Today, we seem to find ourselves in a world that offers unprecedented educational opportunities at no cost and by simply swiping our thumb over a smartphone screen. Information is everywhere, and most of the time, we don’t even have to make the effort to search for it — it finds us.

Online engines are mindful of our every move and every inquiry and flood us with a multitude of sites, apps and videos. Even though this volume of content can be overwhelming at times, and it’s occasionally difficult to sift out the irrelevant or incorrect content, the reality is that we are well (and quickly) informed about any topic that matters to us.

Still, current organizational conditions show that there is a shortage of skills. Even though human potential is recognized as the motor that will drive the economy forward, it’s difficult to develop it to its full capacity. It’s clear that leveraging technology in the service of better learning solutions is not only necessary but also urgent.

Organizations have been adopting e-learning, on-demand learning and microlearning for a while now. What corporate L&D needs to do now is recognize and incorporate informal learning into a connected and intuitive ecosystem.

People are constantly connected in their daily lives by phones, tablets and apps. They own smart houses that can heat themselves and smart refrigerators that announce shortages of groceries in time to restock. However, when the same people try to harness the potential of technology at work and streamline their activities in a similar manner, they find that not all types of content are accessible and that platforms can’t really connect, compare and use data in order to make work and learning easier and less time-consuming.

Being able to close the gap between how people behave in their personal lives and how they behave at work will enable businesses to develop a learning culture that is more aligned to people’s expectations. The answer is improving the learning ecosystem — the ensemble of people, culture, technology and strategies that make learning, both formal and informal, happen in an organization. Just as in any ecosystem, these elements are interconnected in a complex network.

Intentionally building a learning ecosystem can seem daunting. There are a lot of technical issues to tackle, and the whole endeavor may require a large budget. There are, however, a few hacks than can make it easier:

1. Make Sure Every Learning Tool Is Interoperable

People who own vacuums that communicate with their phones also expect to be able to have data from one app analyzed and interpreted by another. If they conduct a search on one platform, having another suggest relevant reads or videos feels natural and efficient. Similarly, being able to manage with data in multiple systems saves time and creates a sense of flow with minimum interruptions. Additionally, since it is a more intuitive approach, learners are more inclined to learn on their own.

2. Set up a Good LRS

Data doesn’t just come out of nowhere, nor can it be interpreted and used unless it is gathered in the right place. Learning record stores (LRSs) can help training organizations know when a learner has completed course and measure performance and training effectiveness. An LRS is more than a database; it has to meet certain requirements and function in a manner that fully supports a coherent learning experience using xAPI.

3. Measure Everything

Results are important. In order to prove that training was successful (or not) and determine the extent to which an intervention had a positive impact on organizational objectives, you need numbers. The process of evaluation involves setting learning objectives based on business goals, determining milestones, and knowing exactly what you’ll be measuring and when and how you’ll do so. Determine in advance what the learning ecosystem has to bring to the table in order to be valuable. Then, continuously check that it’s up to the job.

4. Establish an SSO

Remembering multiple credentials is a hassle. Investing in a single sign-on (SSO) for the enterprise will allow people to log in one time with one user ID and password and have access to all the apps, websites and databases they need. Having an SSO will also ensure lower IT costs and improved usability and employee satisfaction. More importantly, it will reduce your cybersecurity risk, since passwords are managed internally.

5. Plan for the Long Run

Simply setting up an organizational learning ecosystem is not enough to guarantee its success. Companies need a long-term plan for implementation, maintenance and improvements. For example, building an L&D team without upgrading training tools will disrupt the ecosystem. The best course of action is to continually support and improve upon the initial project in order to make it viable and worth everybody’s while.

Wrapping up

Natural ecosystems form over time and transform continually. Organizations that want to be successful in the 21st century have to keep up with the times and emphasize human development.