A multifaceted learning approach is critical to establishing a reliable training program that supports and accommodates all types of learners. To that end, the most successful organizations have a strong training ecosystem to support their employees.

What is a training ecosystem, and what are its main components? How can you build a strong training ecosystem that accommodates the learning your employees need in order to be successful? This article will answer these questions.

What Is a Training Ecosystem?

First, a definition: A training ecosystem is everything within an organization that is dedicated to employees’ learning and growth.

Think of the ecosystems we find in nature. No matter what the setting, they all have one thing in common: They’re made up of many parts that interact with each other to create a whole. A forest has trees, rivers and animals, each of which plays a specific role within that ecosystem.

Similarly, in a training ecosystem, each component plays a different role and relies on the others to function effectively. Like an ecosystem in nature, a training ecosystem adapts, evolves and thrives based on the content, platforms and people who contribute to it. And, just like a jungle isn’t only trees, you need all of these components to create an ecosystem that is set up for employee success.

4 Elements of a Training Ecosystem

Each component in your training ecosystem plays a different role. Let’s take a look at each one:

1. Content

Your content is the information employees need to learn to perform their roles more effectively. It can include:

    • Mandatory or legally required certification or training.
    • Policies and procedures.
    • Emergency response and business continuity plans.
    • Job-specific guidance.

You can have content that your entire organization needs to learn and content that’s specific to teams or individuals. You can also develop it internally or externally, depending on your resources and needs. Regardless of where it comes from, though, you’ll want to vet and update your content regularly to ensure it reflects what your organization needs its employees to understand.

2. Platforms and Channels

Another component of your training ecosystem is the platforms you use to deliver the content to learners. There are multiple types of learning platforms; the important thing is that your platform or platforms meet the needs of all of your learners.

Learning technology is always evolving and, in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, most corporate training has moved online. Here are a few great channels and platforms that you can use to stay current and interactive:

3. Learners and Instructors

The learners in a training ecosystem are the people who consume content using the platform or platforms. Understanding this group is critical to selecting the content and platforms that will lead to retention and application.

The instructors in a training ecosystem are the people responsible for assisting with the transmission of information to learners. In the past, they operated in a classroom setting. Now, instructors might be:

    • Whoever is responsible for developing the content, whether they are internal or external to the organization.
    • Educational coordinators who address questions about training content.
    • The learner themselves; many online courses are self-guided.

4. Culture

Finally, your company’s educational culture is also part of your training ecosystem. Your culture is not just the sum total of all components in an ecosystem; it’s also the values and mission of your organization. Your culture will guide the type of training your learners will participate in. For example, let’s say one of your company’s primary values is taking an ethical approach to work. It would make sense, then, to develop an ethics training course for everyone in your organization to complete.

Think of your company’s culture — both its overarching values and your educational goals— as the guiding force for the direction in which your training ecosystem moves. Your training content should reflect your overall brand by emphasizing the different elements of your culture.

What Makes a Strong Training Ecosystem?

The first thing to remember about building a strong training ecosystem is that each piece is interconnected. No single aspect of an ecosystem operates in a vacuum; each one relies on all other components to be successful. When you’re defining and developing each part of your training ecosystem, consider all parts. When you’re developing content, consider who the audience is, who will develop the content and whether they’re qualified to do so, which platform you’ll use to distribute the content, and how the content supports your overall organizational mission and goals. Training should respect the audience and be convenient for them to access.

Cultivating a strong training ecosystem involves thinking strategically, planning each component in concert with the others. It also involves making changes when necessary. As new technologies and online learning systems come to market, you may find yourself needing to adopt new strategies. Listening to learners and evaluating learning is also critical to a healthy training ecosystem. Capturing and retaining information is the difference between successful and unsuccessful training.

Your training ecosystem has multiple parts that require attention and forethought to operate effectively. If you’re thinking of elevating or improving any aspect of your training system, you may want to consider partnering with a knowledge provider to access the best tools for the job.