Ever wonder why those L&D departments keep talking about learning journeys (or maybe use the term continuous learning), and how you might get started?
Let us break it down for you, outlining the importance of learning journeys, our take on them, and some practical tips to get you going on your journeys in your LMS system.
When I think of a journey, I definitely imagine some trek in Nepal, maybe the Rockies… I’m not picky. Never in my mind before entering the field of eLearning, did I think of journeys as the path an employee goes through when entering his company. But when you think about it, it does kind of make sense.
Through working with hundreds of companies, we’ve come to notice the importance of that path of continuous learning – or that learning journey – the learner undergoes.
Now, we all can imagine such journeys going array. The onboarding was a mess, several different departments have to coordinate with each other just to get a course going (so it might even not ever come to light), and so on and so on.
Our solution for managers, employees, L&D departments and the rest of us? Learning Management Systems (LMS)!
Our Take on Learning Journeys
When you approach an organization and offer to build a personalized journey for each of their employees that would empower and engage the learner, each in his own way and taken at his own pace, most of our clients roll their eyes. We don’t blame them.
Once you get to know the office learning environment, you see just how much diversity there is, both in roles and in types of people. You’ve got your managers mixed in with your HR departments, your low-level employees mixed in with your accountants. Some may be fast learners, some may be slow. And each has his or her own unique ways of retaining information, of remembering what they have learned.
Let me tell you a story about an organization that came to us with a big dream. Both insider and channel service representative training, done easily, effectively and without the hustle that we usually see in training.
Challenges to getting started with learning journeys
The challenges that faced us when starting this project were the great geographical differences between the learners, their varying needs and technological awareness, and the difference between the content each community needed to learn.
When we asked them what’s going on nowadays learning-wise, they explained that they are currently spending enormous amounts of money sending instructors all over the country to train and teach, sit hours to plan different learning strategies and lesson plans for different audiences. And, mostly, frustration.
Why frustration? Mostly because the old way of spreading much-needed information simply wasn’t working any more. The content wasn’t being retained by the learners, the customers weren’t happy with the way the service reps were handling their requests, and their limited knowledge on different issues.
As a result, the managers explained, customers started blaming the quality of the product instead of the lack of knowledge apparent in their service reps. At a certain level, the good name of the product was tarnished, and not by the virtue of the product itself.
Now, being learning developers as we are, we went in and specified that the problem was with the knowledge transfer from the headquarters to the service representatives out in the field.
So far, so simple. But after some research, we discovered that the learning isn’t consistent throughout the service centers, it doesn’t deliver real value, and there isn’t a way for the people sitting at headquarters to manage and check whether the information was taught well and retained.
The solution – an LMS
The company headquarters, at this point in the meeting, turned to us expectantly and asked: “Well? Do you think you can fix it?” Our answer was yes. Absolutely.
Many learning management systems, Ekko included, have built-in tools to help anyone – and not necessarily the training manager or the L&D department – to build meaningful, impactful learning journeys for each of their employees.
See, it’s not that we don’t appreciate these guys. It’s just that sometimes they’re so packed themselves, they barely have the time to monitor and look at what’s going on with the employees they’ve been assigned to guide and teach.
So let’s take it upon ourselves (we promise, it’s a non-hustle for some pretty great results) to build and track the learning journeys of our employees.
Planning Learning Journeys in your LMS for a Better Future
The first thing we had to tackle was looking at the different personas of each of the sales representatives. Some were working for partner companies, some were working directly under headquarters, some were there since the day the company was built, others fresh off the recruitment boat. And of course – their personal differences.
In accordance with the types of personas we identified, we then moved on to think how each such persona would use the LMS system, and what they needed and wanted to get out of the learning process. Some may use the system to get additional information, some may even use the system to train their own employees.
The next step was to see what “baggage” – in both the positive and negative sense of the word – our employees were bringing with them into the system.
Do they know the products they sell well enough? What are the critical points they have to learn about the product in order to be a valuable resource when customers come to us with concerns? Do they know the company’s regulations well enough, and are they able to truly implement them when the time comes?
Then, we wanted to paint for ourselves a clear picture of our desired finish line. For example, we defined learner success as the employee claiming (s)he feels connected to the company and its goals, knows the ins and outs of the products, its procedures, the staff, and so on.
Now that we had our beginning and our end, let’s look at how to use our LMS system to the best of its abilities and how we can, in fact, use it to build meaningful learning journeys for our employees.
Working with Your LMS System
To make things simple, we complied a simple to-do list for you, with things to think about and do when building a learning path for your user.
1. What will be the opening message for the journey?
This may seem like a small thing, but think that this message will be the first thing your learner receives from your LMS, and will decide how they will feel about it at the all-important first impression.
If you’re already there, think also of the messages the learner will get at the end of his journey? Wait, maybe some in the middle too? It all depends on your sense of moderation and what you think your learners need.
2. What content will the learning path contain?
Is it something that already exists in your databases, maybe some old folders you got from your predecessor but never bothered to open? Or, maybe it’s brand new material – a new regulation, something you guys haven’t really taken and tried to teach before today?
It’s important to know where you can get your content from, what it is, and of course, whether it’s necessary for the journey. In addition, although the content relayed to the same persona must be consistent across the board, think about how each person will get to that finish line.
3. What is the order of content in the path, and what units will make up that path?
Remember, each learner may require different content depending on where they come from, what they’re especially good/bad at, and other personal characteristics.
The order of the units – think of subtopics under a bigger umbrella of topics – may impact the learner’s retention, and what they remember best.
4. How much freedom does the learner walking along his path?
Does the learner get to go back and forth across the different units (keep in mind this may mean he will skip some sections), or will they be required to finish one unit before moving on to the next?
Will all the content in the path be revealed to the learner right at the beginning of his journey, or do I make the learner adhere to my timeline and reveal little by little?
5. How much do we want to get our managers involved in the learning journey?
Do we want them to get periodical emails about the progress of their employees? Or maybe just an email reminding them to check-in at the end of the path?
(We’ve a blog post on how manager engagement can boost your LMS usage if you’re interested in learning more about this topic.)
6. Would it be useful for us to group similar learners together, so the assignment to courses and paths would be easier and automatic, in most cases?
The answer you’re looking for is definitely ‘YES’! No matter who you are, what industry you work in, or who your employees are, learning journeys are the way to go.
Employees who go through learning journeys that are carefully planned and thought through are more satisfied, have higher performance rates, and are just, well, better.
Simplify Learning Journey Management with an LMS
An LMS will make that process so much easier, automatic and painless.
If you’d like to know more about how our Ekko platform can help – arrange a demo!