Turn Up the Heat of Your Learning Ecosystem’s ROI

Evolve your siloed learning platforms into integrated, multi-platform workflows

A decade or two ago, your organization’s learning ecosystem was probably comprised of just one thing: a Learning Management System (LMS). It was the only game in town and it did a decent job at its core function: It was a system of record that hosted and tracked your catalog of eLearning courses and in-person/virtual trainings. But your LMS didn’t meet all your learning needs.

Within the last decade, organizations (most likely yours too) began expanding their learning ecosystems to enhance the workers’ experience and provide greater business value. New tools and learning designs began proliferating including:

  • Learning Experience Platforms (LXPs) such as Degreed: to empower employees to pull the learning that interests them as well as track the skills they are developing
  • Spaced Learning such as Qstream: to increase employees’ retention as well provide managers with actionable analytics to improve their team’s proficiency
  • Adaptive Learning such as Fulcrum Labs: to rapidly upskill employees with just the right amount of training at the right difficultly level to increase performance
  • Virtual Collaboration such as Teams: to host virtual Instructor Led Trainings (vILT) to provide personalized learning and support at scale

Currently, most organizations’ learning ecosystems include several platforms- each addressing different learning and business needs. And each of these platforms typically functions as a separate, siloed entity- with no integration with other systems beyond single sign on (SSO). However, it’s in integration with other systems where you can turn up the heat and get more value out of your learning ecosystem.

Think About Your Learning Ecosystem as a Kitchen

This may sound a little silly, but the analogy of thinking about your learning ecosystem as a kitchen is worth considering. In your own kitchen, each appliance has a different function, whether it’s to keep food cold, heat it, or mix it. If you just want something simple, like a cold glass of milk, then one appliance will do- your refrigerator. However, if you want something more complex, like a cake, then you’ll need a few appliances to make it.

If each of your learning platforms was a kitchen appliance, then your LMS might be the refrigerator, vILT a power mixer, and your LXP the stove. In your learning ecosystem kitchen, if you wanted to make a simple thing like a completion report, then you’d only need to use one appliance to do so- your LMS.

However, if you wanted to make something like a skill or capability for your workforce, that would be more complex. That’s because to build your organization’s skills, you need more than just a report of completed courses. Your learning ecosystem needs to be robust- enabling your content to be:

  • Pushed so workers can build their core knowledge
  • Anchored so they can practice their new skills
  • Pulled so they apply skills in the flow of their work

There is no single learning platform that does all of that- which is why you have a learning ecosystem. For example, you could have a traditional or adaptive course in your LMS to push core knowledge, a vILT or Qstream to anchor the new skills, and content in Degreed or SharePoint so workers can pull support when needed in the flow of their work.

Yet as good as this is, you can get even more out of your learning ecosystem. Returning to our kitchen analogy, it’s not enough to have the ingredients (your content) and appliances (your learning platforms). You also need a recipe to follow to make your cake- in this case, the recipe consists of the backend API integrations and algorithms between the platforms. A recipe is user-centric and automatically helps workers progress through particular sequences of learning experiences based on their specific performance.

For example, consider the following integrated workflow (recipe): When a worker completes an assigned course in your LMS (Push), she is automatically enrolled in a Qstream over the next month to reinforce and retain what she’s learned (Anchor). When she misses Qstream questions on key topics, the artificial intelligence in Degreed is automatically fed that information and then fine-tunes her learning profile. When she decides what to explore in Degreed next time, her recommendations of what to learn are precision matched to not only her interests but her performance as well (Pull).

Algorithms in each platform specify under what conditions the next part of a worker’s learning journey should continue, on what platform, and with the addition of what key analytics. The architecture and design of these integrated and automated workflows should map directly to meeting strategic business needs, such as upskilling current workers or reducing turnover of new workers.

When you are ready to level-up your learning ecosystem, you’ll be able to leverage real-time integrations between your platforms. When workflow integrations are designed, developed, and deployed, your workers’ learning journeys can seamlessly flow between platforms automatically to meet their individual needs and provide greater workforce insights to multiple levels of your organization (workers, managers, and project owners). With an integrated learning ecosystem, you’ll be able to make your cake and eat it too.

Are You Curious About How to Do This?

Some organizations are already blazing the trail in this area. If you’d like to have a conversation about these ideas with some learning thought leaders who are proving enhanced ROI of their learning ecosystems, take the next step here: https://www.MyBaselineBuilder.com/take-the-next-step/.

If you want to explore more, check out the resources at https://www.MyBaselineBuilder.com/resources/ which include:

  • Our capability-building framework
  • A chapter we co-authored from the 2021 Distance Education Book of the Year- Microlearning in the Digital Age
  • Our Push-Anchor-Pull™ approach which won a 2021 Brandon Hall Gold Award in the Future of Work

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Johnny Hamilton

Johnny Hamilton

As an award-winning learning innovation thought leader, writer, and learning architect/designer, I’m helping design and build the future of workplace learning.