Summary: You’ve built the University, opened it, and now it’s up and running. It’s never too early to look at the maintenance of the University and its programs, so let’s decide which areas should have your focus.
The first area you should look at is the evaluation of the learning programs themselves. Your evaluation of the programs should start at the basic level, with immediate reaction surveys. These surveys, sometimes referred to as Level One on Fitzpatrick’s scale of evaluation, measure the participants’ responses immediately following training. Did they feel they learned new skills? Did the instructor have the appropriate professional outlook and enthusiastic presentation skills? Were the materials useful? All of these questions will give you an idea of how courses are immediately perceived.
But don’t stop there. In order to get a true idea of how the learning programs are adapted on the job, you’ll need to evaluate further down the line. Start with behavioral evaluations at 30 to 45 days after the training. In these evaluations, you’ll need to ask participants if they were able to apply what they learned in the course. Use the course objectives as a roadmap for the survey questions, using the same action verbs as the objectives. To get a further view, survey the participants’ managers or supervisors to see if they have an idea about the application of skills on the job. Remember that many times how things are trained and how they are accomplished in the field may be different – if you encounter these differences, be sure to investigate them thoroughly. The whole idea behind this type of evaluation is to find out what is useful and what is not – in other words, what parts of the training programs are helping participants achieve the organization’s strategy?
Customer satisfaction is another area of focus, but don’t confuse this with program evaluation. You’ll want to find out what the University’s service is like to the participants. Have they made phone calls to the University and what type of experience was that? When they visit locations in person, were they greeted promptly and shown into clean facilities? If the organization has customer service surveys, consider modeling the University’s surveys after those. In fact, if the organization utilizes a mystery shop approach, consider implementing one for University participants. Your goal is to have a picture of the customer service abilities of all the staff at all times. This is another way to show that the University is not isolated and out of touch, but is completely aligned with the organization’s service mission.
Customer satisfaction can also sample the technical aspects of the University. You should certainly evaluate online courses from the content perspective, but add to that a quick survey about the online experience. Did the user have trouble signing in? Was he or she able to locate the course or information needed easily and quickly? Was the navigation user friendly or not? Was the speed of the online course progression too fast, too slow, or just right? When you survey for technical satisfaction as well as customer satisfaction, you’re getting a good picture of all users – not just classroom attendees.
What about the University staff? Part of maintenance is the coaching and development of the existing staff. Are certain staff members in need of certifications, such as instructional certifications or design certifications? Do the online designers need to be trained on a new version of Flash? Do the content designers or instructors need to go to educational conferences or continuing education? Determine if staff members are receiving regular coaching and feedback on their performance from managers or supervisors. If not, be sure to circle back with those managers to find out why. In the midst of all of the maintenance, don’t forget to start your succession planning process, as well. Are any senior staff members in need of leadership or management training to make them ready to take over if necessary?
Finally, your maintenance inspection should include resources and costs. Are the locations fully used or are the classrooms sitting empty? Use your Learning Management System (LMS) to determine if instructors are being used efficiently to teach classes, learn new classes, and enter class data into the LMS. If not, go back to the managers to find out how to make the usage more efficient. From a budget perspective, conduct a good audit on how the money is being used – and don’t be afraid to spend earmarked money if it’s necessary. You don’t want a budget cut in the next fiscal year because you didn’t spend necessary funds.
After considering these aspects, you’ll have a consistent picture of how the University is functioning.