What Are Learning Paths & How They Benefit Employee Training
Instructional Design

What Are Learning Paths & How They Benefit Employee Training

, Senior Content Writer

Imagine searching for specific information in an unmarked room piled high with books. Now imagine looking for that information in a library with categorized and structured resources. Instead of getting lost in a jumble of individual resources, a tailored selection of books and materials guides you on a specific path to knowledge.

That’s exactly what learning paths offer in corporate training. They take employees beyond isolated courses and provide a structured journey.

Let’s explore their benefits (for both employees and organizations), look at a few examples, and get tips for planning effective training paths in your company.

A learning path, training path, or learning track is a curated roadmap that guides learners through a sequenced series of learning experiences. With a learning path, courses are combined and aligned logically to achieve a specific learning objective.

Unlike a single course, learning paths start from a core foundation of knowledge and skills and then build on this.

What Are Learning Paths & How They Benefit Employee Training

The benefits of using learning paths for your business

Investing in well-designed learning paths can yield significant benefits for your organization, including:

A more structured training program

Learning paths help create clear direction in employee training. You plan a straightforward order that includes all the relevant information. This ensures your training programs support learning goals.

Rather than having to sort through all the courses you offer, employees have a clear direction in their learning and development. They can see what’s expected of them and the next steps for getting there.

Goal-driven learning

A learning path cuts out the fluff to target learning goals like acquiring specific skills or fulfilling compliance requirements. They break learning into manageable chunks to keep learners on track without overwhelming them with all the content you have.

Admin efficiency

A learning path saves time by letting you enroll your team in multiple courses at once. You don’t have to spend time registering and tracking them through courses individually. Learners are more independent, completing one course and then moving on to the next one.

Learning path types

Every learning path offers a structured approach to skill development. But there’s flexibility in how they’re designed. There are two main types of learning paths: linear and self-directed.

Here’s a breakdown:

1. Linear

Sometimes called successive learning paths, these follow a sequential structure. You specify an order in which modules should be completed. Then learners must finish one before moving on to the next.

This approach is ideal for building on existing skills and ensuring people master essential skills before progressing to more advanced subjects.

2. Self-directed

Self-directed training paths, also called alternative learning paths, give more flexibility and control. They allow each learner to choose from optional lessons and design their own path while still achieving the overall learning objective.

This type of learning path caters to individual learning styles and prior knowledge. For example, an alternative learning path for software training might have separate modules for basic users and power users.

Personalize learning paths with the power of AI

While the two main learning path types offer a strong foundation, artificial intelligence (AI) can build on either to personalize the learning experience. Using AI in conjunction with your Learning Management System (LMS) allows you to adjust the learning path for the learner.

Here’s how.

AI algorithms can analyze learner data, such as quiz performance or module completion times. Based on this data, the LMS can intelligently adjust the path, recommending additional resources for struggling learners or suggesting more challenging content for those who excel.

AI can also leverage learner data to suggest relevant learning paths beyond the one they’re currently enrolled in. Say an employee completes a marketing fundamentals path. Your platform might then recommend an additional path on social media marketing based on their browsing history or quiz performance.

Personalization ensures each employee progresses at their own optimal pace. It helps them focus on areas where they need the most support or that will help them achieve their career goals.

Learning path examples

Learning paths can improve training across various departments and disciplines within your organization. Here are a couple of examples to spark your creativity:

Onboarding learning path

Onboarding generally means lots of training. New hires need to learn the ins and outs of their jobs and how things work in your organization. A successive learning path ensures they get the information they need to understand your company and their place in it.

A linear path lets you cover essential company policies, procedures, and core functionalities step-by-step. This path might include:

  • Company history, mission, and values
  • An overview of company culture and communication styles
  • Department-specific courses on tools and technologies
  • Compliance modules on anti-discrimination and data security
  • Soft skills courses relevant to a role, such as active listening or presentation skills

Job skills training

For specific roles, you might use a self-directed learning path. This approach lets people choose content to help them reach their career goals. This might mean participating in multiple learning paths to curate their own development.

