To take full advantage of the capital investments made in their organizations, today’s senior-level executives and learning leaders must first know about and understand the myriad technologies that exist to support formal and informal learning and performance. Think of these technologies as a learning ecosystem—that is, the interconnected strategies, systems, tools, and the like that support your learning infrastructure across the enterprise. And building an ecosystem requires a major commitment from every level of an organization, in terms of drafting a viable strategy, understanding important technology considerations, and implementing the infrastructure based on known best practices.

The learning ecosystem mindset

It’s no surprise that much of the learning and performance support that occurs today is happening outside of formal classroom environments. What is surprising, however, is that many organizations haven’t kept up with this shift. To best align with our learners’ true needs, those responsible for creating strategies and building learning ecosystems—CLOs, training directors, learning managers, etc.—must soon adopt a new way of thinking. Successful strategies within the learning ecosystem are those that consider all of the various ways that support learning and performance in a single system. So, rather than define training, performance support, eLearning, mobile learning, and other methods as separate and distinct delivery mediums, a learning ecosystem mindset assumes interconnectedness between each medium and a comprehensive strategy that integrates them all. This new mindset incorporates the various ways to support people in their day-to-day work with how organizations can provide necessary support to make the most impact.

It should also not come as a surprise that technology drives much of the learning that takes place within organizations, and the related expenditures represent a majority of learning and development capital investments. It stands to reason, then, that a thorough understanding of those technologies is a prerequisite to building a learning ecosystem. However, most organizations make isolated purchasing decisions, with little consideration for how to incorporate the new technology within the existing infrastructure or how it will work with other new technologies. Additionally, many organizations do not realize the full value of their existing systems and tools, thus vastly reducing the value of an already costly capital investment. Just as a learning ecosystem requires a new strategy mindset, it also requires an updated approach to thinking about the systems, platforms, and technologies to best support your organizational learning and performance goals.

And finally, when it comes to embracing this new mindset and implementing your strategy, learning executives might take a cue from Marshall Goldsmith, because “what got you here [most certainly!] won’t get you there.” Fortunately, many organizations have begun the journey toward a learning ecosystem mindset and are ready and willing to share their successes, challenges, and lessons learned. Hearing these stories and case studies can help all learning executives as they, too, take steps to strategize, build, and implement learning ecosystems in their organizations.

Leveraging technology to meet learners’ needs

Never before has a single conference existed to explore, discuss, and shape the learning ecosystem … until now. At Ecosystem 2014, co-located with The eLearning Guild’s Learning Solutions 2014 Conference & Expo, executives and senior-level learning professionals will have the first-ever opportunity to take a deeper dive and discover how to create a customized learning ecosystem that delivers training and support, drives learner engagement, leverages collaboration, and tracks performance across the organization.

Ecosystem 2014 offers 27 discussion sessions from which to choose, with three individual tracks focused on the strategy, technology, and implementation considerations for building your own learning ecosystem. Table 1 identifies the tracks and some representative topics—follow the links within the table for a detailed look. This is a unique opportunity to explore the questions—and the answers—that will help bring real change to your organization. If you’re involved in building the strategy for learning and performance support within your organization, consider registering for Ecosystem 2014 today.