Learning Paths 101: Boost Learner Engagement with Personalized Learning

Are you looking for an effective way to engage your learners and improve their learning outcomes? A learning path may be the answer. Learning paths are designed to help learners progress through a course, develop skills, and acquire knowledge at their own pace. By optimizing your learning experience with a tailored learning path, you can increase engagement and achieve improved business results.

In this article, we’ll dive deeper into what a learning path is, why organizations need them, and how to build your own – from choosing the right learning management system (LMS) to understanding the instructional design principles behind learning paths.

What is a learning path?

Whether your employees need to complete the latest compliance training, acquire new soft skills, or master their sales trainings, you can make sure they reach their learning goals by crafting customized learning paths.

Learning paths are designed to help learners progress through a course – module-by-module – and acquire knowledge at their own pace. Setting up prerequisites contributes to the success of custom learning paths by ensuring that learners have completed the necessary modules before they can proceed further down their path.

The ability to add equivalencies to your learning path can also be useful, since these ensure that learners complete at least one of the equivalent courses that are grouped within a Learning Path, before moving forward. This can help make sure that learners understand all concepts without having to repeat material unnecessarily.

By optimizing your employee learning experiences with tailored learning paths, you can increase engagement and achieve improved business results. Ideally, Instructional Designers should be able to pull in learning materials from other sources (like videos, podcasts, infographics etc) to create learning paths, and group the most relevant courses together – to ensure that learners have covered all the necessary material. Taking a curated, multi-modal approach to content is a great way to you’re your learning paths engaging. Later in this article, we’ll explore which LMS features are best for taking this approach.

Why create learning paths?

Organizations with strong learning cultures are reported to see a 30-50% higher employee retention rate, compared to those without training opportunities. So, it’s no surprise that many leaders are looking for new ways to keep their employees learning. Workplaces that offer individualized learning paths allow employees to engage with different forms of content at their own pace, helping them reach their full potential more efficiently.

Here are a few of the benefits of custom learning paths:

  • Learning paths make training scalable. Customizing learning paths by grouping relevant courses together and showing user progress can make going from one course to the next feel effortless for learners. From an organizational standpoint, having a learning management system in place that allows for automated notifications, tasks, and assignments can lead to a more scalable approach to personalized learning.
  • Learning paths give learners more choice. Allowing learners to take “a la carte” courses and grouping relevant courses together, means that outside courses can be included within a learning path, and the learner can participate in many different types of modules to complete their path.
  • Learning paths ensure requirements are met. Creating prerequisites so that learners cannot proceed to a course until they have completed a required course ensures that participants meet the necessary standards and achieve the learning goals your team has set for them.
  • Learning paths provide an effective multi-modal approach to training. Creating custom learning paths that allow you to curate in-house and external sources – from videos, to interactive quizzes, and independent self-study resources – can help instructional designers cater to learners with varying preferences.

How to build your own learning path

Building your own learning path can seem daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. With the right planning and execution, you can begin to launch learning paths that will help you reach your organizational learning goals.

While we can’t provide you with a comprehensive guide on creating a learning path, we can offer a few tips on how to get started:

  1. Prioritize Learner Needs Assessments. Any good L&D strategy has to start with meeting learner needs at scale. Before you even begin to explore which learning platform to use, which courses to create or include in your learning paths, or how to measure the success of your L&D program, you’ll need to create a scalable needs assessment that identifies the organization’s objectives, employees’ needs, and performance gaps that require training solutions. Your needs assessment should help your team uncover your organizational learning goals, too. Leveraging learning analytics can help your L&D team align learning and business goals, which is why operationalizing regular reporting is critical for building and optimizing learning paths.
  2. Research LMS Options. Once you know what your learners need, and you have aligned your learning and business goals, you can start researching your LMS options to find one that best suits your needs. Consider factors such as user experience (UX), accessibility, content delivery methods, responsiveness, customization options, and analytics capabilities before deciding on a learning platform. Additionally, make sure that any LMS you choose has secure data encryption.
  3. Plan and Execute Your Learning Paths. After the research phase, you’ll have to begin strategizing how to launch your learning paths. Incorporate your needs assessment findings into your planning, so that your learning paths meet your organization’s desired learning and business goals. Consider adding these steps to your learning path execution strategy: selecting optimal delivery methods for course materials, breaking down complex topics into more manageable pieces, incorporating assessments, collecting learner feedback, reporting on learner analytics, and updating course materials as needed. Before you launch your learning path with your LMS of choice, make sure to set up all the processes and automations that will keep your learners on track: prerequisites and equivalencies, due dates, learner progress alerts and reminders, badges and certifications, and feedback mechanisms.
  4. Optimize Your Learning Paths. The last step to building your learning path is one that never really ends. Check in on and continuously improvement your learning paths. Use learner analytics and custom reporting tools to see where engagement is lagging, or to identify friction in the learner journey. Empower learners and instructors to collaborate by building regular check-ins into your courses and opening channels for feedback.

We hope that this article provided useful insights on how to research, plan, and implement customized learning paths and that you can apply a few of these insights to improve outcomes for your learners and your business at large. No matter what kind of training you’re planning, taking the time to build effective learning paths can make the difference for your organization and its employees.