Learning is an intrinsically human activity that happens in many places and many ways. It doesn’t matter how great or feature-rich any single learning system is; learning will never happen in just one place. The modern learning ecosystem recognizes this reality and embraces it to support learners wherever and however they learn best.
In this blog series, we’ll explore learning ecosystems and how they relate to data ecosystems while sharing real-world case studies and valuable 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 can and should happen in many different places. Whether it’s formal learning delivered in the classroom or the LMS via eLearning, or informal learning pulled from an LXP, YouTube video, Google search, or 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 eLearning and in-the-field assessments.
Every learning program probably 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 essential if you want to understand how and where your learners receive information.
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.
However, the LMS isn’t going away, as it still serves a vital function; rather, its importance is diminishing.
This blog series is ideal if you’re new to learning and data ecosystems, need help mapping out your own diagram, or are simply interested in understanding how technology, xAPI, and training measurement fit into these ecosystems.
We’ll explain these organizational ecosystems, how you can effectively discover and create your ecosystem from design through implementation, and share a few real-world examples.
- Discover Your Organization’s Ecosystems
Learning happens in many places across your organization and with tools other than your LMS. See some examples of the types of training and related tools that might comprise your ecosystem.
- The Ripple Effect: Learning & Data Ecosystems
See how changes to different elements of an ecosystem can impact learning experiences and other components in the ecosystem.
- How to Develop a Learning Ecosystem Strategy
Think strategically about creating a “big picture” about your ecosystem and explore how your ecosystems interact with other business systems across the organization.
- How to Add Data Sources & Iterate
Look at how to choose a good starter data source, connect it, and build from there.
- How The Behr Paint Company replaced the LMS
In this L&D spotlight, see how The Behr Paint Company replaced its LMS with a learning ecosystem.
- How Visa & Verizon built learning and data ecosystems with LMSs
In this second L&D spotlight, see how Visa and Verizon have kept their LMSs and continue to use them as part of their ecosystems alongside other platforms.
We've compiled some of our favorite related resources just for you.
- How to Build a Data Ecosystem Diagram with Room to Grow
Find out why visualizing a data ecosystem for your organization is important and how you can build your own.
- Webinar: How to Build Your Learning Tech Stack
If you want to build and scale your learning programs for the future, you have to start with a solid technology foundation. In this recorded webinar, see how to build or restructure your learning tech stack foundation.
Up Next: Discover Your Organization’s Learning & 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. Our next post will show you how to discover these ecosystems within your organization.
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.
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