How We Use Learning Paths To Supercharge Our L&D Strategy

How We Use Learning Paths To Supercharge Our L&D Strategy

Drinking Our Own Champagne

Last year, I started a “Drinking Our Own Champagne” series to share how we at Halogen are using our own solutions. Yes, that’s right … we’re right in the HR trenches with you. We don’t just talk about progressive talent management; we live and breathe it. Some initiatives are wildly successful right from the start, while others provide us with valuable insight and learning to move forward with. As my colleague Hawley likes to say, we’re a “Living Lab”!

To catch up on this series, you can start with these posts below or just jump right in to this one.

Today, I want to talk “learning paths.” It’s a topic that we get asked about a lot, and it’s also something that we’ve rolled-out here at Halogen. So, to help me with this discussion, I’ve invited my colleague Phil Desrochers.

Phil

Phil is an experienced Learning and Development Consultant and a key member of Halogen’s Learning Centre of Excellence, a strong human resources professional with an M.A. focused on Organizational Development & Leadership, Phil specializes in things like career development, project management, coaching and learning management.

What is a learning path and why did you feel we should create them at Halogen?

When an organization purchases learning content, it is often presented haphazardly and can be difficult to navigate. If you want to learn about graphic design, would you take a course in Adobe software, design principles, or typography? The learning path is a “chunked” set of learning materials that, together and in a particular order, help the learner gain a skill or improve on a particular competency.

Chunking content is one of the most misunderstood and important steps in making learning consumable, timely and relevant for talent within an organization. At its core, chunking content is all about helping users (employees) navigate your Learning Management System in a way that makes things orderly and trackable.

If an organization is looking to develop learning paths, where would be a good place to start?

We have certain core competencies identified here at Halogen that are at the foundation of what we do, so naturally they made a great starting point for developing learning paths. Identifying your organization’s core competencies is a great place to start, because it will help direct how you prioritize your “chunking.”

Can you explain the process of developing a learning path?

Learning paths start with the needs of the learner. Here are the steps to follow to ensure that your learning paths are relevant and timely for learners.

  1. Conduct a learning needs analysis with each leader in your company. Let the leaders in your organization know you’ll be reaching out in advance, giving them more time to gather thoughts about how their employees could improve and what skill gaps exist on their teams. These conversations with managers require some trust, so try and have at least some rapport with everyone you talk to. Consultants can sometimes have a tendency to want to jump right in and starting “fixing things.” Naturally, this can put a leader on the defensive. Don’t do this. Start by building trust..
  2. Once the learning needs and gaps have been identified, it’s time to start curating content. This is nothing more than doing the work of looking for the best PDFs, videos, training documents or other learning materials that you will populate into the learning path. An example of a learning path title would be “Positive Communication” and inside the path you include training that encourages the types of behaviors that lead to being a more positive communicator. Make sure to use content you may already have in your learning management system before you go searching the internet or paying for content.
  3. Promote new learning path. Use some widespread communication medium like a company newsletter or offer a physical and online workshop to all leaders to announce the new learning path. Make the promotion of a new path an event so that people remember to enroll in it when they need help. This will ensure the path is timely and relevant when learner needs it most.

How long would you estimate it took you to develop each learning path?

It’s a fairly time-consuming process. It took me between five and seven hours to create each of our learning paths, and we have upwards of 25 learning paths now, so it’s been a significant investment on the part of Halogen. But it’s brought huge returns.

What kind of return have you seen with these learning paths? And how do you measure that?

Our learning paths on leadership, change management and competencies have contributed to around a 125% increase in the creation of talent development plans, meaning they have encouraged our users to leverage our learning and development offerings, which will help them succeed at work.

What are your next steps in building on the success you’ve had with learning paths?

Our next step is to look at the quality of development plans, not just the quantity as we have done up to date. The way we determine quality is by pulling sample plans and looking for relevance to our core competencies and a level of “juice”. Juice is our word for passion. A development plan must include a level of personal passion to ensure accountability and follow through (or to be what we call a “juicy” development plan). Without a strong “why” or “passion” for enrolling, learning does not stick or get done. After we evaluate development plan quality, we’ll be tracking completion rates and following up on the quality of these plans.

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