8 Tips to Improve LMS Course Completion Rates

7th April 2021


Table of Contents

Training has become an integral part of why people choose a company and stay with them. This goes for internal staff and also external partnerships where a training programme helps to build a long-lasting relationship.

However, even with this clear demand for training, some organisations still have problems with course completion rates, even when it’s done on a convenient online platform like a learning management system (LMS).

In this article, we’ll diagnose the major reasons why this happens and what you can do to improve your LMS course completion rates:

Top 4 Reasons Why Course Completion Rates Are Low

Here are four major reasons why learners abandon their online learning courses:

Unmet expectations

The quality of the content itself might be fantastic, with valuable information and engaging design. However, that doesn’t matter if learners come into the course with a set of expectations that do not match the reality they are presented with.

It could be that the learners were expecting that the course would be topic-specific but in fact, it is more generalised.  It could also be a competency issue, where the content is too advanced for the learners.

No tangible benefits

Naturally, learners expect to be armed with new skills or useful information upon finishing a course. If they find that a course isn’t relevant halfway through, they could see it as a waste of time and stop completely.

Remember that your learners already have their day-to-day tasks to focus on, without trying to find time for training that has no defined, concrete benefit.

Poor user experience

According to Toptal, 90% of users stop using apps because of poor performance, with mobile users being five times more likely to abandon a task due to poor mobile optimisation. All the effort you put into making great eLearning content can be put to waste if learners find it frustrating to use your LMS, whether it’s on a desktop computer or their mobile devices.

Zero accountability

As much as you’d like to trust your learners to be responsible for completing their courses, it’s not a good idea to leave them to it without any follow-up.

It’s very easy for learners to leave a course unfinished when there is no reason to complete it and no consequences for their actions. The problem is often exacerbated in an online environment where learners can be isolated from one another and their administrators.

How to Improve Your Course Completion Rates

With an understanding of why learners are most likely to drop courses, you can work towards addressing these core issues in a meaningful manner with these 8 tips:

Emphasise interface accessibility

Learning is enough of a challenge as it is, so don’t make it any harder for your learners with a user interface that is slow, confusing, and unintuitive. Implement design best practices when setting up your courses and follow these principles for all of your courses as well as your LMS platform.

All elements of interacting with your online training course should be both intuitive, accessible and visually clear.  Your pages have to load fast, your videos have to work, links have to lead to the right destinations, and content has to be mobile-responsive.

Conduct training needs analysis

When creating training courses and focusing on production and project management, the key step of defining learning paths and objectives may be missed. By taking a step back and analysing your training you can identify any problems that may need to be solved.

To do this, you should:

  • Assess current skill level — What is the baseline level of competency and how does it compare to the level they need to reach?
  • Determine necessary skills — ensure there are learning paths and courses specifically aimed at honing specific skill sets your learners need to acquire.
  • Focus on skill and knowledge gaps — Develop your training courses to bridge any gaps.

Create detailed course descriptions

From the beginning, learners should know exactly what they will gain from taking any course.  Clear and comprehensive text descriptions should be mandatory for each course you develop. Useful information to include would be: :

  • Length — Include a completion time estimate so learners can fit the course into their schedule
  • Outline — A big-picture view of the course highlighting key points and takeaways
  • Qualifications — So learners know they will be rewarded when they have learnt the correct skills
  • Technical requirements — Any specific software or devices needed to access the course

To manage expectations properly, clearly lay out all the course details your learners need.

Vary course content

Your course may have all the right information and the appropriate exercises, but that doesn’t guarantee learners will see it through to the end. Content has to be engaging from start to finish, as monotonous content is the likely culprit for learners getting bored.

Integrate videos, animations and infographics into your courses to help learners absorb maximum information and remain focused.  You can also vary the format with some courses as bite-sized chunks, others as webinars, and even offer some courses that include fully immersive and interactive experiences.

Punctuate courses with assessments and milestones

It’s unrealistic to expect learners to finish courses in one go. Their interest can wane or they can simply become fatigued from absorbing a lot of information. Instead of pushing them to complete training as soon as possible, give them checkpoints where they can review what they have learned and then pick up where they left off.

This is also a good time to recognise what they’ve already accomplished. Reward them with digital badges or points when they reach certain milestones. It’s worthwhile implementing gamification into your training courses to help increase engagement and encourage progression.

Provide incentives for completion

The intrinsic motivation to learn more won’t be present for all of your learners. In such cases, a little encouragement in the form of incentives can go a long way towards improving your course completion rate.

You can keep it simple by granting certificates to learners who finish courses. This can be easily integrated into your LMS. If you have the resources, you can go the extra mile with perks and bonuses to reward learners who successfully complete training.

Follow up with learners regularly

Course abandonment doesn’t always happen for complex reasons. Learners can simply forget to continue where they left off because of their busy schedules. This is more likely to happen if you don’t have systems in place to remind learners, especially if you follow a self-paced learning model.

Send automated reminders to learners who signed up for courses. Depending on your platform, you can do this via email, company messaging apps, or through your LMS.

Get feedback from your learners

You don’t have to make any guesses as to what you can do to improve the learning experience. Go straight to the source and talk to your learners directly about it. Ask them what is stopping them from completing courses, and be open to suggestions.

Conduct surveys, but make sure they are brief and straightforward. The last thing you need is for learners to not fill these out.

You can take this feedback through your LMS and cross-reference it with the data you have collected from your LMS about which courses get finished and where learners drop off. This way, you can make adjustments that are data-driven while taking into account general sentiments.

Maximise Your LMS to Improve Completion Rates

Modern learning management systems come with so many features that help facilitate online learning. From writing comprehensive course descriptions and including various media formats to customising interfaces and integrating gamification, you can do so much to engage your learners. Take full advantage of your software that can account for variables in human behaviour.

If you need to create compelling content that is delivered on a pain-free platform, Wahoo Learning has the experience and expertise to help. Our managed LMS solution can be modified to fit your organisation’s requirements, whether you like to be hands-on or less involved with the process. Schedule a demo with us today.


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