ALEx stories

What Is a Learning Path and Why Is It Necessary?

Chelsea Iversen Apr. 30, 2020

What is a learning path?

A learning path is a group of related courses that, together, help you master some topic or area of learning. Inside this learning path, there can be various methods of learning, based on learning style preference. The overall purpose of a learning path is to drive learning that's needs-based and, ultimately, results-based.

Here are some important benefits of a learning path:

1. It helps you reach goals

Learning paths are the critical difference between wasting money on employee learning and investing in learning that will benefit your business.

To create a learning path, you need to know what the needs are. First you need to know what level or topic of knowledge you want your team to grasp, and then you need to know what gaps are missing for your learners. Your goals ultimately determine which areas of focus your team needs to assess, and then an assessment can help offer them direction. Learning, in today’s fast-paced digital world, is not a haphazard adventure of discovery — at least not if it’s to be most effective. 

As a business tool, learning should be approached just as any other business tool would be: with careful consideration and calculation based on needs.

One of the best ways to send learners down a goals-based learning path is to begin with an assessment.

Our digital marketing assessments are available exclusively for ALEx subscribers. (Join ALEx for free to test your digital marketing skills today.)

Starting out with an assessment does two very powerful things. First, it allows existing skills and strengths to be examined and holes to be pointed out. Second, it gives the learner a degree of autonomy — that they are not simply being told to take a specific course for no reason. Assessing skills is a way of showing why a certain learning trajectory is needed.

Then, it’s crucial to encourage your team to take the assessment again as they’re venturing down their specified learning path.

2. It gives learners autonomy

Autonomous learning has been shown to improve performance, thanks to its ability to help students learn and master skills “on their own terms.” Journeying down a learning path that has been determined based on skills assessment results is the ultimate autonomy in online learning.

When employees know they’re in charge of their learning experience, they’re engaged even more and have the capacity to perform better. Assessments-based learning paths help enable a team's  autonomy because the evidence is there from day one. The data from the assessments give them complete transparency into their missing skills, and they can pursue the necessary courses to close that knowledge gap on their own. Each step in the learning journey is moving them closer to closing gaps and making them more skilled at their jobs.

3. It allows for cognitive diversity

Along with what you learn, how you learn matters. 

Platforms created for on-demand digital learning with built-in learning paths can address the various subjects people need to learn but can also cater to different learning styles. You can include options that have reading and writing in order to appeal to the linguistic learners. You can include podcasts and webinars for those who learn better through listening. Or get a group of people to take a course together and then talk about it in order to motivate the interpersonal learner. Embracing cognitive diversity is a strategy to motivate your team to learn. Each learner can autonomously select what’s best for them if you provide a diversity in learning methods. A platform that provides this flexibility is ideal.

To be most effective, the learning journey should include any and all ways to absorb the material, and should not leave any learning style out of that equation.

4. It gives you data

With learning paths that are built into online learning platforms like The Ad Learning Exchange, you can see into your employee’s learning activities. Through your own enterprise portal, you can see how engaged each member of your team is in the courses and how close they are to completing their goals.

The measurability of a learning path for employee training in marketing is crucial in an industry that’s always changing. Goalposts are constantly changing. It’s important to have the data that tells you how far you are from your goal.

If you have created customized content for your team, having access to the data as they progress through various learning paths helps you see how well your courses are addressing needs. You can see engagement with your courses and course ratings — two helpful bits of information to instruct and guide your course creation.

The Ad Learning Exchange can help you create a custom curriculum for your team. All you have to do is sit back and watch the data roll in.