Fail Fast, Fail Forward with Challenge-Based Learning

November 8, 2021 | Activate Learning | 3 min read

Skillsoft and Skillable have partnered to create Cloud Challenge Labs


From the entry level to upper management, nearly every team member at any given organization could regale you with stories of professional skills or lessons they learned only after first getting something very, very wrong.

The truth is that most of us learn best by doing, and the lessons that stick the best are often ones we learn the hard way, by trial and error. For organizations hoping to train their teams, this creates something of a double bind.

We know that traditional, rote learning environments (listen to a lecture, take a test, the end) aren’t how most people effectively absorb information. But on the flip side, most organizations aren’t built for the possibility of trial and error, and the expensive mistakes that might come in the process.

Students, as well as their training providers, need to validate skills quickly, simply, and effectively. They also need to be able to learn without putting their work and the larger organization at risk. With this in mind, Skillsoft and Skillable (formerly Learn on Demand Systems) have partnered to deliver Challenge Labs, which help learners fail fast and fail forward, building durable cloud skills in a safe environment.

Challenge Labs are innovative online, scored labs that give learners extensive hands-on practice opportunities in a particular topic area. Ideal for cloud technologies, they provide skills development and assessments across multiple platforms and technologies. With Challenge Labs, organizations can reduce costs of consultants or new hires by upskilling employees through role-based paths and providing teams with opportunities to build real-world experience in a controlled environment, therefore reducing the risk of potential mistakes in a live cloud environment.

Below are just a few of the benefits provided by Challenge Labs’ research-backed learning design:

  • Unpack Cloud Complexity: Hone in on specific tasks and instances that YOU are going to be responsible for and advance through the Guided, Advanced, and Expert levels as you master skills.
  • Scenario-based Challenges: The training is where you learn it, Challenge Labs are where you prove it. These are not prescriptive - they are actionable and goal-oriented. Learners are provided a realistic scenario and must solve it on their own.
  • Immediate Skills Validation: With immediate feedback based on your work, Challenge Labs provide a two–way dialogue to break down cloud complexities. Learners can truly validate their skills, while beginner labs provide proactive hints in case you get stuck.

Challenge-based learning offers organizations an exciting new way forward. It creates opportunities for smarter learning, new and creative use of learning technologies, and perhaps most importantly, it produces consistent, proven results for your team members as well as your organization.

What makes Challenge Labs so different?

At most organizations, learning follows the same, typical structure: An instructor (or self-paced program) introduces a topic and presents key concepts; a practice exercise is given, with little to no feedback; and learners are given a perfunctory knowledge assessment.

Unfortunately, too many well-intentioned learning programs built on this “present, practice, test” model simply don’t produce the results required by modern businesses and learners. They focus on knowing, not doing, and can leave learners unprepared for real-time on-the-job challenges.

To build durable cloud skills that truly stick, learners need experience in real-world scenarios, which can sometimes be messy. Clean examples in prescriptive, curriculum-focused labs can provide conceptual understanding, but not true readiness for issues team members may face in the role.

With Challenge Labs, users will learn to understand the cloud conversation with scenario-based learning for cloud roles, various experience levels, and scenarios like multi-cloud and hybrid. It becomes an experience you can put to work on the job. In turn, this allows tech teams to reduce risk and gain greater ROI on training.