A coup has taken place and content is no longer king. Content has been usurped and the new king in town is experience.

In our connected, social and mobile world, experience is everything. The days of sending learners to access the sole source of truth pushed by L&D via the classroom, the learning management system or the authorized expert are over.

In its place, learners are seeking their own truth and creating a personal learning experience. As they do this, they are sourcing and sharing content and looking to the wisdom of peers rather than experts.

L&D professionals have not been sitting on the sidelines watching the revolution happen, they have helped storm the gates. Perhaps the best example is the rising popularity of the 70:20:10 model. If, 70 percent of learning is experiential than it is on us to step away from the content, take a broader view and give thought to what the experience will be and create plans for delivering it.


By contemplating the 70:20:10 model, it forces us to step away from a content focus and consider what can be done to enable social and collaborative learning. The rise of social sites has provided new opportunities for learning and has helped to fuel the popularity of 70:20:10. However, it is not an “if you build they will come” proposition and simply making a social learning site available is not likely to succeed.

It is necessary for L&D to define the terms of engagement, develop programs and train employees in the technology and best practices of collaboration to ensure this type of learning experience thrives. Here are a few tips:

  • Create a community management strategy and train others outside of L&D to manage social learning.
  • Recruit and build an extended network of employees willing to engage one-on-one with others in peer, near-peer, and reverse mentoring relationships.


People who look at smartphones all day expect the same great experience when they turn their attention to corporate content. That means great looking images and streaming video are not just an expectation, but a requirement. Ooyala, which provides video technology products and services, reported in its Global Video Index: Q3 2015 that “Mobile video views have increased 616% since Q3 2012, and now make up 45% of all video views globally…”

The days of progressive download of video the size of a postage stamp are over. It’s time for L&D groups to utilize existing enterprise online video platforms (OVP) or source and operate their own. Look for OVPs that can:

  • Ingest a variety of video formats and transcode processed files into formats that play on both iPhones and Androids.
  • Generate HTML5 video embed codes to be used in courseware and web pages across the enterprise.


Desire for a better experience is not news. The Brandon Hall Group 2016 study on learning technology finds that improving user experience is a critical need and over 44 percent of companies are considering replacing their LMS to get better at delivering it.

Technology is a major element in delivering a learning experience that lives up to expectations. However, if that experience is centered solely on the LMS, it is likely to fail. Experience follows learners and very few are inclined to begin their journey by visiting the learning management system. Instead, they are prone to search among a mixture of internal and external sites looking for their answer. The answer might lead to a job aid on a SharePoint site, an expert in marketing or a TED Talk.

To support this self-directed quest of learning, think of the architecture of systems or a “learning ecosystem.” This architecture underlies and enables everything else and the key principle here is interoperability via application programing interfaces (APIs) and web services. This allows systems to “talk” to one another, enabling a plug and play approach to building a learning experience.

In a world of mass disruption with technologies appearing and disappearing at a rapid rate, this confederation of systems also makes it easier to add or remove systems as conditions warrant.


Personalized learning is a bit misleading in that implies that the learning experience is left up to each individual. That is not the case at all. While the learning may be self-directed in terms of choice, timing and pace; the objective of personalized learning is to tailor the experience to the needs of the individual based upon factors such as role, tenure, location, business unit and developmental goals.

Personalization is accomplished in two different ways. The first is to construct pathways consisting of a variety of experiences (content, people, communities, activities and assignments) designed to achieve a learning outcome.

The second method of personalization is through adaptive learning in which the system is able to respond to the actions of the learner and provide timely and smart recommendations on content, people and activities that help the learner achieve the end goal. Adaptive learning has long been the Holy Grail for learning technologists, and recent advances in the collection of big-data on learning and analytics have made the quest within reach.

In both cases, personalization hinges on the ability of the technology to drive the learning experience.


Learning Pathway

A new manager logs into the learning portal and because employee profiles are loaded from the HR system, she sees her current learning path—Business Foundations.

The Business Foundations Path has two courses, Intro to Business Finance and Working with Budgets and Cash Flow. However, it also includes a link to a social learning site where she can search for a peer to connect with, communities to join and mentors to aid in her career development. In addition, videos, tools, a self-check and an action plan are included to help formulate next steps in career development. The manager has a choice on the order of selection to complete the pathway.

Adaptive Learning

With adaptive learning, the same content provides a different experience than the pathway, one specific to the needs of the learner. Our new manager begins with a self-check that contains both a knowledge assessment and a matrix of preferences. As a result, the learning adapts by offering a specific person to connect with for peer mentoring and two topics she needs to master before continuing her journey. With the topics completed, another self-check is presented to test her knowledge and make further recommendations including: Bob, a mentor/coach matched to her interests and needs at the moment, a link to a specific video how-to, and a budget worksheet that she can use in her conversations with Bob. When our manager has completed four sessions with Bob, she is ready to be a full-fledged member of the Budget Management Community and to complete another self-check that will guide her next steps in learning.


It is impossible to comprehend, or enable the modern learning experience without xAPI – the Experience API.

Also referred to as Tin Can, xAPI was created to support the learner experience described above. Developed under the aegis of ADL, who also brought us SCORM, xAPI was created to go where SCORM could not, following learners to record activity unconstrained by the limitations imposed by the LMS.

With xAPI, it is possible to go beyond registration and completion of content hosted on the LMS to understand what learners are doing as they are doing it, even if they are not connected to the internet. Macro and microlearning can be tracked and analyzed giving a view and rich analytics on a variety of things like mobile learning, team activities, mentoring sessions, on-the-job performance evaluations, video consumption, simulations and games.

xAPI Advantages

As an API, its structure supports the learning ecosystem by offering a standard that makes it simple to integrate with any Learning Record Store (LRS).

Its noun, verb, object format aligns with Bloom’s Taxonomy, tracking high-level cognitive activities such as judgment and creativity.

An internet of things (IoT) learning application, xAPI can enable adaptive learning via “bots” that listen to the LRS and present content based upon learner activity, or prevent employees from badging into a restricted area until they have completed necessary training.


Today, a new learning experience relies on robust and interesting content. However, it is no longer the sole consideration for learning. Today, we are challenged to wrap content in a unique and engaging experience; one that is supported by an architecture that includes formal and informal learning and also addresses the personal needs of individual learners. In an era of big data, it is imperative that we learn from learners and serve up content in a smart and efficient manner.

The stakes are high, learners are demanding and failure to deliver will risk more than losing the interest of the audience — the risk of losing loyalty is also at stake.