How to optimise your learning experience platform for upskilling

By DJ Waldow

6 minute read

Learning Experience Platforms (LXPs) ALONE aren’t optimised for upskilling. Because learning a new skill is an open-ended process that happens everywhere - on and off your LXP. 

That shared thinking is what cements our recent partnership with the market-leading LXP, Degreed. Degreed is an open ecosystem. And as Degreed VP of Marketing Strategy, Sean Kinney, wrote recently

"Learning and skill development come from multiple sources, inputs and data types. Capturing and tracking information about learning wherever it happens, by definition, requires an open ecosystem."

If you’re wondering why the closed-off LMS is not particularly associated with learning these days, it’s because what applies to the overall system also applies to the person using it.

Learning new skills requires a diversity of experiences and content - and the ability to focus.

Let’s break it down.

The process of learning a new skill



Let’s say you decided you wanted to make a podcast yet had zero to little knowledge about however to start. Knowing podcasting may be less-than-simple, you have to establish that you wanted to do it enough (WIIFM) to power through the various challenges.

You start by “knowledge gathering” — researching everything and anything there is to know about podcasts: how to record, common pitfalls, necessary tools, etc... 

Note: The above is all necessary, yet not enough (not sufficient) to turn you into a successful podcaster.

You need: 

  • to select and learn specific tools. Let’s take editing. Do you go with traditional, powerful, and complex (Udacity or GarageBand), or something easy/fast/new but less powerful (Alitu)
  • a network of people similar enough to my situation — but who have launched a podcast already — to review and offer feedback
  • to actually deliver something from this newfound knowledge (a-rockin' podcast).

Let’s now translate “learning how to podcast” vs. your entire learning platform, one ideally optimised for upskilling your employees.

Below are five ways to optimise your learning platform for upskilling.

TIP #1: Distinguish ultra-learners from hard-sell managers

We’ve been in the business of learning here at Filtered since its inception. Learning is at our core, you could say.

Over the years, we’ve spoken with and interviewed a lot of learners and those implementing learning platforms — internal Filtered employees and our clients. We’ve gleaned from these conversations that most companies, can segment their total learning audience based on how much time they dedicate per week to self-directed learning.

One way to measure these segments is to look at engagement.

Like many things in life, these 3 buckets of learners are set up like a traditional bell curve: 20% live on the edges while 80% sit in the middle.

  • Disengaged: On one end of the curve are the disengaged. Generally (thankfully!), every organisation — no matter what size — has a small minority of completely disengaged learners. These folks will only log in if they have to, either because it's mandatory or because that learning is linked to immediate individual or team goals. Learning is a “hard sell.”
  • Uber-engaged: On the other end of the curve are the uber-engaged, the lifelong, super learners … those who seek out, crave, and genuinely enjoy learning new skills and honing (upskilling) existing ones. This group dedicates time to exploratory learning (up to 1 hr a week) because their role requires maintaining specialist knowledge. The self-learners are solid at recognising learning gaps and filling them. But the expectation is learning systems are intelligent and well-designed.
  • Disorganised: A large pool of disorganized learners sits in the middle of the curve. They show up. They learn. But their learning is far from optimised. This group is often new to the industry, and while they know they have knowledge gaps, they have yet to develop a reliable strategy to prioritise specific learning. Nevertheless, the disorganized are open to new tools and will pursue interesting content, especially if it's cool tech and gamified learning.

We recommend using some platform data (any content vendor will do) to identify some of each group and find out what is driving that behaviour. 

TL;DR When optimising your learning platform for upskilling, be sure to segment your audience by engagement.

TIP #2: Make it easier to focus on skills

Making it easier to focus on skills is another way of saying, “ensure it's harder to be distracted by the endless sea of shiny stuff and things.”

If you are looking for an endless cornucopia of content, go check out the Internet. You know, the World Wide Web. Your LXP is not meant to be a place with heaps and mounds of learning content.

One of the more challenging aspects of any tremendous upskilling journey is making a clear decision and not wavering from it. Unfortunately, many of these choices are beleaguered by decision fatigue — “when the mind becomes fatigued after a sustained period of decision making… ” (Optimizely).

A library of 20,000 skills does not help teams make quick decisions.

