Podcast | How To Build A Learning Ecosystem

June 1, 2023
June 26, 2023

A message to all L&D teams: People are learning with or without us… but that doesn’t mean we’re out of a job.

In fact, we’ve got a more important role than ever:

🔥 The builder of the learning ecosystem 🔥

Bringing all the ways and places people already learn together, from podcasts to TikTok videos, webinars to articles, and much more.

Katja Schipperheijn, author of Learning Ecosystems and Founder of Habit Of Improvement joined Nelson and Gary to discuss how we build a learning ecosystem and why it’s never been more important.

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Running order:

0:00 Introduction to Katja and defining an ecosystem
4:03 Building an ecosystem that evolves over time
10:04 Curation, informal learning and L&D’s role
16:54 Why now?
23:13 Ecosystem logistics/structure
29:45 The tech stack and tools
34:20 The Layers Of Your Learning Ecosystem
37:37 Using all your data and tools together
44:32 Lessons from working with 15,000 Children
48:15 Auditing your current ecosystem
54:46 Katja’s book – Learning Ecosystems

5 lessons on building a learning ecosystem

1. “Building a learning ecosystem is not easy…”

“Because the elements are already in place. So it’s more about how you can grow or better use the ecosystem that’s already there. To connect human to human, interest to interest and for people to share knowledge and make sure they learn when they need to learn and apply it.

“So, building an ecosystem is like an architect of nature. You have to understand the elements in order to nurture them so that they grow themselves.” – Katja Schipperheijn

We’re not trying to build a learning ecosystem from scratch, we’re trying to cultivate what already exists and break down barriers.

2. “It’s not about building the ecosystem but taking the friction out of it so we can get more value.”

The challenge is more that there’s a lot of friction in that process. It could be something as simple as how do I find relevant knowledge in the ecosystem or synthesising this into something that’s meaningful to me in this moment?

“All of that process has a lot of friction baked into it right now, especially if you’re not working on your learning ecosystem.” – Nelson Sivalingam.

Katja added to this explaining that, alongside this friction, we’ll also encounter the problem of waste.

“Waste can be time, but it can also be not using all the knowledge that’s already available in the ecosystem. I see this with more senior employees. They have a lot of knowledge, but they don’t share it… and this is all waste if we can’t use this together.” – Katja Schipperheijn

3. L&D pros should be learnscapers (the landscapers of a learning garden)

“In my book, I refer to learning ecosystems as Learnscapes – from the idea of landscapes and gardens. And I call these new L&D professionals Learnscapers.

“They create the environment and culture, but they’re learning leaders themselves. They tap into knowledge, break down the silos of the organisation, bring together the people from the business…

“I don’t want to call them the glue because glue is fixed, but they’re creating this web for a learning organisation.” – Katja Schipperheijn

4. Learning ecosystems should incorporate tools people already use and respond to change

Think back to the peak of the COVID lockdowns. Delivery numbers were increasing everyday but the rules for drivers were constantly changing. They essentially needed to re-learn the processes at regular intervals.

“So, the problem was, how can we re-teach them every day? And the opportunity was that we can connect with them and engage them in new strategies.

“I saw some people use microlearning platforms or LXPs with a function to communicate directly to groups… They knew those drivers couldn’t use their phone while driving, so they sent those updates at the end of each day. What they found afterwards is that they could engage those drivers that they normally didn’t have a connection with.” – Katja Schipperheijn

5. There are 3 layers to your learning ecosystem

The learning layer: Where you’re integrating your sources of knowledge, skills, and experts – inside and outside the ecosystem –  that hold valuable knowledge employees might need.

The Data Layer: Integrating and connecting the data sources that personalise and contextualise learning for your organisation.

The Discovery Layer: Delivering and making learning discoverable by embedding it in the flow of work. Rather than dragging the employee to the LMS, we take it to tools people already use.