This post originally appeared on CIO.com
IT is a highly competitive and fast-changing industry that demands continuous learning to retain and upskill top talent while simultaneously delivering business value. Whether it is IT operations, cloud services, data analytics, software development or DevOps, eLearning has proven to be an effective and efficient way for IT professionals, especially administrators and developers, to regularly enhance their skills.
How do you want to learn today?
eLearning content exists in multiple modalities, giving IT learners the flexibility to study in the manner that suits them best. For example, a course enables a learner to complete lessons at their own pace with regular exercises and assessments to test their knowledge. Videos offer learners the opportunity to watch bite-size lessons and visual demonstrations of course content. For those who learn best by reading and listening, you can select from thousands of IT-centric digital books and audiobooks, which are increasingly an essential part of the learning experience. Research shows that 85% of IT learners use books for skill development.
Just as important as the content is the method of delivering the content to the learner. Fortunately, both new Learner Experience Platforms (LEP) and modern Learning Management Systems (LMS) enable the seamless delivery, tracking and reporting of IT training.
How the LEP and the LMS meet the needs of IT training
The Learner Experience Platform is relatively new to the market; it is designed for organizations that need to deliver content, report on the usage of that content, award certificates and run some value analysis. The LEP offers staying power, and I believe it will be a mainstay of IT learning.
The main features of a Learner Experience Platform are:
- A clean and modern user experience design – LEPs provide a “consumer-like” experience. You may have heard the phrase: “employees don’t leave their consumer tendencies at the door when they come to work.” This means that they expect to have Netflix and Amazon-like experiences when they are working; this applies to training too. Some LEPs use the consumer concept of channels or learning paths to organize content for easy discovery. The LEPs learn about the learner and groups of learners to provide tailored training recommendations just like Netflix recommends movies and TV shows to its subscribers.
- Powerful and elegant federated search – LEPs can support large volumes of multi-modal content, including content from both the web and multiple vendors. A single search is “federated” across all the content to provide a single search result that is easy to use.
- Support for multiple types of learning assets – Many LEPs support just about any kind of training content, including courses, books, videos, assessments, tests, practice environments, mentors, social platforms, web content, etc. This is important because brain science research has demonstrated that people like to learn in different ways.
- Ability to integrate learning at the point of need – When IT staff have a problem or need an answer to a question, they shouldn’t have to leave where they are, navigate to a learning source, and then search for the answer. Ideally, they will have easy access to learning in the flow of their work. Many modern LEPs allow deep-linking to training resources. This makes it easy to provide links to training on SharePoint sites, intranets, discussion groups, etc. Some LEPs take this one step further with a browser plugin that enables learning in the flow of work. If an IT staff member is working in Stack Overflow, GitHub, or using a web-based development environment, they can highlight a word, phrase, a piece of code, etc. and a search box pops up. Simply clicking on the box will provide a list of training resources right in the browser. The team member can watch a short video right in their browser or click a link to open the learning content directly in the LEP.
Modern Learning Management Systems offer many of the same features as LEPs. They also provide the ability to design a curriculum, assign it to multiple groups, manage diverse credits and report on usage. LMSs can provide added value when they integrate with other aspects of human capital management, including talent acquisition, talent management and workforce management.
This synchronization offers many benefits to IT organizations, such as:
- Increasing time to productivity by linking an employee’s background with learning
- Facilitating internal mobility by connecting learning-driven development plans with role changes, which has the added benefit of higher retention rates
- Increasing an organization’s capability index in a particular area, such as cybersecurity, big data or agile
- Matching the talent pool with strategic new focus areas or projects
- Immersing new hires into organizational policies and culture with recommended courses, content, resources and key onboarding information
Organizations today face a behemoth task as they strive to reskill and upskill their workforces continuously. It’s a task even more challenging in the world of IT which by its very nature is evolving faster than other business sectors. To help IT organizations adapt to such rapid transformation, both the LEP and LMS play an essential role. It is up to management therefore to take the necessary steps to ensure their staff has access to both the proper content and delivery platform.
Jim Zimmermann is the Director for Solution Practice, IT & Digital Skills at Skillsoft.