A learning path is a structured guide for a learner to follow. It is a combination of courses that learners should go through while mastering a particular subject or discipline. It is a simple and valuable tool that allows you to enroll multiple learners in multiple courses thereby saving you time.
Learning paths allow instructors to assess the progress of the learners and monitor their completion timeframes. Every learner has their own learning path depending on the time taken to complete a module.
If there are different learning paths in a learning management system (LMS), it means there is more than one course. Hence, there are many combinations of courses each made up of a selection of some of the possible courses available.
For example, a course on digital marketing may comprise courses in content marketing, search engine optimization (SEO), and social media marketing. Each learning path aims at teaching the learner a particular skill. Also, the user is free to enroll in multiple courses at any time.
Learning is a journey and every learner has their own route to follow. The journey should be tailored to the user’s needs. The most efficient way to achieve this is by structuring and sequencing content. Indeed, learning paths are the surest way of organizing, structuring, and sequencing learning material.
Learning path is one of the most common elearning topics. For information on other popular elearning topics, visit this page.
Learning paths ensure that learning is ever constant and does not stagnate. In some cases, many training programs do not provide enough for the learner’s needs. They use the traditional model of learning which has been proven to be inadequate.
For instance, in most traditional training programs, books are the primary tool used. If a book is read once, the learners will only remember 10% of its content. 90% of the book’s content will not be absorbed.
Such an example proves why traditional modes of learning are not the best. Improvements in technology have replaced traditional models of learning and with such advancement, new concepts such as learning paths are born.
Examples of Learning Paths
Learning Paths for Students and Employees
Onboarding new students or employees usually takes time, mostly, weeks or months. Before completing training offered via your LMS, these users need to complete several courses. Previously, users were enrolled individually for each course. However, with learning paths, this tedious process is skipped.
Since courses are combined together in a learning path, enrolment of each user only happens once. Later, the learners are automatically enrolled in all the courses and the courses are delivered to them in a sequence until they complete them. Once they finish the courses, the onboarding stage is marked as complete.
For businesses, when HR systems are integrated with an LMS, the process of onboarding becomes easy. For instance, when a new employee joins an organization, he is automatically added to the LMS and then onboarded to a learning path.
Learning Paths for Partners and Customers
Learning paths are also used to educate partners and customers. Courses can be tied together to give information and guidance on how to use a certain product or service. Learners are then given information regarding product or service features. They are also taught common support queries, troubleshooting, and how to resolve technical issues.
Similar to corporate training, if you integrate your LMS to your CRM (Customer Relationship Management) system, new learners will automatically be added to your LMS and onboarded to your learning paths.
Types of Learning Paths
This type requires that a learner completes a certain number of courses before moving to the next level. Thus, it is not mandatory to complete the whole course. For instance, if a course in digital marketing has 6 courses, the learner can be required to complete only 4 courses.
There is no requirement for them to complete all the 6 courses. To select which courses to complete, the learner can look at the course titles, descriptions, and other useful information. Such information will help the user to decide which courses will be most useful to them.
The instructor only sets the minimum number of courses to be completed. The order of completing these courses is usually not important, as long as the learner completes the training.
A learner’s choice learning path is a good fit when order is not important. Additionally, it gives the user more power to choose their desired path.
Sequential Learning Paths
A sequential learning path is designed such that a learner can only move to the next level upon the completion of the previous course. It is the opposite of a learner’s choice type of a learning path. The learner is, therefore, bound to complete the courses one by one.
Following the same example we used previously, the learner has to complete all the 6 courses available to move to the next stage. Order in this case is important. Also, the administrator has the rights to grant the user access to the next level immediately or after some set time period.
Sequential learning paths are the best option if the courses require an increase in mastery level or become more complex as one progresses. If a learner passes an exam, they are granted access to the next stage meaning they are approaching the new courses at a level they can understand.
This type of a learning path doesn’t have to be based on subject matter. It is especially useful if you want a structured training program for courses that have to be completed in a given period of time, such as employee onboarding training.
Such a path would only cover courses that a new worker needs and would be rolled out to them in a logical manner. For instance, they would first begin with orientation, then company policies, and later customer service skills, and so on.
This is the least common type of learning path. As the title suggests, there is a given timeframe to complete courses in a certain sequence. The learner can not move to the next level if the time has not elapsed since the set timeframe is the minimum allowed for the learner to comprehend, digest, and engage with the learning material.
