Learning Architecture

A learning architecture includes learning related structures, policies, processes, activities, tools, and technologies that an organization uses to enable strategy and deliver high differentiated performance through individual and organizational learning in the enterprise. The learning architecture should be based on:

  • key drivers important to each organization
  • an understanding of how people learn
  • processes that enhance corporate value
  • practices that leverage the strenghts of the organizations and exploit technologies

A useful architecture is one that makes planning easier and more effective and also can serve as a communication and coordination tool for people active in planning, designing, deploying, and using the learning systems and resources.

Source: SRI report

Next Generation Learning Architecture

When you think about the next generation learning architecture think: learning 1.0 + learning 2.0 + knowledge management!

Learning organization need to move from delivering formal programs to enabling informal learning, fostering collaboration, developing communities, leveraging subject-matter experts, capturing and re-using knowledge that exists in the organization, and making learning a part of every person’s daily life. They must create a learning environment where learning is linked to collaboration and knowledge shaing much more tightly.

In order for organizations to offer a more supportive learning environment , in addition to providing asynchronous courseware and online universities backed by enterprise-level learning management systems, they need to offer a variety of other technologies such collaboration tools, intelligent search, and structured knowledge repositories. These tools are more typically thought of as knowledge management technologies. Deploying and utilizing these types of tools are what differentiates an employee from a performer and helps them to develop expertise in their domain.

What is Learning 2.0?

Learning 2.0 is a term used to describe a new set of concepts for developing and delivering organizational learning. Learning 2.0 is an extension of Web 2.0 and shares many of the same philosophies and concepts. Learning is

  • powered horizentally and it’s collaborative and peer to peer
  • unstructured or rather structured over time
  • driven by individuals not organizations
  • Source: Saba

For employees this means learners take control of and manage their own learning; and for organizations it means providing support for employees to achieve their learning goals by:

  • setting their own learning goals
  • managing their learning — both content and process
  • communicating with others in the process of learning

Learning 2.0 is used to describe both physical and mindset changes that are occurring within the organizations. We will see a big shift in the way we work and learn.

Building Blocks of Learning Architecture 2.0

To achieve the most effective and efficient learning environment organizations need to recognize that the realities of learning in organizations have changed; and a) learning goes far beyond training, b) the make or buy decision requires rethinking, c) new tools and technologies transform learning, d) alternatives to courses and formal learning are inevitable. The excutives and managers active in learning must recognize these developments when creating plans to achieve the most effective learning environments for both individual and organizational learning. ( SRI Report )The following are the building blocks of our proposed “learning architecture”. These building blocks and their components are designed to make planning easier. They serve as the communication and coordination tools for people active in planning, designing, deploying, and using the learning systems.

Learning Technologies, Platforms, and Tools

The organizations need to choose the technologies, applications, and tools that meet their needs and goals. For example, at some companies like Cisco the use of advanced network infrastructure is central to their core business and the use of advanced network infrastructure is an important part of the learning architecture. For some other companies the underlying network, server, and communication infrastructure is not as important as the application services and technologies that they need. How the organizations decide to choose and implement the following depends on their learning and development goals.

Network Infrastructure:

    Content Delivery Networks
    Architecture for Voice, Media, and Integrated Data
    Intelligent Network Services

Application Platforms

    Business Operations Services
    Performance Management Services
    Learning Management Services
    Content Management Services
    Delivery Management Services

Delivery Platforms:

    Windows OS ( Vista / Xp / 2000 )
    Mac OS ( OS X )
    Mobil Device OS
    Btowsers ( Intenet Explorer, Fire Fox )

Technologies such as:

    Oracle DB, ASP, HTML, Video and Audio Streaming, Java, MS SQL, XML, Web Services

Web 2.0 and Social Networking Tools

Knowledge Management Specifications for Learning Systems

The Knowledge Management dimension of learning systems provides the ability of the learning platform to manage learning content in various formats, to re-use learning modules, and to support knowledge management processes; such as creating, codifying, classifying, storing, sharing, publishing, and distributing content or knowledge pieces. 

Document Creation
Learning systems can offer capabilities to help learners / users collect, organize, catalog, and store relevant data like professionals. Tasks such as collecting reference information, and allowing users to quickly locate, trace, assemble, present, and publish content can all be accomplished within a few clicks on one screen. They can provide learners with capabilities to:

    Structure and expand on their intellectual capital;
    Produce the versatile and portable content;
    Manage content catalogs and workflows;
    Produce annotated and structured content;
    Utilize a host of best-practices templates such as research proposals, user guides, reference and training multimedia, and policies and procedures;
    Set up well-architected personal or class websites.

