Collecting data for insight and action on learning and development does not have to be difficult or complex. There are best practices for measuring impact and technology for analyzing performance. While these methods are undeniably valuable, real-time data collection in the classroom is an effective method of evaluating and predicting results for learning and development.

Real-time data collection in a live or virtual classroom is an easy way to capture facts, figures and statistics in the moment. The data view is immediate, and there’s opportunity for instant data cleansing and clarification. The value of real-time data collection is in the quality of questions asked for gaining insight and taking action.

The answers to vanity-based questions like “I enjoyed this training,” “The facilities and food added to my learning experience” and “The instructor made the learning fun” are nice to know but provide little opportunity for action. The answers to insight or action-based questions like “What I learned today will impact the number of patient fatalities,” “The discussion model for employee engagement will help me discover employees’ ideas for innovation” and “What skill or behavior did you learn that will have the greatest impact on gaining customer trust?” provide predictive insight and potential action.

Why not use traditional surveys?

Paper-based and online surveys are a great way to collect L&D data. There are, however, challenges with both. Paper-based surveys require manual entry for results and are at risk for human error during input, and some participants may not comply with requests for survey completion. Online surveys are at risk for low response rates, extended time for results, and loss of opportunity for expansion on responses that require clarification or explanation. An additional challenge to both is restriction against altering or adding questions to standardized surveys.

The benefits of collecting real-time classroom data include:

  • Greater flexibility and opportunity for collecting data you might not otherwise capture
  • Immediate results
  • Immediate explanation of responses when needed
  • Interactive, collaborative exercise as part of the learning experience
  • Higher response rates

Real-Time Data Collection In the Classroom

You can use real-time data collection in the classroom at the end of a program or intermittently at the end of a topic, unit or section. You will need to build time for data collection into the schedule. It can stand on its own or as a supplement to paper-based and online surveys.

Create a mix of rating and open-ended insight and action-based questions (not vanity questions). Include no more than four to five if you’re using them at the end of the program or two to three at the end of a topic, unit or section. Write one question on each page of a flipchart, attach the pages to the walls and use a PowerPoint to show the rating scale (from one – strongly degree to five – strongly agree). Place post-it pads on tables or desks, and distribute pens or pencils as needed.


Ask participants to rate their response for each question (excluding open-ended questions) on a separate post-it for each question and place it on the appropriate flipchart poster. Then, ask participants to write their comments for each open-ended question on a post-it and place it on the appropriate flipchart poster.

Ask volunteers to calculate the average rating for each question and record it on the poster. As a group, review the results, and ask clarifying questions where needed. Save the questions, ratings, comments and discussion as part of your data collection and analysis.

Real-Time Data Collection in the Virtual Classroom

Create polling questions with rating and open-ended questions. Show the questions to participants, collect responses and share results. Review results with participants, and ask clarifying questions where needed. Ask participants to use chat or a voice line, if it’s open. Save the polling question results, chat comments and notes you’ve taken as part of your data collection and analysis.

Work Smarter, not Harder

There’s no silver bullet for collecting data on performance and action for learning results. There are, however, multiple ways to capture facts, figures and statistics for data-driven decisions about learning solutions design and deployment, predictability of impact, and insight on performance. Real-time classroom data collection is an easy, achievable solution. Give it a try.