What is the Learning Ecosystem?

By February 13, 2020 No Comments

In today’s fast-paced and ever-changing L&D landscape, organizations need to create a learning ecosystem that engages high-capacity learners with opportunities for continuous growth. The learning ecosystem is the combination of tools and solutions used to deliver, manage, and track your digital training programs. It is an environment which permits learners to immerse themselves in multiple outlets for educational engagement.

Whether it’s for employees seeking certification or organizations selling trainings to customers, continual learning increases expertise, technical skills, and adaptability in individuals. An eLearning platform fulfills these goals with the added benefit of nearly unlimited flexibility in its educational approach.

The Learning Ecosystem: The Old Model vs. The New Model

Most Learning Management Systems (LMS) of the past have been proprietary, or closed-source, solutions. This type of software often prevents easy connectivity to other systems or plugins and limits customization options  History has shown that closed source LMS solutions often put up barriers, whether financial or technical, deterring clients from integrating with other useful tools on the market.  Subsequently, many educators that use closed-source systems struggle to create a learning platform that meets their needs and has the flexibility required to move into the future. The trend in the market is away from this model and toward an open, best-of-breed ecosystem approach.

The new model utilizes open-source learning management systems. Now educators can build best-of-breed learning programs that meet their goals and budgets. Open-source LMS solutions mix and mingle well with other third-party products and invite limitless possibilities for tailoring the platform. As new technologies emerge, it is easy to plug them into the learning ecosystem, allowing you to create a future-proof solution.

How the Digital Learning Ecosystem is Evolving

Just a few years ago, digital learning consisted of the learner watching dull videos and completing a comprehensive assessment afterwards. While videos are still a strong component of eLearning, tremendous strides have been made to create educational content that engages learners more effectively and provides a more interactive and accessible learning experience.

Technology that will move into the future of eLearning include the following:

  1. The current workforce values . They want to study on their train commute or finish a module at home after dinner. eLearning ecosystems are becoming increasingly adaptable to work on multiple devices. These platforms must be simple, intuitive, and user centric.
  2. Social connections. Learners today value networking. Their learning experience needs to be plugged into a community with which they can engage on a regular basis. This social learning engagement can increase engagement, knowledge retention, and offer incentives for excellence.
  3. The tried and true method of delivering information as one long, linear narrative is now passé. Learners prefer to learn in small, bite-sized chunks that provide digestible training on just-in-time topics that continue to build upon their skill set throughout the employee lifecycle. This allows the learner to develop at their own pace and make perceptive connections between different areas of content.
  4. Curated content. In the modern learning ecosystem, students will determine what they learn and in what order. They can curate their own content by choosing from the various modules, units, and courses on the digital platform. Furthermore, content can be curated for learners with the addition of a which can recommend content to users using artificial intelligence around behaviors learners have taken or their interests.
  5. Richer digital content. As mentioned above, videos still play a role, but there is much more that can and should be a part of digital learning. Gamified learning tools that employ characters, story, plot, and offer reward badges are a powerful tool. Peer competition with leaderboards or badges also adds a social component that keeps learners involved and motivated to win.
  6. Virtual reality. Flight simulators have existed for decades to help pilots train. Immersive technology is now expanding to all fields. With tools, doctors can practice surgeries, oil rig workers can learn emergency procedures, and fast food employees can cook virtual chicken.
  7. Wearable technologies. Smart watches and other are being discussed by tech firms as additional platforms for eLearning. Muse, a brain sensing headband, has the potential to pass information to teachers, like how learners are responding to lessons. This component of the ecosystem is cutting edge and is still on the design table.

Beyond the Tech

The digital tools do not diminish the value of instructor-led courses, but rather support all aspects of an organization’s chosen learning strategy whether it be a blended learning approach or learning is offered fully online. Learning and Development professionals often see themselves as directors and guides in the education process, as opposed to the receptacle of all knowledge and wisdom. With a dynamic approach, they can nurture a community that fosters engagement and appropriately challenges the students.

As all forms of learning require assessment, there also need to be plans for assessment in place. The difference with eLearning is that assessment is used for the learning process itself, not just as a measurement of what was learned. With risk-free assessments regularly placed throughout the modules or lessons, students are checked for understanding only. The digital ecosystem provides the opportunity to use many forms of assessment, such as multimedia presentations and student-produced content. From there, custom reports can be run that help determine the best learning methods that will ensure optimal learner retention.

It is easy to create personalized content in this type of learning ecosystem. Lessons for differentiation and accessibility can be tailored to a learner’s unique strengths and challenges. Whether students need accommodations for English as a second language, accessibility limitations, or remediation, digital learning offers the opportunity to build courses that are appropriate for all students.

 The Future of eLearning is Now

Be prepared for other innovations to enter the eLearning space. One of the most exciting technologies that is the current focus of research and development is artificial intelligence (AI). AI has already made its way into our environments with smartphone commands and chatbots. Its uses in improving education are just being explored as developers apply it to   and the formulation of learning predictions.

The digital learning ecosystem is here to stay. It has proven to be an effective means for delivering content and helping learners gain knowledge and skills. The ways in which it continues to evolve and grow indicate the future of learning. As education becomes more student-directed, digital learning must become more adaptive, malleable, and connected. So you’ll want to watch for companies to develop technologies that facilitate these goals.

Learn how eThink can help you put a dynamic and flexible learning ecosystem in place. Contact us to schedule an individual demonstration with one of our eLearning experts.

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