A new way to think about Learning Tech
Let’s be honest, when it comes to Learning Technologies, you’ve probably read, heard and forgotten more about learning platforms than you’d ever care to. Whether it’s the debate around what we call them: LMS (Learning Management Systems), LXP (Learning Experience Platforms), NGLE (Next-Gen Learning Environments), LRS (Learning Record Store) or even what new and disruptive players are joining the market like internal talent marketplaces. The biggest problem with the majority of these articles is that they focus on a singular platform (like an LXP) and try and weigh out the pros and cons.
This article aims to give you an overview of what you should really be thinking about in the modern workplace when it comes to Learning Technologies.
The first thing L&D leaders need to understand is that modern tech very rarely ‘works’ independently. We don’t use systems in silos anymore, e.g. you don’t just use Microsoft Teams or Slack as an instant messaging platform, but also for video conferencing, file sharing and collaboration. You expect to be able to see your email calendar, add extensions and plugins to CRM systems, social media and even your learning platform and it’s all got to be accessible over multiple devices and browsers.
With that in mind you should be focused on the experiences you’re trying to create, facilitate or enable your learners to be able to do through learning tech (or tech in general). Do this by creating a list or collection of use cases that can then be used to define and measure the effectiveness of the tools, systems, platforms and processes we’re considering buying or creating experiences with.
Now that you’re thinking about modern learning and tech in the right way. This is when we move into thinking about learning eco-systems rather than learning technologies and platforms. We’ve moved past the time when the focus was on delivering training, accessing eLearning courses or reporting on completions, to now focusing on work and performance experiences and how we can measure and adapt our learning projects to prove effective.
The easiest way to do this, is to think of user journeys or stories also known as Use Cases through partnering with business functions e.g. “Giving sales team leaders the ability to create / share and notify their team on new resources, whilst being able to review how effective these resources were as part of a new product release and sales campaign”. Now, if we dig deeper into that use case, we can start pulling out features and requirements that we need to facilitate this experience before thinking about what type of platform(s) we need:
- Need to be able to deliver/access various forms of media from videos, written articles, eLearning in an easy to manage way.
- Users need to be able to access or refer to resources in the time of need (within the flow of work) when speaking with clients through Slack, CRM system, on their mobiles anywhere else ‘work’ happens.
- UGC (user generated content) required to allow team leaders and sales execs to create or upload their own content, e.g., sales tips, common objections, best practice etc.
- Platform needs to integrate with email and messaging apps such as MS Teams or Slack for notifications and nudges.
- Need to be able to access and attribute ‘learning’ data (training/resources accessed) with performance data (objections overcome, appointments made, sales completed etc.) meaning there will have to be some kind of data link like an API between the learning platform, CRM and business intelligence platform (Google Looker, Power BI etc.).
- Must be easy to extract a data dashboard so Team Leaders can pull performance reports/data without the need for a central L&D admin.
This kind of activity pushes past the usual questions around features and benefits of learning platforms and forces us to think about how we’re actually supporting our seat at the business table, through learning experiences that go hand-in-hand with business outcomes. Now when we think about learning technologies through this lens, we’re thinking about a learning eco-system that we can leverage to support our learning and business goals.
Take a moment to think about recent learning experiences that you’ve designed or are designing. Do you feel restricted by the tech you have available? Are you designing solutions through the lens of just your LMS or learning platform? If so, you might want to take a step back and rethink your learning tech strategy or, think about how you can map out and incorporate existing ‘non-learning’ tech into the discovery or design phase.
Ultimately, when it comes to learning and development, the goal for all workplaces, should be to democratise learning, knowledge and skill acquisition through technology.
Yousaf Khan is Digital Learning Consultant and Founder of BespokeLND – a digital learning agency helping global brands like Gymshark, Unilever, and HSBC transform workplace learning through learning tech transformations, strategy consulting and learning experience and content design. With a background in senior sales and marketing and his expertise on modern digital learning he brings a refreshing approach to today’s L&D challenges.