For example, a learning path for sales reps could start with required core content on how to communicate effectively. Or on basic sales prospecting techniques. It might then let learners choose from modules on other specific topics like:

  • Industry trends
  • Negotiating skills
  • Different sales methodologies

Customized learning paths for your team’s unique training needs.
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This choice enables salespeople to focus on areas most relevant to their customer base.

How to create a learning path: A step-by-step guide

Ready to harness the power of learning tracks in your organization? Here are the key steps:

1. Assess your needs

It all starts with understanding the knowledge gaps. Conduct a training needs analysis to evaluate your current training programs and identify areas where employees need a boost. Where do they lack the skills to excel or achieve organizational goals?

2. Identify your learning objectives

Once you know your training needs, define specific, measurable goals for your learning path. What skills do you want people to gain? Align these objectives with your overall business goals.

3. Choose the right learning path type

Consider your learning objectives and target audience when selecting the best format. Successive paths are ideal for building foundational skills, while alternative paths offer flexibility for diverse learning styles and needs.

4. Structure the learning journey

Think of this as creating a map for your learners. Organize the content in a logical sequence. And break down complex topics into bite-sized modules to keep people engaged and motivated.

5. Curate high-quality content (with built-in engagement)

This is where the magic happens. Select top-tier content, whether building your own courses or using off-the-shelf educational resources.

Be sure to include engaging formats like online courses, video tutorials, and interactive exercises. Integrate assessment features like quizzes. Consider incorporating discussion forums or group projects to foster interaction, knowledge sharing, and peer-to-peer learning.

6. Build the learning path in your LMS

Leverage your Learning Management System to build your path. The best LMS platforms support easy content module sequencing, assessments, and discussion forums. You can also employ AI functionality to help create personalized learning paths (as mentioned earlier).

7. Track each learner’s progress and measure results

The journey doesn’t end there. You also need to assess the effectiveness of your learning path to understand what’s working and where you can improve.

Take advantage of your LMS platform’s tracking and reporting features to monitor learner engagement. Note the time it takes to finish and overall completion rates.

You can also use surveys or discussions to gather input from learners. User feedback will help you continuously improve your content, structure, and overall learning experience.

Key features of a winning learning path

So you’ve embarked on your learning path development journey. But what makes a truly effective path? Here are some key features to keep in mind:

  • Clear objectives. A well-defined learning path starts with a clear roadmap. Employees should understand what they’ll gain by completing the path.
  • Bite-sized, structured learning. Content should provide a smooth progression of knowledge and skills. And it should be broken down into digestible chunks to make it more accessible and to keep engagement levels high.
  • Engaging and varied content. Variety is the spice of learning! Not everyone learns the same way, so content should speak to various styles. Use diverse formats like videos, simulations, and interactive exercises to keep their attention and make the content memorable.
  • Ongoing support. A learning path gives employees more autonomy. But that doesn’t mean you should be completely hands-off. It’s important to maintain support throughout the learning journey. This could include access to mentors, coaches, or subject matter experts who can answer questions.

Learning paths and your LMS: A perfect match

Learning paths are an essential tool for learning and development. Today’s workforce needs targeted learning to keep up in their field. And your organization needs a streamlined way to help learners achieve their potential.

LMS software is the best way to develop straightforward and effective training paths.

A good LMS platform has user-friendly tools to build, sequence, and deliver learning paths. It can track and analyze learner progress, giving you valuable training insights. And it’s scalable. Using LMS platforms it’s easier to accommodate a growing number of learning paths and learners.

By investing in learning paths and leveraging your LMS platform’s capabilities, you’re investing in a future of innovation, boosting productivity, and giving your organization a competitive edge.

Save time, frustration and money with TalentLMS, the most-affordable and user-friendly learning management system on the market. Try it for free for as long as you want and discover why our customers consistently give us 4.5 stars (out of 5!)

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Fiona McSweeney - Senior Content Writer

Fiona, a skilled journalist, offers deep insights in L&D and HR, blending thorough research with storytelling. Her content captivates readers. Discover more by Fiona!

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