleep, or other influences unrelated to the course.

Enhance Online Learning, Keep Employees Engaged

Apply these tips and examples to discover new ways to monitor and improve your workers’ engagement levels as they go through eLearning materials. Succeeding in these areas increases the likelihood of employees having well-developed skills they can use in current and future roles.


[1] Just 14% of Frontline Employees Have Received Training to Address How AI Will Change Their Jobs

[2] What You Need to Know About Business-to-Employee User Experience

[3] Master Digital Communications With Social Media Courses

[4] Phishing for Long Tails: Examining Organizational Repeat Clickers and Protective Stewards

[5] Employees more likely to find time for workplace learning when it matches career goals

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