As learning and development (L&D) teams look for strategies to engage remote learners, there is one approach that is not used enough: assessment.

Let’s take a look at how you can leverage an assessment strategy for online training beyond its traditional use and align it to a learning and performance ecosystem.


The COVID-19 pandemic has redefined workplace dynamics, and remote operations are likely to be the norm for the near future. With a large percentage of employees working from home, there has been a multifold increase in the adoption of virtual training.

As a result, organizations and L&D teams are working to identify approaches that can engage remote learners through virtual training, which can demonstrate value for the business by impacting specific key performance indicators (KPIs). Thus far, their focus has been largely on evaluating the various training delivery modalities — including virtual instructor-led training (VILT), blended learning, mobile learning and mobile learning apps, and microlearning — as well as immersive learning strategies, such as gamification, game-based learning, scenario or story-based learning, and so on.

However, there is another approach that organizations are not leveraging enough: taking assessment beyond mere validation of learning and creating an assessment-based learning journey.

How to Leverage an Assessment Strategy for Online Training

As you adopt virtual training transformation on a large scale, take a look at how an effective assessment strategy can help you at many levels, including improving engagement; creating “sticky” learning experiences; keeping the forgetting curve at bay; and challenging employees to learn, practice what they learn, and eventually trigger a change in thinking or behavior.

At this level, an assessment strategy can help you move the needle on training effectiveness and impact. This enhanced approach applies the assessment strategy through the learning and performance ecosystem.

Learning and performance ecosystem

A learning and performance ecosystem is designed to support a continuous learning journey and is particularly useful for remote learners. A typical learning journey includes:

    1. Capturing attention about training opportunities through, for example, newsletters and teaser videos.
    2. Building awareness around “what’s in it for me (WIIFM)” by highlight the value the training will provide to learners.
    3. For formal training, using immersive learning strategies like gamification, virtual and augmented reality, scenario-based learning, interactive story-based learning, and branching scenarios.
    4. Augmenting formal training with performance support tools (PSTs) or job aids to help learners apply their new knowledge and give them support at their moment of need.
    5. Reinforcing learning to minimize knowledge erosion, challenge workers with complex and advanced learning content, provide practice opportunities for learners to hone their skills, and give them curated assets to continue their learning journey.
    6. Offering collaborative and social learning opportunities, so learners can learn through peer networking and other group forums both within and outside of the work environment.

How to Create an Assessment Strategy That Is Aligned to the Learning and Performance Ecosystem

Instead of limiting the use of an assessment strategy to a mere validation of acquired learning, tap into its greater value by designing a series of assessments into a journey. Aligning the assessments with the learning can help learners apply what they learn with a higher degree of satisfaction and a feeling of achievement.

Approaches to Consider

For instance, for VILT, the classic assessment options are polls, surveys, interim knowledge checks or formative assessments, and summative assessments. For blended or self-paced online training, the classic assessment options are pre-training assessments, interim knowledge checks or formative assessments, and summative assessments. In the enhanced approach, you can overlay an assessment track on the learning journey by delivering a series of short assessments and activities, each mapped directly to a learning goal.

7 Assessments That You Can Use Across the Learning Journey

    1. Pre-assessments: to help learners personalize their primary learning journey.
    2. Pause and reflect: to trigger a change in thinking.
    3. Reconnect: to keep the forgetting curve at bay.
    4. Reinforce: to facilitate long-term retention.
    5. Practice: to help learners hone their skills in real-life situations.
    6. Challenge: to push learners toward further proficiency gain.
    7. Spaced repetition: to increase retention, application and behavior change.

Which Non-traditional Approaches Can Enhance the Impact of Assessments?

When you offer assessments, design them with varied formats:

    • Use approaches like gamification, scenarios and interactive stories in interactive videos that support branching.
    • Combine delivery options like mobile apps for learning with microlearning, and deliver assessments over a period of time.
    • Leverage personalization and gamification techniques, adding badges and accreditation that will support learner engagement.
    • Look at collaborative and social interaction through assessments (offline assessments that are then evaluated in a flipped classroom mode).

An assessment journey can help you engage remote learners and accomplish learning goals. Use this approach to see gains at various levels, from supporting sticky learning and ensuring better application of learning to triggering a change in thinking and behavior.