Assembling Knowledge
Learning systems can promote structured concept development process so users can assemble content into usable content pieces. Transparent to the casual user, knowledge support methods can be incorporated into common tasks to simplify and guide learners in seeking, processing, and utilizing knowledge, for example:

    Managing personal information, collecting relevant infromation;
    Managing training / learning inventories or presentations;
    Researching and analyzing key topics, while tracking trends to historical data;
    Collaborating and brainstorming for innovation;

Sharing Intellectual Capital
Content may originate around information portals, but can quickly be disseminated across multiple information platforms and devices, such as mobile phones to HDTV sets. Data can thus be transformed into information that can be shared and acted upon to create valuable knowledge.

Learning systems can eliminate the need for advanced skills to publish content in a variety of formats, including web pages, CD and other portable media, or secured repositories.

Incremental Enhancements
By leveraging specialized tools for personal and group knowledge support, learning systems can add knowledge management capabilities so users have added functionality, including:

    Structured repositories, not just files and folders
    Meta-tags and Referencing (user-defined or standards-based)
    Glossaries for popular topics (share with Web Directories)
    Content classification

Source: Active Path Solutions

Virtual and Personal Learning Environments

Personal Learning Environments are systems that help learners take control of and manage their own learning. This includes providing support for learners to

  • set their own learning goals
  • manage their learning; managing both content and process
  • communicate with others in the process of learning

and thereby achieve learning goals.

A PLE may be composed of one or more subsystems: As such it may be a desktop application, or composed of one or more web-based services.

Important concepts in PLEs include the integration of both formal and informal learning episodes into a single experience, the use of social networks that can cross institutional boundaries, and the use of networking protocols (Peer-to-Peer, web services, syndication) to connect a range of resources and systems within a personally-managed space.

The following are some models of Virtual Learning Environments:

Source: Wikipedia

Learning 2.0 Networked Environment

Networked learning is a process of developing and maintaining connections with people and information, and communicating in such a way so as to support one another’s learning. The following is the core principles of a Learning 2.0 networked environment:

  • decentralized
  • distributed
  • disintermediated
  • content and structure are disaggragated
  • content and structure are disintegrated
  • democratic
  • dynamic
  • dissegragated

Source: Stephen Downes

Formal and Informal Learning

Formal Learning is mandated by organizations and it’s usually offered through training events such as scheduled courses, workshops, seminars, virtual classrooms, certification programs, etc. However, the evidence is overwhelming that Informal Learning is the biggest component of learning in the workplace. An important aspect of creating a learning culture is to offer a learning environment where individuals are accountable for their own learning needs. So the challenges are:

  • Can formal learning lay a foundation that will support the informal learning process?
  • Can we provide tools and systems (e.g. Subject Matter Expert Location Programs, Knowledge Repositories, etc. ) that enable the informal process to be more efficient and effective. Reduce the 15 hours a week to 10?
  • What can we learn from the informal process that may – or may not – inform a somewhat more formal approach?
  • How can we figure out when any learning – formal or informal – is not even needed? Where does ‘just doing it’ and moving on without ever learning a thing, become acceptable in terms of performance?
  • Can we discern where a more formal approach is really useful? Where does it realy help someone learn to begin to know and/or do something?

Click here to view Formal and Informal Development Options at Reuters.

Source: David Grebow and Reuters

Informal Learning Practices and Processes

The following are examples of some of the practices and processes for launching online communities:

  • Access to reference materials and best practices
  • Make it easy to contribute and share content
  • Discussing and having dialog with peers and other experts 
  • Reviewing presentations by peers and other experts
  • Leadership led dialogues and discussions
  • Exposure to other departments and roles
  • Subscribing to and reading work related posts –  inexpensive way of communication
  • Creating “lessons learned”  after projects or other work is complete and reviewing learned experience of others
  • Using social networking tools to find and connect  with people to communicate with and learn from
  • Access to frequently asked questions and answers of others
  • Coaching and mentoring by more experienced workers
  • Ask colleagues to help with problem solving
  • Working with and observing more experienced colleagues

Source:  SRI Report