For instance, if a learner is given 5 days to complete the first learning path, on the 6th day they are automatically allowed access to the next level regardless of the number of courses they have completed in the previous module.
Therefore, if a learner completes all the units in 3 days, they will have to wait for 5 days to elapse to be granted access to the next level. However, the timeframes can also be smaller and specific. For instance, you can set 1-hour or 2-hour timeframes.
The question one would ask is why such an odd type of learning path exists. Indeed, the essence is to ensure that learners do not rush through the courses. In turn, they will have ample time to absorb and interact with the content which translates to increased knowledge retention.
Learning Paths and eLearning
Every organization desires to offer quality training to its learners. Many businesses and institutions are investing in training. It can either be corporate training or training offered in educational institutions.
For corporates, it would be unwise to invest so much in marketing and forget about training your workforce. Your company is only as good as the people you employ.
The important thing to consider is the type of training your organization should invest in as opposed to whether you will invest in training at all. Undoubtedly, online training is fast becoming the number one option for training programs in many organizations.
Online training is affordable, efficient, and leads to high levels of learner engagement. Also, the return on investment (ROI) compared to traditional models of training is high. In fact, many decision-makers are turning to eLearning for their training needs.
Despite its benefits, many organizations are not utilizing eLearning to its full potential. For instance, many instructors do not break down their content into smaller segments that are easy for learners to consume and digest.
Smaller courses are much more effective at delivering the message. Smaller bits of information are easier to remember. Indeed, this applies to all forms of learning, whether in school or in corporate settings. Breaking down courses into smaller segments also leads to higher knowledge retention.
If information is not presented to a learner in a simpler way, there will be a tendency to forget what is taught. This is where learning paths come in since they present content in smaller chunks and are structured in ways that will lead to the highest levels of engagement and retention.
Most decision-makers are aware of this concept but do not fully apply it to their training programs. The result is poorly trained learners and low ROI.
Benefits of a Learning Path
Saves time: As an administrator, time is saved if learning paths are set up in advance. When a new learner is being onboarded, they are automatically added to the LMS and assigned to a learning path.
The learning path is self-sufficient meaning that the administrator will not be involved so much in the activities of the learner. Once the learner completes a unit, they are granted access to the next without the intervention of the administrator.
Creates structured training programs: Learning paths add structure to a training program. They allow the users to control the order of the courses they are taking and the timeframes available for these courses.
Goal-oriented: Learning paths drive learners to achieve their goals. They keep them engaged with your course content. By sequencing the content, the learner will not be overwhelmed since they will only focus on the goal they are currently working on. The dashboard of your LMS will show the learner the course they are currently working on.
Learning Path and Your LMS
Learning paths make learning easy by making the process of acquiring and retaining knowledge simple. If integrated well into an LMS, the results are impressive. A few questions may arise.
What is the best LMS platform? Which types of LMSs allow the integration of learning paths?
Ideally, a cloud-based LMS is the best fit for this purpose, especially, one that has the learning paths feature. This is because such a platform allows access to learners in various locations. Such learners have varying needs and objectives that can be achieved with the help of learning paths.
Learning paths and LMS platforms go hand-in-hand. There are various reasons for this. First, a modern LMS will come with mobile learning features. Indeed, mobile learning is a good match for a learning path since ‘bite-sized’ bits of information can be delivered easily via mobile devices.
Also, information delivered by mobile devices is usually brief and clearly expressed. The learner will get the full value of training regardless of factors such as time constraints. Thus, a user can enjoy short videos on a smartphone or tablet even while on transit. In this case, mobile learning and learning paths combine to give the learner an adequate learning experience.
The course material in the LMS should be sequenced and then delivered to selected learners or learner groups. Ideally, access should be restricted. Learners should be granted access to succeeding courses after completion of previous ones in their learning paths based on some criteria that you will set.
In a robust eLearning environment, learning paths maximize learners’ knowledge retention. An LMS is one such environment. When choosing your platform, it is best to get one that does not charge per user. Instead, choose one that can allow access to an unlimited number of users.
Such a platform will effectively deliver the benefits of learning paths to a large number of your students or employees at an affordable price.
Learning paths are valuable to an organization since they promote a healthy learning culture. They make learning easy and enhance knowledge retention. They also ensure that you are getting good value for your money.
Your learners will get expert training which will make them more active and productive. To deliver learning paths effectively, it is best to do so via an LMS. When choosing an LMS platform, consider one with full-features including learning paths.