Managing a Learning Ecosystem: Creating Immersive Learning Environments

In a recent Brandon Hall Group event, over 66% of the attendees said that their company has used more than one vendor for learning technology platforms, and 18% of those surveyed had more than three vendors.[1] There are multiple reasons why organizations use more than one learning technology solution provider, from the need to manage legacy systems to requirements for unique learning tools available in different systems. The ultimate goal with either a single or several learning solutions is to provide a complete learning experience for the end-user – one that creates the best outcomes.

Creating a complete learning experience requires that learning organizations think beyond their LMS, beyond simply blending eLearning and classroom content, beyond the benefits of just- in-time training. Research studies have shown that blended learning increases performance outcomes and effectiveness ratings anywhere between 13 to 30%. It has also been shown to increase learner engagement and learning scores, over single mode delivery options[2]. The debate for blended, multi-modal delivery has been put to bed. Today, organizations need to think about the entire Learning Ecosystem – figuring out how to create an immersive learning environment.

What is a Learning Ecosystem?

An ecosystem, as defined by Britannica Encyclopedia, is a complexity of living and non-living organisms, their physical environment, and all their interrelationships in a particular unit of space. A learning ecosystem includes:

  • Living elements: learners, instructional designers, coaches, mentors, subject matter experts.
  • Non-living elements: learning technology, competencies, content, access points, social tools.
  • Supporting relationships:  goals, skills gaps, feedback, processes, outcomes.

Organizations that look at the inter-relationship between all of the elements of a learning ecosystem can created a sustainable learning environment that provides the greatest impact for learners and their organization.

Managing Complexity

It can seem overwhelming , this thought of managing a whole learning ecosystem, especially when over 22% of organizations in a recent Brandon Hall Group Survey said that one of their top two learning priorities for 2011 was to simply transition instructor-led training to some form of technology-based delivery[3]. Our research has found that time may not be on the side of the learning function that is taking their time to address these challenges. Today’s employees have less time to learn, and are expected to learn more often than previous workforces. In the same survey mentioned above, over 56% of organizations expected employees to connect with learning resources on a weekly or daily basis to effectively perform their jobs.

Managing complexity simply comes down to breaking the complex model into small achievable steps that will get you from where you are today to where you need to be tomorrow.


[1] A Unified Approach to Learning, 7.17.12, N = 95

[2] Brandon Hall Group, The Real Story: Blended Learning, 2010

[3] Brandon Hall Group, RCL Survey, March 2012 N=601

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