Learning & Development

Six Pillars of Learning

A learning experience platform can maximize learning engagement to prepare organizations for the future of work.

By Lars Hyland

The last year has proved challenging for employers worldwide. Uncertainty about what the future of work means for organizations and their employees has made employee engagement more important -and in many cases, more difficult -than ever before. This alongside rapidly evolving technology and the shift to remote working confronts HR teams with a real dilemma: How can organizations keep employees engaged from afar during turbulent times?

Engaged workforces are more motivated and productive, but when it comes to day-to-day business decisions, many organizations prioritize actions that benefit the bottom line over seemingly intangible investments like learning programs for employees. However, armed with the six pillars of learner engagement and a learning experience platform (LXP), organizations have the power to engage employees regardless of their role, location, and how they work.

So, what do learner engagement programs look like, and how can organizations implement them successfully?

Discovering Relevant Content

The first pillar of learner engagement is discovery. Empowering employees to find learning content relevant to them and their roles is essential to maintaining learning in the flow of work. This goes beyond the learning that is assigned to them on the organization’s learning management system (LMS), and taps into their interests through organic content discovery.

Having the right algorithm in place is crucial to help surface relevant, useful, and interesting content. This can take into account the learner’s role, their previous engagement patterns, and the types of content people like them have engaged with and found useful. With the right integrations in place, the algorithm can also draw from formal learning data to recommend resources similar to their current learning offerings

Resource Curation

The second pillar of learner engagement is curation. This leverages the expertise and specific interests of employees along with the power of peer recommendations. For instance, a learner can curate their own “playlist” of useful resources and courses, either for their own easy access or to share with their coworkers.

Coworkers can then access the specially curated playlist to benefit from their colleague’s work. This reduces the duplication of effort, allowing learners to access the same resources as their trusted colleagues. For content curators, the act of creating a learning playlist can help consolidate their knowledge of a subject and think critically about what has genuinely helped them learn.

Recognizing Contributions

The third pillar is recognition. This is all about recognizing the efforts of internal experts and contributors who create their own resources, videos, or how-tos to help their colleagues improve their skills.

If an organization has an LXP, it can do this by inviting employees to create playlists, share resources, or add posts with their own tips. HR leaders can then recognize the employee’s status as an expert with a special badge or with a special status on the platform. Alternatively, they can gamify the engagement experience by awarding points for contributing useful resources and posting the scores to a leaderboard to encourage friendly competition between colleagues.

Collaborating with Others

The transition from working in a centralized workplace to working remotely can make it tricky to collaborate. That’s why the fourth pillar, collaboration, focuses on how employers can help their people work with others more efficiently.

In the absence of a physical meeting room, organizations can replicate this experience online with a digital collaborative workspace where teammates can collaborate on projects, share ideas and challenges, and keep everything in one place for easy access. Digital workspaces can support specific projects, initiatives, or teams for a more organized approach to collaboration.

Enabling Integrations

The fifth pillar is integration -which, in this case, is all about the importance of integrating the LXP with other systems. For instance, HR leaders can integrate their LXP with the LMS for a powerful combination of informal and formal learning, or with the performance management system to tie learning engagement into employees’ performance goals.

For instance, a learner should be able to discover the organization’s formal e-learning courses within the LXP as they are recommended by their colleagues. Learners should also be able to pull courses from the LMS into their “playlist,” which they then share with their teammates. Their manager can then see that they are sharing valuable resources and can record their positive engagement in the performance management system.

Reporting on Learner Engagement

The final pillar of learner engagement is reporting. Engagement with informal learning is notoriously difficult to measure, but with an LXP, it is possible to understand who is engaged, to what extent, who is sharing valuable content, what that content looks like, and what isn’t working so well.

This has several benefits. Firstly, it helps managers understand which of their team members are more or less engaged, giving them insight to take action as needed. It also benefits the learning team, who can understand what type of content is resonating. The HR team can understand how engaged employees are and come up with ways to boost engagement further. Employees themselves will also benefit from more resources that work for them, which can take place “behind the scenes” and with minimal intervention from management.

How to Support the Six Pillars of Learner Engagement

The number one most effective way to support the six pillars of learner engagement is with a flexible LXP.

In an LXP, learners will be able to discover relevant content, curate it into useful “playlists” for themselves and their colleagues, and have their contributions recognized to boost motivation.

Learners will also be able to collaborate with others on a single centralized system that integrates with other systems for a smoother user experience for learners and managers alike. Then, everyone will benefit from data-driven reporting on learner engagement, giving the HR and learning teams a better understanding of valuable content and engagement across the organization.

These six pillars of learner engagement will help HR leaders support their learners no matter where they are, what they do, or how they prefer to learn. This is the secret to strengthening organizations for the future of work, whatever that may look like.


Lars Hyland is chief learning officer at Totara.

Tags: Employee Engagement, June 2021, Learning

Recent Articles