Unless you establish a baseline, all the data in the world will be useless to you. A baseline will help you organize your information and establish results. was your course a success? Is there room for improvement? Without a baseline, you won’t be able to tell your course was successful or not.

But how do you create a baseline? Furthermore, how do you determine what is important for your course? What areas should you focus on when making improvements?

In this installment, we share five steps towards establishing a baseline.

1. Establish goals.
Before you start measuring your data, gather your team of educators, facilitators, and administrators. As a group, determine the goals that need to be met. Is the goal to have more students pass above a certain letter grade? Is it to simply attract more enrollments than the previous year? If you want to move forward, you must establish goals. Furthermore, it is crucial for your entire team to fully understand all your goals.

2. Pull old data for comparison.
Now that you have your goals, go into your software system, and pull data from the past few classes. You may want to analyze at least three semesters’ worth of data to get a decent pool from which you can pull averages and study trends. Has enrollment continuously risen or fallen? Has it been sporadic? Regardless, you will be able to use this information as a comparison point for this year’s course.

3. Determine causalities.
You have the goals. You have today’s data. You have your past courses’ data. Now you must determine the why of it all. Compare and contrast to understand what caused any anomalies in the numbers. If your course had a significant increase in student enrollment, try to determine what your course has now that it didn’t have then. On the opposite side of the spectrum, if your data comparison has shown a negative result, try to grasp the present-day issues. What is different? Has your marketing strategy changed? Has enrollment in your organization affected your business? This is the time to take an objective a fresh look.

4. Determine an action plan based on your baseline.
Now that you have a firm understanding of your course’s performance rate, you should be able to determine an action plan for the next semester. What can you do to continue your success? Alternately, what can you do to recuperate any loses? Sit down with your team once again and formulate a decisive place that will ensure a brighter future.

5. Establish a new goal.
During the action plan meeting, achieving “status quo” should not be your goal. You should be trying to do better in your previously-established goals. The best part of all this? XenDirect allows you to easily pull and analyze data. We offer hundreds of reports that you can utilize to better understand your courses and better serve your students!
Baselines help you appreciate your progress and determine a proactive strategy for the future. While there is always room for improvement, knowing where to focus your energy is half the battle. After all, you can’t move forward if you don’t know where you started.

Visit our site to learn more about Xenegrade and our world-class XenDirect software: http://ow.ly/5RPH30j6B98

Author Rick J. Stern

Entrepreneur Rick Stern built Xenegrade Corp with a focus on service to educational organizations. With an MBA from Simon School of Business at the University of Rochester and over 20 years continuing education management, his experience provides valuable insight into the needs, demands, and trends of the continuing education market.

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