deep dive

LMS Data Deep Dive

Learning management systems have tremendous capacity for obtaining and storing data about your learners and your organization. But how easy is it for you to access that information, and how adept are you at using it?

If your organization uses a learning management system (LMS), the ability to organize, roll out, and track your program offerings is only half of what it has to offer. If you’re not also using it to watch for trends in effective and ineffective programs, and learner performance, then you’re missing a key advantage of having one of these systems. Organizations that are intent on continuing to improve employee development understand that an LMS is a tool with important information to guide your future learning investments.

Know What Works and What Doesn’t

At Training Top 125er Ferguson Enterprises, the LMS serves multiple purposes, one of which is as a planning tool. The company, which uses a slightly altered off-the-shelf LMS to enroll, launch, and deliver coursework, extracts valuable analytics directly from the tool, says Learning Technologies Specialist Leigh Olvera. “We track the actual number and the specific type of training programs accessed, as well as the overall percentage of the learning catalog accessed; course enrollments and course completions; distinct associate completions; training hours completed; duration of Web-based training programs; and the split between managers and non-managers engaged in training,” Olvera explains.

The information is used to assess learning consumption month-to-month and year-over-year. “The data helps us better understand how our training programs are supporting the needs of the business, as well as the areas of interest across our associate population,” says Olvera. “The company shares this information with business stakeholders to gauge employee completion of training tied to business initiatives.”

Ferguson recently used analytics from its LMS to support a major customer service initiative being pushed to its branches via a blended learning strategy. “Since the majority of our associates work in one of our 1,400 branch locations, we were able to use data from our LMS to determine which days and time slots were most attended by our learners,” says Director of Training Mark McNitt. “As we rolled out this program to our locations, we went from a baseline of offering nine virtual instructor- led trainings (VILTs) over the course of a five-day workweek to a model that supported three VILT courses each week offered on the optimal day and time that best supported our branch operations.”

At Ferguson’s corporate campus in Newport News, VA, the company offers a summer camp session and a winter break training week. Information culled from its LMS helps Ferguson Corporate Training plan programming for these events.

“We use LMS data to help design the course offerings based on enrollment/completion and learner feedback. We also look at the data. Based on the enrollment/demand versus classroom capacity, we then offer additional sessions of the highest-demand courses at times outside of the week-long program, both virtual and instructor-led training,” says McNitt, “so all associates have an opportunity to participate in the classes that are of most interest to them.”

In the end, McNitt says, his team aims to achieve the best possible business outcome: engaged, informed, and effective associates. “The data helps us determine the frequency of the courses we offer, as well as identify where we have an opportunity to expand our blended model, so the training we offer is relevant, and we are able to reach more people with training.”

Optimize Reporting Functionality

An LMS’ ability to be programmed to automatically send reports of learning and course usage metrics has been helpful to Training Top 125er Guckenheimer, says Senior Director of Training and Development Mark Lenahan.

“They have ‘canned’ reports that create a report with just one click (and then can be edited in Excel), and they have custom reports that allow us to include or exclude specific information,” Lenahan says. “Custom reports also can be set up to run automatically based on a specific time period (daily, weekly, monthly) and then e-mailed out to specific user(s), so once the report is created, there is no more administration needed from the Training team.”

The company uses its LMS to track three key pieces of information: assignments, completions, and compliance. “We have identified required training by position and have set up automatic assignments in the LMS to ensure that training is assigned the day an employee is hired or promoted to one of these positions,” says Eastern Regional Trainer Mary Gregg. “Based on these automatic assignments, we now can run reports to see who has, and more importantly, who hasn’t completed their initial training.”

In addition, the Training team runs a quarterly training completion report for the company’s senior leadership team, and worked with its LMS provider to set up recurring assignments in the LMS, so employees and their managers can track industry-specific certifications, and be notified in advance when a certification is up for renewal.

