An Introduction to Modern Learning Ecosystems

     

Learning is an intrinsically human activity that happens in many places and in many ways. It doesn’t matter how great or feature-rich any one learning system is, learning will never happen in just one place. The modern learning ecosystem not only recognizes this reality, but also embraces it to support the learner wherever and however he or she learns best. In this blog series, we’ll explore learning ecosystems and how they relate to data ecosystems, while also sharing real-world case studies and useful takeaways so you can map out, create, and grow your own ecosystems.

What is a modern learning ecosystem?

A learning ecosystem represents all the tools, technologies, resources, and places where the learning happens across your organization. (Don’t confuse this with a data ecosystem, which represents all the tools and technologies that comprise an organization’s overall data infrastructure.)

Learning Happens Everywhere.

Learning can and should happen in many different places. Whether it’s formal learning delivered in the classroom or in the LMS via e-learning, or whether it’s informal learning pulled from a SharePoint site, YouTube video, Google search, or a peer—learning is happening everywhere, and it’s all part of your corporate learning ecosystem.

Learning also happens in many different ways. A leadership development program should be different than annual compliance training. For example, leadership development might rely heavily on mentoring sessions, university programs, and immersive experiences; whereas, compliance training likely relies on e-learning and in-the-field assessments. Every learning program likely has its own variant of a learning ecosystem. But, do you know what your learning ecosystems actually look like?

Why do I need a learning ecosystem? 

Just as a roadmap is critical for seeing your location, where you can go, and how you can get there, a map of your learning ecosystems is critical if you want to fully understand how and where your learners are receiving information. 

Learning programs have their own learning ecosystems.

Redefining the learning ecosystem architecture

Historically, the LMS (or learning management system) was at the center of most learning ecosystems, but it’s important to remember not every system that delivers learning is an LMS.

In fact, during the last few years, new technologies—such as learning record stores, learning experience platforms, and microlearning providers—have begun to push the LMS away from being the focal point of the learning ecosystem. The LMS isn’t going away, as it still serves a vital function; rather, its primacy is diminishing. 

Building your own learning ecosystems 

Learning is an activity that happens everywhere, all the time. We need to embrace the modern learning ecosystem and understand that different tools, including the LMS, will have their own unique roles to play.

Join us for this blog series, as we dive into the world of learning ecosystems. Here are just a few things you'll take away from this series:

  • How learning ecosystems relate to data ecosystems
  • How to identify and list all the pieces and places that comprise learning
  • Case studies from L&D practitioners
  • Resources to help you map out, create, and grow your own ecosystems

Up Next: Discovering your organization’s learning and data ecosystems

You can't use data unless you know where to find it and where to send it. And you can’t create a modern learning ecosystem until you understand what it is and how it fits into an overall data ecosystem. In our next post, we’ll show you how you to start discovering these ecosystems within your own organization. Sign up for Watershed Insights and get the latest blog posts sent straight to your inbox. 


What's in your learning ecosystem?

As you begin mapping your ecosystem, you may realize the need for new tools, resources, and strategies. But what should you consider as you investigate these new things? Watch this recorded webinar to learn more about the questions you should ask when evaluating tools for your modern learning ecosystem. And then go a step further and check out Degreed's report, The Innovator's Guide to Learning Technology.

Modern Learning Ecosystem Webinar Recording

Mike Rustici

About The Author

As an innovative software developer turned entrepreneur, Mike Rustici has been defining the eLearning industry for nearly 20 years. After co-founding Rustici Software in 2002, Mike helped guide the first draft of xAPI and invented the concept of a Learning Record Store (LRS). In 2013, he delivered on the promise of xAPI with the creation of Watershed, the flagship LRS that bridges the gap between training and performance.