What is an e-learning ecosystem?
An e-learning ecosystem is the collection of all initiatives that work together to create a complete learning experience in your organization. Important here is that it is not the set of initiatives that have value, but rather the relationship between all components that makes it more than the sum of its parts. Each new initiative or a replacement of an existing initiative should be assessed as such.
A learning ecosystem is comprised out of people, classroom and e-Learning content, technology, culture, and strategy. Both from within the organizations and outside of the organization. All of which contributing to both formal and informal learning. In this blog we will mostly look at the learning ecosystem from a learning technology perspective.
A learning ecosystem is also more than just a Learning Management System (LMS). When somebody wants a solution to their learning need, they hardly jump directly to the LMS for answers. They first search for sources closer to their daily practice, ask a colleague or find answers in an online manual.
For example: you have been perfecting a training program that is part of a formal learning experience. You discover that there is a quick reference sheet available on OneDrive, created by people within the organization. This sheet has more impact than the formal classroom training.
Why think about an e-learning ecosystem?
As someone working in L&D it is important to reflect on the learning ecosystem of your organization. The learning ecosystem is an environment where people interact with content, formal and informal. People do this through technology and go through learning experiences created by the organization and others.
Understanding what is currently in place and how people in the organization experience your learning ecosystem can feed important decisions about your learning initiatives. In short, thinking about your learning ecosystem can increase employee engagement, cut down reskilling costs and increase innovation in your organization.
Learning technology in your e-learning ecosystem
Learning technology has been in the foreground for many years now. New tech offers both new opportunities and a fair share of challenges. It can meet the demands to offer e-Learning content, create e-Learning content, measure outcomes, offer social experiences and be in general a gateway to knowledge and skills. It can also blind organizations to follow the latest trends and potentially break the balance in the existing learning ecosystem.
Let’s look at how Josh Bersin maps out the learning infrastructure in his ‘HR Predictions for 2022’:
Source: The Josh Bersin Company, 2021
If you see a lot of elements, don’t be alarmed. Most of these elements are integrated into an end-to-end solution that is comprised out of 1 platform. What you do notice, is that there is quite a wide range of functions for the technology that an organization should think about.
The top level of technology is what people use every day, throughout the day. This is the first point of access when executing their work.
In this level, the aim for people is to explore and discover content (both classroom and e-Learning). Either finding formal learning content (short or long form) or informal content that they are interested in.
On this level, people are looking for formal learning and training. And they will try to find it with a specific purpose in mind.
Systems found in this foundation layer are supporting all processes in the layers above. If reporting needs to be centralized, an LRS can help to track everything that has been completed across all technologies. When certification is important, a ‘classic’ LMS can support. And if off-the shelf e-Learning content can bridge knowledge gaps, providers like LinkedIn or SkillSoft can integrate their e-Learning content in the layers above.
How to build a scalable e-learning ecosystem
To prepare your organization for the future and to keep up with an organization’s rapid changing learning needs it is important to think about how you can respond to these changes.
On the one hand you have the technology whereby you want to make sure the information people look for or you want them to understand, is easily accessible. Also, the flows of how to get to that content need to be clear for people to find what they need. Likewise with expectations you might have of learners. What is expected from them when it comes to the use of the existing learning technologies.
2. Content (e-Learning)
Not only do you need a system to bring people to the content they need, but you also need to make sure there is actual content. We already mentioned off-the-shelf content providers that can support with generic learning materials. But what if you want to create content tailored to your organization? For some content you can go the route of bespoke e-Learning content creation and rely on a third party to create the content for you. Or you can use a Content authoring system.
With FLOWSPARKS you can create e-Learning content within the organization itself. By being able to rely on the instructional design that is inherent to FLOWSPARKS, you are not only sure that it is your content that is on the foreground, but you can also be assured that there will be actual learning to take place.