Personalized learning paths can increase employee engagement in learning, improve comprehension and retention of concepts and help employees identify areas of interest and chart their career paths. However, manually creating and maintaining those paths is overly burdensome — making the selection of a learning management system (LMS) with the associated tools that can fully support those goals a critical part of any learning strategy.

Choosing the right LMS is important for any organization and requires careful consideration of the features and the amount of automation you require. Using personalized learning paths in your organization requires that the LMS you select has features that support:

    • Planning for relevant learning paths and content to be available to the right people at the right time, as defined by both the company and the individual.
    • Delivering courses and content tailored to the individual, driving knowledge retention and continuous learning.
    • Evaluating the knowledge and skills acquisition of the individual, as well as the effectiveness of the course.
    • Accessing and reporting on learner and program data.

Planning Learning Paths

Creating individual learning paths requires integrating company-driven expectations with the employee’s desired learning activities to keep the content relevant and effective. Achieving that integration relies on an LMS that can:

    • Connect to an human resources (HR) system that contains clear and complete employee records on factors such as: relevant personal information, their role, geographic location, qualifications and any other data that may drive learning needs.
    • Capture information directly or leverage it from another system that defines the competencies, knowledge, skills and expected proficiency level by role and assignment.
    • Manage workflows to ensure company-defined profiles and learning paths are appropriately designed, assigned and monitored.
    • Group, by metadata or other tagging, items by job families, role progressions, mastery level, skill grouping or other relevant categories that will allow for user-friendly searching and enrollment.
    • Build in rules, or establish effective artificial intelligence that adds, removes or promotes content based on a learner’s history and preferences.
    • Automate as much administration of learning pathways as possible, including the items mentioned above, so that the learning paths and supporting data (e.g., learners, roles, titles) remain up-to-date and integrated, minimizing the burden on learning administrators.

Delivering Targeted Courses and Content

Once the general path and core courses are set up for a learner, you still want learners to have options and some control over their learning journey within the constraints you’ve provided. Allowing learners to select and drive their own training experience can help ensure that learning is paced at the speed they need, minimize the support time required from leaders and administrators and enable learners to adopt a continuous learning culture.

The LMS should be able to:

    • Create and account for equivalencies that allow learners to select the right learning experience for them. Some learners prefer to listen to a podcast or take an eLearning course, while others prefer a webinar or face-to-face interaction. The LMS should support all these training interventions and their supporting devices as options.
      • Providing, tracking and managing multiple iterations of the same course to support learner preferences is key.
      • Full learner control may also require selecting and integrating a learning experience platform (LXP) to help connect learners with broader learning sources and opportunities.
      • If your content or programs can leverage collaborative or social learning interventions, like chats, discussion boards, virtual whiteboards or conferencing tools, you may also need to look for an LMS that directly supports or integrates those tools.
    • Fine-tune content to allow learners to find training relative to their role and current mastery level. This may mean configuring the LMS to enable or drive learners to pre-test as well as managing a system of prerequisites so that only learners who have completed specific modules with a given level of proficiency can access other content.
    • Support learners in navigating the LMS. While the technical functionality of the LMS is critical for administrators, learning is only successful if the learners themselves engage. It is also critical to present a user experience and interface so learners can intuitively search, see their assignments, compare options and manage their enrollments.


Individual learning paths also rely on the ability of the LMS to accurately assess and reflect feedback about the courses to inform the next step for individuals and facilitate the learner’s selection of appropriate learning experiences. Features in the LMS that support this functionality include:

    • Defined thresholds for acceptable completion to align course completion with confirmation that the required knowledge and skills have been acquired.
    • Aggregation of knowledge and skill outcomes across courses to show progress towards mastery of a given competency for individuals or groups.
    • Reflection of feedback or rating of a specific course or program to indicate how useful learners found a specific course or program and to inform the selection of additional courses that best fit their needs.


While most LMSs have built-in reports, those may not be adequate to allow you to analyze and report the complete picture. Reporting features that will help you track, manage and improve the use of individualized learning paths include:

    • Tracking and reporting at the individual level, including progress through individual courses and programs, time spent in training, time since the most recent training intervention and skills acquisition or job readiness.
    • Course-level information, including course enrollment and completion data, average user duration and performance outcome data.
    • Advanced filtering and analytics (e.g., trends and interactions) based on intervention type, roles and geographic location.
    • Engagement with the HR system, including the ability to filter based on role, function, assignment and geographic location.

Traditionally, an LMS serves as a tool to manage learning from the top down, defining formal courses and programs, supporting scheduling and registration and managing compliance. Not all LMSs provide the same level of customization as LXPs, but with the right features, an LMS can support personalized learning paths, resulting in a stronger learning culture, increased workforce proficiency and ownership of professional development and career progression opportunities. Gathering your internal stakeholders, end users and business partners to define the ideal end-state of learning, including how personalized learning paths may work for you, will set you down the path of choosing the optimal LMS for you and your organization.