Gain Learner Feedback

The LMS at Training Top 125er Keller Williams Realty helps provide real-time feedback from learners by tracking user searches and consumed and generated content. KW Connect, the company’s primary source for learning management, primarily facilitates organizational- and user-generated content, while providing benefits and features that support collaborative online communities, says Digital Design Director Michael Balistreri.

Learner feedback enables Balistreri and his team to make important improvements. “We found that IGNITE—one of our most attended courses—was in need of a more effective resource page,” he says. “We received direct feedback from our associates, and it became a priority for our team; it also allowed the next conversation around the vision for KW Connect’s educational portal to happen.”

Another key strength of the system is to combine learner feedback with each learner’s individual developmental needs to drive customized programming. Says Balistreri: “Because our franchises and agent teams have clear organizational structures and models built into our LMS, they have access to appropriate courses based on our productivity solution funnel, all supported by our clear vision and focus as an organization.”


  • Track the number and the specific type of training programs accessed, the overall percentage of the learning catalog accessed, course enrollments and completions, distinct associate completions, training hours completed, duration of Web-based training programs, and the split between managers and non-managers engaged in training.
  • Learn the days and time slots most attended by your learners to discover the optimal days/times to schedule classes or other programming.
  • Use LMS data to look at enrollment/demand vs. classroom capacity. That way, you’ll know if you need to ramp up or scale back your offerings.
  • Create custom reports that can be set up to run automatically based on a specific time period (daily, weekly, monthly), and then e-mailed to specific Learning professionals, so your team always knows what your learners most need.
  • Set up recurring assignments in the LMS, so employees, and their managers, can track industry-specific certifications, and be notified in advance when a certification is up for renewal.

CASE STUDY: Samsung Boosts Course Completions by 181%

Samsung wanted to create a best-in-class extended enterprise online training platform targeted at retailer and operator staff selling Samsung products. To achieve this, it set out to revamp its Samsung Backstage online training platform, originally created in 2011. The aim was to create a unified, multi-device learner experience, build ongoing relationships with retail and operator staff, and reward users for engaging with product training. In addition, Samsung wanted to obtain improved data and analytics as evidence of ROI, and deliver a great brand experience for all users of the platform.


City & Guilds Kineo provided the LMS expertise, with iris Worldwide leading on the visual design. For the learning management system, Samsung chose Totara Learn, allowing for considerable design flexibility. The platform is a fully responsive Totara-based solution, using adaptive layouts to provide an optimized user experience across desktop, tablet, and smartphone.

In addition to delivering a multi-device learning platform, the Samsung Backstage site focuses on trade engagement, with a range of content including product knowledge training, competitions, and community engagement. The engagement strategy extends beyond the LMS with a fully integrated approach across e-mail, Facebook, Twitter, and Samsung Backstage. Regular e-mail contact ensures users are always up to date with new content and are encouraged to regularly visit Samsung Backstage.

Users are rewarded for taking the product training with access to competitions, which “unlock” for them. These competitions are styled-up course pages, accessed using Totara’s audience-based enrollment method. Users only become a member of the relevant audience after completing the specified courses and/or getting a specified grade in the assessment.

Samsung Backstage also makes extensive use of Open Badges to reward users for completing learning, passing quizzes, and other incentivized actions such as completing their user profile. The user’s most recent badge is displayed on his or her homepage with the full collection available on his or her “My Backstage” (personalized learning space). Badges are designed to be portable via the user’s Mozilla Backpack.


Monthly management reports, using a combination of Totara site reports and Google Analytics, reveal that the new site has seen a 35 percent increase in page views and an 85 percent increase in pages viewed per visit (for the same period, year-on-year).

The data also revealed that the number of active users on Samsung Backstage increased 42 percent, and the number of courses completed increased by 181 percent for the first month of use.


  • Implement Open Badges to provide users with evidence of learning.
  • Create an integrated learning strategy across multiple platforms (including social media) for better promotion of the LMS.
  • Design for multiple devices to maximize your user base.
  • Use the platform’s reporting functionality and tools such as Google Analytics to prove ROI.

To read the full case study, visit:



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