By Andrea Bonner, Staff Writer

“What gets measured” seems to do several things: It “gets improved,” it gets “managed,” and of course, it “gets done.”

The origin of this catchphrase is contested—but it’s unsurprising that no one has claimed this bit of wisdom as their own. Why? It glosses over what’s between the measuring and the doing, and that missing piece is mission-critical.

Over the past year, many schools and organizations began implementing eLearning at scale, and for diverse audiences, for the first time. And students aren’t impressed. Nearly one-third (32%) of high schoolers said they would rather not attend school at all if it continued to be online, according to a recent survey from the National Society of High School Scholars. Over half (53%) of students said they prefer in-person classes but could “deal with” eLearning, according to that same survey.

Statistics like these make it more important than ever that teachers, administrators, and students can not only access and measure the right data, but actually be able to use it to improve the learning environment, course content, and ultimately, student performance and satisfaction.

Lack of data isn’t usually a problem—accessing the most helpful data is.

Today’s learning management systems make it easier than ever to capture data. LMS platforms market this data as a feature—it enables you to gain insights that help you make data-driven decisions regarding your learning strategy.

But for most teachers, students, and administrators, data in its raw form is mind-numbing at best, and unusable at worst. Think about number-saturated spreadsheets, data with no useful context, vanity metrics, and lag measures that you can’t do anything about.

In contrast, imagine your LMS data presented in a user-friendly, visually appealing way tailored to the viewer—including predictive analytics that allow you to tailor your learning strategies to improve those all-important progress metrics.

Pare Your Data Down to What Matters Most

The amount of data you can collect and measure is overwhelming. Yes, data mining is a thing, but you shouldn’t have to dig that deep to get to the data you need. You must narrow down the metrics you measure to those that will allow you to not only track progress, but influence the future. Metrics like learner focus, instructor engagement, activity, and much more. Only then will you be able to catch patterns—both positive and negative—before they become final results.

So yes, “what gets measured gets done,” is a pithy statement about the importance of analytics, but—just like translating raw data from your LMS into actionable analytics—it requires a lot more thought.