Learning and Development function has been going through a transformation over the last decade or so with the continuous advent of newer tools, technologies and innovation in training delivery. As businesses go through transformations and disruptions continuously, L&D has to adapt to align to business needs to equip learners for the change by using the right content, process, tools and technologies.
Traditionally, businesses have been using a single learning system for training management to either schedule classroom sessions or roll-out eLearning courses or assessments. To supplement their LMS, they have been using other tools, catalogue libraries or systems as well.
The 21st century is all about digital technologies and harnessing the overall potential of technologies and human talent. Organizations will have continuous pressure on addressing skill and competency gap, talent retention, attrition rates and workforce engagement among other pressing issues, which has brought L&D to the spotlight.
Today businesses are giving more importance to L&D than ever. Organizations are investing in L&D initiatives and their talent because technology and our workforce evolution are moving at a faster pace, and constant learning is the only thing that will bring the right balance between competency gap and required skills.
To provide the best learning experiences to the learners in this fast-paced environment, L&D has realized that just one learning system will not suffice anymore and that an integrated system which can unify all the systems within the organization is required. This brings the latest buzzword in the learning industry, ‘Learning Ecosystem’ to the forefront.
What is a Learning Ecosystem?
A Learning Ecosystem is a collection of people, content, processes, tools and technologies that deliver, integrate and support the L&D function within and outside of an organization. All of this has an impact on both formal and informal learning in an organization.
Every organization would have an ecosystem like a natural ecosystem, whether it was formed intentionally or not. It could comprise of several interconnected elements (content, people, processes, etc.) and environments (tools & technologies) with multidimensional relationships.
These ecosystems within an organization could differ in their level of maturity in terms of connectivity between L&D function, people, processes, tools and technologies. The maturity model has several levels, starting with the first level where there could be no connectivity between these systems, or second, where there might be little L&D function and some connectivity between people, processes, L&D function, tools and technologies or a more mature situation with complete integration between L&D function, people, processes, tools and technologies.
How Helpful is a Learning Ecosystem?
As mentioned earlier, industries are constantly being disrupted, causing organizations to rethink their business models, products and services to stay in the competition. This has affected the way organizations prepare themselves to compete. They face challenges internally and have more lean structures to infuse better collaboration and lesser hierarchy.
To be competitive in the market, organizations must prepare their people to align with business needs and equip them to be more competitive and agile. Employees want better learning experiences and want to equip themselves with new skills that not only align them with the business needs but also help them grow. Which means L&D must continuously think and evolve the overall development solutions, make it as personal as possible to each learner or learner groups.
Traditionally, L&D has focussed on ILT or eLearning and not aligned to newer and more natural ways of learning or informal way of learning (LinkedIn, YouTube, specific learning communities, Podcasts and others). To ensure the traditional approach marries with the newer or informal way of learning, the introduction of the Learning Ecosystem within the learning culture of an organization is required.
The Learning Ecosystems comes with a load of benefits, from standardizing information across tools to extending it for creating a complete human Learning Ecosystem. The intention is to always focus on the business needs and the problems we are trying to solve. Accordingly, implementing a suitable solution which provides the required flexibility to the learners.
How to Build a Learning Ecosystem?
The Learning Ecosystem is for the leaners, to engage them by giving them the freedom to learn at their pace, providing relevant content and using the tools and technologies they have easy access to. How well we unify various mediums defines the success of the overall initiative.
Your current infrastructure may comprise of all or few viz., LMS, catalogue libraries of content, Microlearning platform, video portal, Gamification engines, internal communities and others. Most of these would usually be running in isolation. Based on the level of maturity of your Learning Ecosystem, you can start small by integrating two systems by enabling them to communicate with each other. This first step will enable you to assess how the integration is functioning and then after a while, you can start integrating other systems. The process has to be iterative to overcome any integration challenges and the ecosystem should have the flexibility to scale up or down to sync with your business needs.
The Learning Ecosystem development does require a good understanding of all technologies involved, custom API integrations, single-sign-on (SSO), cloud systems and others. You can leverage on the strength of your internal information technology team or a partner who can help you with the overall analysis, selection of right tools and technologies and work with you throughout the initiation and provide on-going support.
Implementing a Learning Ecosystem involves satisfying multiple internal stakeholders and delivering compelling learning experiences that are modern and trackable. The Learning Ecosystem you develop should leverage all mediums of learning, provide personalized learning to enrich the capability and competence of your learners and should support your business goals.
We at, Tesseract Learning, work with customers in identifying the current maturity level of your existing Learning Ecosystem, then define the required maturity level of the Learning Ecosystem and finally work with you in implementing the Learning Ecosystem. Our engagement continues beyond initial implementation to ensure the ecosystem continues to evolve and provide the freedom to the learners to learn everything they should and must.