There’s plainly a crisis in how HR and L&D is working with training data. For example, according to the 2019 run of its annual Digital Learning Realities Research, HR analysts Fosway reported that only 14 per cent of respondents in the UK HR community think they are effectively measuring the impact of learning, while 53 per cent admit they’re probably doing it ‘ineffectively’ and 33 per cent are not even trying.
However, help may finally be at hand in the form of the Learning Experience Platform (LXP), originally defined by workplace learning expert Josh Bersin and recently formalised as a new market category by Gartner. LXPs have become increasingly common in the L&D world in the past few years, prized for their highly user-centric approach in their delivery model and usability. But a fact less acknowledged is that they have also revolutionised the analytical L&D option set.
Why we need to move beyond the LMS
That’s because LXPs track any behaviour traces and use them to test what works and what doesn’t, based on a powerful new way of collecting such data, the ‘Experience API’ or xAPI standard. The Experience API is a technology designed to create a rich environment for online training and learning and is there to address the limitations found with the e-learning technologies currently used that are too focused on tracking the learner through a specific course, rather than through diverse learning experiences.
Why does this matter? Up until recently, elearning analytics only existed in a very limited form, as any learning data that was harvested was very partial. That was due to the fact that the technology L&D had to rely on for so long – the LMS, the Learning Management System – is primarily an admin and delivery system, designed for managing access to training and participation of learners.
LMSs allowed trainers to upload content and create tasks for learners, so there is data available on the number of content downloads and task completions, but not on how learners responded to the material. Given this, it’s no surprise that any L&D insights and conclusions that are gleaned from the LMS are not especially useful. Learning is social, yet most LMSs don’t allow for user-generated content or content to be hosted by a third-party, let alone track content that isn’t already registered in an LMS. With these restrictions, even when people find exactly what they need as they direct their own learning, the actual learning they are engaged in is invisible to the learning system, and to the organisation. But with the dawn of the LEP, much more flexible and interesting ways of working with corporate learning have started to deliver much richer datasets that are the basis for really useful analysis.
The rise of new HR metrics
So how does this new API work? By working with activity streams. The best way to understand this is if you look at someone’s Facebook wall, what you are looking at is a series of activity stream statements, and the concept is gaining traction as a useful way to capture a person’s overall online activity, on social networks and in the enterprise. xAPIs capture learning experience data – and as we start to aggregate these streams across an enterprise, we can identify the training paths that lead to the most successful or problematic outcomes, and so what determines the effectiveness of the whole training programme.
Doing that would in turn enable HR leadership to glean new insight not only on what a learner has successfully learnt, but how they gained this knowledge and which learning approach they chose to follow. This provides opportunities for strong diagnostic values and advance performance indicators, such as Curiosity, or Resilience, and other very promising new HR metrics.
For example, ‘Curiosity,’ is associated with advanced abilities including an aptitude for learning – and as Knowledge, in the Google age, is easily acquired, employees we know who have this capacity could be a real asset for the company.
‘Perseverance’ is another example of a behaviour that can be gleaned from a learner’s training experience using the xAPI: many commentators believe we need to build greater resilience and adaptability to change in light of our continuing transformation into a knowledge economy. Finally, Self-Regulation is another behavioural indicator that an L&D Manager can now gather data on by looking at the route the user took in their learning journey. This characteristic provides information about an employee’s time management ability, with autonomy yet another sought-after skill seen as important in the New Economy.
A deeper picture of workplace learning
By using these new behavioural indicators, data available for Human Resources and line of managers of the real capabilities of their teams becomes much richer and more complete. What’s more HR professionals can properly consider the full candidate potential of a person for a specific job not only in terms of their knowledge and skills, but also their character and behavioural qualities. Brands would have access to not only what a particular person has actually learned, but also how the learner landed there, what learning approach they have chosen, so we can come up with tailored recommendations that are close to their actual needs. Good news for the corporation and the benefit for the employee is to help her become the real owner of their employability. Finally, trainers and HR managers also benefit, because they can access all sorts of new types of insight – not only what someone successfully learnt, but also how the learner got there and which learning approach they chose.
So let’s seize the chance that the powerful combination of the LXP and the xAPI offers – and make workplace training and development the truly strategic business tool we all know it deserves to be.
Interested in HR analytics? We recommend Mission Critical HR Analytics Summit 2019.