Instead, do the work for your learners by presenting them with questions consisting of no more than 7* options. This, in turn, will lead your team to a small number of recommended skills (ideally, 7!)

*Why 7? With extensive experience deploying a front-end questioning interface within Filtered products, we’ve learned that 7 is the magic number.

By focusing on 7, you give your team the gift of focus and reflection.

Share the areas you think they ought to focus on. Note: Ensure you’ve designed a good skills framework first). Each major capability area for your business with an audience of a few thousand should not involve a choice of more than 30 skills.

TIP #3: Clear out as much content as possible; keep around 20,000 assets.

While there is no ideal number of items in an LXP, we’ve found that 20,000 is closest to the “correct” number. Why? 20,000 is often the number that Filtered’s content intelligence curates to

And it makes sense. 

Cull. Cut. Delete. FILTER. 

Our Content Intelligence technology culls through your learning content library and “filters” out the junk, resulting in clean, properly tagged content libraries — identifying the content and libraries relevant to your business goals and helpful to your organisation and various teams.

Let’s look at the math behind the 20,000 number: You’re probably not going to have more than 200-300 skills in focus across all your capability areas. To keep the quality and focus high you definitely don’t want any more than 50-100 learning assets.

Math: Based on those skills and learning assets per skill, you are looking at a low of 10,000 and a high of 30,000. Guess what? 20,000 is the average!

20,000 means it’s unlikely there’s a business-relevant topic you won’t cover. Also, 20,000 is from the (overwhelming) hundreds of thousands of assets living in many LXPs or the millions (and billions) of assets on the Internet.

TIP #4: Market the platform as a ‘work’ platform not a ‘play platform’

When you engage in a learning platform at work, the goal is to learn skills that will help you … at work.

While that statement may seem obvious, without a strong guiding framework, LXP platforms can become less about learning new work-related skills and more about consuming content for fun.

This is why LXPs often frame themselves as talent experience or career mobility platforms. The phraseology and positioning are essential and intentional. 

Even if framing your LXP as a work platform puts off some people looking to consume content for fun, it still makes a lot more sense to frame the LXP as a place where you go to focus your mind on work skills.

A learning platform optimised for upskilling is not simply about ‘“learning”, in the broad sense of gaining knowledge. Instead, it's about relating focus skills to individual career interests. 

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TIP #5: Embrace the small but important role your LXP will actually play in the upskilling journey

As we wrote at the very beginning of this article, Learning Experience Platforms (LXPs) ALONE aren’t optimised for upskilling.

Case in point: It is unlikely that any skill will be defined in the same way by each and every learner in your organisation. It’s nearly impossible that will be the case.

Take one employee, Jevian, who is trying to learn a new skill, let’s call it “business podcasting for non-marketers with no more than an hour a week to dedicate to this task.” 

No surprise here, but there is not a course that exists with a title. 

As a result, Jevian’s journey will look more like this:

  1. Establish he’s interested (both financially and career-wise) in the skill.
  2. Confirm this skill is feasible enough to learn (time, equipment, financial resources, etc..)
  3. Ground himself in the foundational knowledge about podcasting
  4. Get started with some information about how to do it
  5. Select some podcasting tools and learn how to use them 
  6. Speak with mentors to help provide feedback
  7. Actually try to do it and demonstrate it’s possible. Note: Allen Tough’s 50+-year-old book, The Adult’s Learning Projects, remains unchallenged as a bible in this arena.

Depending on what type of learning platform is in place, it’s possible you can get some help with (1) and (3), and (6). In this case, you have a platform that focuses on key skills and matches the person with learning paths and people connections to master a new skill. This is what Josh Bersin has coined a ‘Capability Academy’ and his own Josh Bersin Academy is a fine example of it.

However, even if the above is true, it’s only a partial reflection of the upskilling journey. Why? It’s all centered around Jevian! Just because your company will benefit from Jevian’s new business podcasting skills, it doesn’t mean it can all exist on a platform you control.

Know your strengths. Embrace your weaknesses.

Hopefully, these five tips to optimise your learning platform for upskilling are helpful. 

We believe the following to be true:

Do the bits you can do really well.

Don’t try to buy or build a platform that does everything related to a particular set of skills.

Don’t be sucked in by any end to end vision - open ecosystems are essential for learning.

You’ve got this.

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