With today’s business challenges being bigger and more pressurised than ever before, traditional solutions are no longer meeting the mark. The same is true for learner expectations. Rose and Andrew detailed the features and advantages of using a learning ecosystem, and how easy it is to get started.
Throughout the interactive webinar session, Rose and Andrew answered questions that were submitted by the attendees, and we are sharing their full answers below:
Q1) Does a learning ecosystem work in an organization with a lot of control? Will it be a sort of ‘Big Brother is watching you’?
Rose: In most cases, the learner likely would not know that their data is being tracked. This is where building in measurement and collecting data on the back-end of the system, and tracking where people are going within that learning ecosystem, is very powerful. There are some – and I would never actually recommend this – but there are some companies out there that have asked people to self-report. This is very unreliable, so few organisations have done that and if they have, it wasn’t for very long. Another way to capture all the data, without building in measurement as part of the system, is IT. IT following everything someone does. That is what comes across as Big Brother, but we’re not seeing a lot of that. It is one of the options for tracking data, but that gets invasive and Big Brother-esque.
Tim Martin, the CEO of Rustici Software, who pioneered SCORM and invented xAPI, talks about this a lot. One of the things that has come out of my conversations with him is that, for some reason, the use of IT technology to ‘watch’ everything is actually happening in some places, but is getting a lot of pushback because it seems so Big Brother-esque.
By standardising data that a system collects, this can be fed into a mass of data as visualisations. This shows, for example, that you’ve got 37 people of 50 who did this and this and this. It will be attached to the user ID they signed on with, but your learners may never know that. Then it comes down to your organisation’s preferences on how you ethically use that data.
Q2) Our learners can gain most of this knowledge elsewhere for less money than us investing in an internal system. Why is it worthwhile for us to make this investment?
Andrew: My immediate response is that’s not an either/or situation. We recognise that a lot of learners are learning from outside their organisations – a massive amount of learning now takes place externally. These systems can track the use of some of those sources and resources, whether they’re informal within an organisation, or potentially we can see what learners are doing and where they’re getting their knowledge from externally as well. So I think they’re not mutually exclusive – an ecosystem is after all joining up of a whole lot of different learning components systems, assets, experiences, and it’s doing it in a clever way.
Rose: I would also look back at what the benefits of a learning ecosystem are. In situations where learners are gaining knowledge elsewhere, then it comes down to whether you are interested in knowing where they are gaining that knowledge from. A learning ecosystem can help you with that. What are people using to gain the knowledge and is there a way we can make it easier for them to get it? That is good data to have. With this information, making content more easily accessible or immediately served might end up being one of your specifications about the ecosystem that your company needs. That becomes a requirement.
As for the second part of your question, which is why is it worthwhile to make the investment, this comes back to measurement. In the situation that’s being described here, it sounds like there might be some difficulty in finding information and therefore people are seeking it elsewhere. You might be able to keep people in your system, or build a system that’s even easier for them to use, by managing where that content exists and how people can access it easily from one location, or multiple locations if that’s the need. In terms of the investment, data is huge because you’re going to start to find out what things people are viewing (what’s actually working) and if somebody who goes externally are they getting something better than somebody who’s going internally and why is that? There’s no end to what can be revealed and much of that will be immediately actionable.
Q3) Would we need to have a learning or performance management system in place before we consider a learning ecosystem?
Rose: Absolutely not. There are many learner experience tools, but an LMS is not a learner experience tool; it’s a business tool. An LMS is about being able to see what your learner is doing, more so than making the learner experience elegant or visually appealing. There are lots of other types of technology you can use that merge together the processes of getting at content while making the experience a pleasant one.