Deep Thoughts

How To Build a Modern Digital Learning Tech Ecosystem

Let me ask you this, do you think people are accessing your LMS or LXP to ask questions about their problems?

My reaction to the question above!

Well, newsflash they aren’t as it’s probably a horrid user experience.

However, there is a far easier alternative and one where most of your people are spending much of their time – your collaboration platform.

I’m guessing it’s probably either Microsoft Teams or Slack.

You see, these are the places where people are most commonly asking questions and looking for answers.

Before they even consider accessing your LMS or LXP, people will usually fire out a speculative call for help on these tools.

So, the question begs, why aren’t we doing more to connect people with what they need through these platforms?

I mean, if these platforms (along with emails) are the most popular avenues for people to seek answers, and thus knowledge.

Then surely as learning teams, we should be integrating tech which supports people to be connected with the potenital answers to their questions in these spaces.

I feel like a lot of teams in the people development world are missing out on a golden opportunity to connect people with the right stuff through collaboration platforms.

Today’s gateway to learning in the flow of work (or whatever buzzword is hot right now) is not your LMS or LXP. It’s your collaboration tools and email clients.

The places where we all spend large amounts of our time.

Let me unpack what I believe is a modern workplace learning architecture for today’s world.

If behaviour dictates that these platforms are where people spend most of their time, then we need to meet them where they are.

Not try to change their natural behaviour to forced automation of accessing a separate platform that they don’t wish to nor will most likely adopt.

I created the image below to visualise a potential ‘what good looks like’ model for a modern learning tech ecosystem today.

The most common point of entry to ask questions and seek support these days is through tools like Slack and MS Teams.

This is why I’m championing the use of integrations between current LMS/LXPs to these platforms.

Thus, allowing users to get answers within the space they ask the original question and not have to access a different tool to do this.

I’m oversimplifying this but with the available tech today, we can build an architecture like the one below which allows users to be connected with possible answers to their questions where they are most likely to seek them.

Not force them to access another tool to ask the same thing or even worse not bother to investigate any further and lose out on a learning moment.

Fish where the fish swim

Some wise person somewhere

Getting your technology to work together to connect people to content where they actually ask questions and look for solutions rather than where we want them to do that is essential for the future of performance enablement.

Now in the post-pandemic era (if this is it!), we have a new lens to look through the adoption of more accessible technology for learning.

The events of the pandemic forced a worldwide shift to remote and digital-first experiences.

Making the experience of accessing the know-how we all need in a simple way is a continuous priority for all organisations and even more so now that we mostly work in a hybrid model between the office and home.

With more digital connections, platforms like Teams and Slack will only keep growing with evolving communities of humans looking for connection and help.

So, for me, it makes sense that we use these channels to connect people with more of the content they want instead of trying to change behaviours and ask them to partake in a different experience which feels more complicated than it needs to be.

I’m not saying you need to dump your LMS or LXP, but you can change the way your experience flows.

Use your learning tech to support your ecosystem but don’t make it the focal point of access.

We’ve all seen so many workplaces fail in these battles.

If we meet people where they naturally hang out, then we’ll find greater engagement, and thus a better chance to support performance.

Think about it, instead of being told to visit your local LMS/LXP to search for content.

What if you could just ask a question in Slack or Teams and a helpful bot 🤖 came to connect you with a couple of potential answers?

In some cases, the bot may not even be needed as a human might organically answer the question for you.

The point is that we aren’t going to traditional learning tools to ask questions. We are asking questions and reaching out for help in the world of Slack, Teams and email.

Plus, Microsoft and Slack know this is happening now and are paying very close attention to building out their services for the L&D market.

As an example, Microsoft launched an initiative to help millions acquire the digital skills they need in today’s world and announced more investments into their free for all content available on Microsoft Learn

Another Microsoft-owned platform, LinkedIn, has even opened up free learning pathways for what they’ve determined as the 10 in-demand jobs for today’s economy.

  1. Become a Software Developer
  2. Become a Sales Representative
  3. Become a Project Manager
  4. Become an IT administrator (Prepare for CompTIA Network+ Certification)
  5. Become a Customer Service Specialist
  6. Become a Digital Marketing Specialist
  7. Become IT Support / Help Desk (Prepare for the CompTIA A+ Certification)
  8. Become a Data Analyst
  9. Become a Financial Analyst
  10. Become a Graphic Designer

And no, I’m not endorsing LinkedIn learning here folks (Sorry sales reps).

We’re seeing lots of investment being made and it’s clear that tools like Slack and MS Teams are now an essential part of the daily employee experience.

The people development industry can use these platforms for the adoption and connection of learning too.

If anything, it is a needed investment if we wish to keep up with the people who these teams exist to support.

How can you make better use of MS Teams and Slack to connect people with the right content

I’ve already written playbooks for learning teams on making the most of both platforms which you can explore below:

Making the most of Slack playbook

Making the most of Microsoft Teams playbook

Also, check out my making slack bot part of your team video to give you just a tip of the iceberg example of what you could do with collaboration tools.

Perhaps, it’s time to relook at what a value add and simple user experience for learning really means in the modern workplace.

And maybe, just maybe, we could even dare let ourselves consider how we could channel content, help and learning opportunities exclusively through these platforms.

Could this turn into a goodbye the trusted storage facility of an LMS and LXP? Oh, did I just say that out loud 😉

Before you go… 👋

If you like my writing and think “Hey, I’d like to hear more of what this guy has to say” then you’re in luck.

You can join me every Tuesday morning for more tools, templates and insights for the modern L&D pro in my weekly newsletter.

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