Top eLearning reporting features for your LMS Caroline Lawless Published on May 3, 2016 Reporting is one of the most important parts of delivering eLearning. If you have formal compliance requirements to meet, reports are essential for recording that learners have passed mandatory training and assessment modules. Reports can also drive your team to take action, prompting learners to complete outstanding training before due dates elapse. Without decent reports, it’s hard to measure the success of training programs and make improvements. But delivering a report is only one simple step in the process. For eLearning reporting to work correctly, it can’t be left until the last moment. By the time a course is complete, it will be too late to collect essential information. Not all training software handles reports in the same way either. You may discover that your LMS isn’t configured to track what you need. Or it might prove difficult or impossible to extract and share data with all relevant members of your team. If administrators are reluctant to run reports, errors will quickly start to slip through. Here, I’ll outline the most crucial reporting features that are often overlooked. Thinking about these now will allow your system to collect, present and deliver reports in a way that best supports your users, whether they're course instructors, managers, supervisors or learners. Part 1: Configure your reports properly 1. Create the custom data fields you need Planning for eLearning reporting should begin before you use your LMS to deliver a single course. Training software can't report on information it hasn't been told to collect. Begin by evaluating the reports your learning platform is already configured to run. Most learning management systems will offer a set of basic reports with standard data fields and filters. If you use LearnUpon, you can run reports on everything from course status, to training history, individual or multiple modules, SCORM and Tin Can activity or course sales. Standard fields include details like username, course title, email address, and completion status. And you can filter data by things like date range, groups, and status. These features should cover most standard eLearning reporting needs. They'll allow you to run reports that show things like who has yet to start a mandatory course as a due date approaches. But you'll also need to decide if these reports, fields, and filters cover everything you need to measure. It's unlikely that any LMS will be equipped to track all of the specific data your organization needs out of the box. That's where you'll need to use custom fields. Some fields our customers use to customize their reports include things like a learner's department, role, or employee identification number. These extra pieces of information can help your team to assess if training is working effectively throughout your organization. Because some learning management systems don’t support custom fields, it’s essential to fully test eLearning reporting functionality and compare it to what you need to measure. 2. Decide which fields should be mandatory But simply adding custom fields isn't enough. To actually collect the data you need, you must make sure users are encouraged to submit it. It's risky to rely on users voluntarily filling in fields. Most will only offer as much information as they're forced to. If data is essential to your reports, make it mandatory, so that a user can't proceed without submitting it. Although it might seem minor, this is actually a crucial decision. If too many mandatory fields are used, you may overwhelm users and risk high levels of non-completion. So you'll need to make a call that balances essential data with that which is nice to have. 3. Use data visualizations Some users struggle to read long numeric reports. Visualizing data will make it easier for many members of your team to understand and interpret eLearning results. Research if your preferred LMS offers user-friendly visualization features as standard. These should be simple to use and automate, to avoid eLearning reporting becoming a time-consuming drain on resources. Part 2: Deliver reports to the right people 1. Export data in the right format Once you know you're equipped to collect essential data, you'll need to make sure it's easy to deliver to the right stakeholders. Information isn't of much use unless you can conveniently share it with team members whose work it impacts. The first step is to make sure that you can export data from your LMS in a format that suits your organization. At LearnUpon, customers export reports as excel files or as PDFs. If you're interested in exporting to Excel, ask your chosen vendor if their LMS can manage things like exporting multiple sheets. But your organization may have more advanced reporting requirements. In that case, you should research if your chosen LMS can integrate with a Learning Record Store (LRS) or data warehouse. An LRS may be useful if you'd like to run highly detailed reports on Tin Can statements. In large organizations, eLearning reports may need to integrate with data from separate applications, like a HR or finance platform, or a CRM. That may mean you need to centralize eLearning data in a warehouse for analysis with reporting tools like Business Objects, Cognos, and Tableau. If you require that advanced level of eLearning reporting, you should select an LMS vendor that offers extensive API options so information can be easily pulled into your data warehouse. 2. Schedule reports All of that could involve lots of time-intensive manual work unless your LMS is strong at automating reporting. Scheduling reports will save your admins time and make sure that reporting isn't forgotten. Your team is more likely to read and act on reports if they don't require manual intervention. LearnUpon customers schedule reports to automatically send daily, weekly and monthly to admins, instructors and managers. One example is a Daily Users Created Report which emails a summary of all users created in the past 24 hours.That makes it easy for admins to monitor how programs are progressing or if they need to take action. But you can also build ad hoc reports whenever you need them. Part 3: Act on report insights 1. Message affected learners But your LMS must do more than simply allow you to collect data and conveniently deliver it to the right team members. At LearnUpon, we developed neat features that help your report's recipients to take action. That will be especially important for mandatory programs, like health and safety training, or compliance. After you run our course status report, you'll immediately be given the option to email all or selected learners listed in the report. If the report shows that certain learners have yet to complete mandatory training, you can instantly send them a timely reminder. Or you can run the course status report to identify all learners who have yet to enroll and prompt them to do so. 2. Set an Expiry date We've also made it easy to take an extra step that can help boost completion rates. After running a report, you can choose to set a specific expiry date for all or selected learners returned in a course status report. That can be useful if you want to give learners who enroll late an extension for an outstanding assignment or assessment. These two features help admins to boost completion rates without even leaving the reporting feature itself. And that last step could be the one that defines the success of your programs.