The term ‘learning ecosystem’ has been used increasingly in recent years. Though it may sound confusing at first, the term means exactly what it sounds like; in the same way that an ecosystem in nature represents the interactions of the different species of plants and animals within it, a learning ecosystem combines the people, technologies, learning material and data that relate to your organisation’s learning processes into a unified and holistic system.
Thinking of your organisation’s resources in the framework of a learning ecosystem means considering the ways in which the individual components work together to support one another, and the ways in which changes within the system can affect the overall whole. In an ideal learning ecosystem, an organisation’s strategy, platforms and people work together to best support the entire learning system.
What does a learning ecosystem do?
A learning ecosystem creates a model of the relationships between the different elements of learning within your organisation, helping you form a plan for your learning that accounts for how changes to one part of the system shape and influence the entire ecosystem.
What makes up a learning ecosystem?
Your learning ecosystem is comprised of each part of your learning processes, from learners and learning designers through to your learning data. They are the elements of your learning that you work with every day – but by thinking of them as parts of a larger whole, and by considering the ways in which they can each influence one another, you are able to more clearly envision and plan for the whole of your learning system. When considering your learning ecosystem, it is helpful to think of the following elements:
A strategic plan sets the boundaries and expectations for your learning system, sitting at the beginning and end of every process involved. Your learning and development strategy will inform the rest of your learning ecosystem, determining the content developed and platforms used to deliver your learning programs. Outcomes from your programs should be targeted towards meeting organisational goals, and the performance of your learning and your learning ecosystem is measured by how effectively they can support those goals and drive overall performance.
The people in your learning ecosystem include not just everyone who is engaged in undertaking or providing your training, but also the stakeholders who determine the policies behind it and the people such as customers and co-workers who will be interacting with your learners and whose experiences will be shaped by the effectiveness of your learning.
Within your learning ecosystem, you may want to think of the contributions and impacts from the following groups:
- Managers - Policy and strategy decisions that determine learning priorities and key performance indicators
- Vendors- Provide products and services to facilitate learning and development
- Learning Designers - Creation of learning to meet organisational requirements
- Trainers - Deliver content and support learner development
- Learners- Undertake learning to develop skills required for strategic development
- Co-Workers - Interact with learners during and after skills development; rely on learners development
- Customers, Users and Public - Interact with learners during and after skills development; are impacted by learners’ customer service / job performance skills
As ever, your content is the core of your learning ecosystem. Comprising the whole scope of your learning materials, your content is the largest part of how you will impart the skills and knowledge that your learners need to meet the goals set out in your overall learning strategy.
Not all content sits within a conventional learning plan; be aware that on the job training, support from mentors and managers, webinars and e-books can all contribute to the mix of content within your learning ecosystem. Taking stock of what elements are present in your content mix and how they contribute to the learning ecosystem will help you to best target your learning material to the needs of your learners and the overall strategy of your organisation.
Your platforms are the technology and systems that you will use to deliver and facilitate your learning programs. Learning Management Systems and Learning Record Stores have opened up the possibility to move learning out of the training room and allow learners to have a greater say in how, when and where they interact with their course. How your platforms interact with and enable your content has a great influence in the delivery of your course, and modern platforms enable better collection and use of learning data, introducing a new element to consider in the development of your learning ecosystem.
Though it may be tempting to look for a single platform that can address all of your learning needs, in practice a system that tries to do everything will inevitably do most things poorly. Depending on the needs of your organisation, you may need to look at a diverse range of platforms, from your LMS, to external platforms such as LinkedIn Learning, to portals focussed on delivering specific solutions for work integrated and experiential learning, micro learning, microcredentials, virtual classrooms and more. What is most important is ensuring that the platforms you use work together within your ecosystem to deliver the results you need.
With learning platforms now able to gather learning data beyond simple pass/fail metrics, data has become an incredibly important part of a healthy learning ecosystem. With relevant and timely learning data, you will be able to track the performance of your content, measure the success of your learners and ensure that course outcomes are driving the results that are required to meet the strategic goals of your organisation. With the right data available, you are empowered to make the right decisions to ensure that your learning ecosystem is performing as you need it to.
What doesn’t a learning ecosystem do?
Though it might be tempting to think so, an effective learning ecosystem is not self-sustaining. Like all aspects of an organisation, it requires regular attention to ensure that the different components within it work together, and that it continues to align to the organisation’s goals and strategy. Though a well created learning system will help to make many aspects of learning design, development and delivery simpler, it is not a completely automated process – rather, it’s a more effective way to consider and implement an organisation’s learning and development models.
Creating an effective learning ecosystem means that you will be equipped with a holistic view of the systems, resources and processes that deliver on your organisation's learning and development strategy, helping to ensure that you solve your organisation's unique challenges in the way that best suits your goals. If you want to get started creating an ecosystem that will help drive success, Guroo Producer can help provide advice and platforms that can help you develop a learning ecosystem that’s right for your organisation – get in touch with us today and set up a discussion about what we can do for you.