Why choose a learning portal?

This blog is based on a learning portal seminar hosted by Peter Dobinson, Solutions Architect at NetDimensions’ partner company LEO, at the NextSteps 2017 conference in London.

Learning portals can be customized to deliver tailored e-learning solutions on all devices, including smartphones and tablets

While a Learning Management System (LMS) provides a wealth of diverse information for your learners, portals act as a neat destination on more focused areas. As well as being gateways to further learning, portals are popular with NetDimensions’ clients because of their capacity to provide everything from guidance about new working processes to insights into user engagement.

Why do organizations like learning portals?

There are a lot of reasons why companies find learning portals highly effective. You can target a specific audience – potentially employees, customers or anyone who wants to access your learning programmes – and focus on a precise business impact area or goal, such as sales learning, with a holistic solution.

This is primarily what makes a portal different from an LMS: rather than providing a single solution to people across departments, languages and countries, a portal offers excellent learning opportunities to a subset of people with particular business requirements.

You can still utilize all of the features of your existing LMS, but you can tailor the learner experience for the content you’re presenting. You can offer a highly customized and relevant experience through the knowledge and activities you choose to present to your users. This makes a portal ideal if any of your users have ever had difficulty finding the information they want within your LMS, or if they only need to complete a small portion of your learning library in a short period of time.

How does a learning portal work?

A custom portal has functionality which allows you to build and update the specific journey and information being provided. The portal also receives and launches content from your LMS, and it can link to your social tools, allowing your audiences to further their learning through tools such as discussion forums, real-time chat and collaborative learning experiences.

There are two other important elements to portals: application programming interfaces (APIs) which can be used to link your systems and allow them to communicate with each other, and normally some form of Single Sign On (SSO), allowing your learners to log into the portal and access all of the content from your systems with a seamless login experience from a customer portal, or some other tool they already log into.

This can be achieved on a large scale. A great example of this is LEO’s work with one of the largest food and beverage manufacturers in the world. With over 80,000 employees globally, some of whom are external, the organization operates various portals for colleges of excellence covering topics like sales, marketing and supply chain fundamentals. The organization opted for a learner portal rather than an LMS because they wanted a small subset of learning material within a customized learner experience (LX).

These portals offer bespoke learner experiences and content to different groups within the business – they each have a customized user interface, learner experiences and content. They use gamification to drive people to the platform, they are localized for the different markets around the world, and are built to be fully responsive to allow access from a 3G connection. Thousands of users can access knowledge specific to their role through these custom portals, and learning leaders can also track their progress, helping to measure the business impact of learning.

Another learning portal example is NetDimensions work with Digicel, who were looking for a customized learning solution. About 1,000 young millennials work for Digicel, a mobile phone manufacturer in the Caribbean. NetDimensions’ success with this group was down to an attractive, easy-to-use learning portal accessed through an automatic enrolment after they were given a code. Dynamic videos and other training ploys were made accessible only to users who visited the portal.

A group of L&D leaders discussing the implementation of learning portals

How should your learning portal evolve?

Whether you want to change your portal’s resources or update its information, provided that you portal has a content management system (CMS) behind the scenes, moving elements around and adding new content won’t take too much of your time and doesn’t require any coding. Reporting and analytics allow you to take an agile approach and respond to the needs of your learners.

When NetDimensions worked with dental innovation company 3Shape, for example, the organization’s portal leaders tailored aspects of their content after discovering that dental assistants, rather than just dentists, were among the portal users carrying out scanning.

With a learning portal, you can be confident that a solution which meets your needs now can be easily adapted in the years ahead to enhance the user journey and maximize the business impact of learning. This versatility is another key benefit of using a portal.

If you enjoyed this blog, then you might also be interested in reading about transforming the learner’s experience through learning portals. To speak to a NetDimensions consultant about our learning portals and LMS solutions, get in touch here.

Contributor
Peter Dobinson is a Solutions Architect at LEO
Peter Dobinson has had over 10 years’ experience in designing, building and managing online products. He previously worked for Philips, Specsavers, Electronic Arts and the NHS. At NetDimensions’ partner company LEO, he is responsible for some of our largest learning architectures, working as both Solutions Architect and Technical Lead. He is an expert in learning management systems, data-driven design, product management, data analytics and system integrations.

NextSteps North America 2017 Conference: Looking Back

The NextSteps North America user conference took place in New Orleans on May 16-18. NetDimensions clients, partners and event sponsors joined this inspiring event to share best practices and hear presentations from other users as well as NetDimensions product and solutions experts.

At the pre-conference workshops on May 16th, attendees had access to hands-on training for NetDimensions Talent Suite. These workshops equipped attendees with the knowledge to maximize the benefits of using their implementation.

NextSteps 2017 focused on different aspects of the business impact of learning investments and how to measure it. Keynote speaker David Wentworth, Brandon Hall Group’s Principal Analyst for Learning & Development, talked about the value of learning technologies far beyond their price.

Looking back at the NextSteps EMEA User Conference

The NextSteps EMEA user conference took place in London last week (on 10-11 May).

NetDimensions clients, partners and event sponsors joined this inspiring event to share best practices and listen to presentations from other users as well as NetDimensions product experts. The delegates also had the occasion to learn about the solutions provided by the other Learning Technologies Group (LTG) companies.

At the pre-conference workshops on May 10th, the conference delegates had access to hands-on training for NetDimensions Talent Suite administration. These workshops equipped attendees with the knowledge to maximize the benefits of using their Talent Suite implementation.

This year’s conference focused on different aspects of the business impact of learning and how to measure it. On May 11th, special guest Donald H. Taylor, Chairman of the Learning and Performance Institute, gave an inspiring keynote on what the CEO really wants from learning & development and how the L&D team can deliver it.

Don also moderated a panel discussion centered on the business impact of learning. The panelists included L&D professionals and experts from Fresenius Medical Care and Thales Learning and Development. Adrian Jones of Fosway Group, Europe’s leading HR analyst firm, was speaking on the panel as well. Drawing on their real-world experience of demonstrating value, the panel explored approaches that work, those that don’t, and the pitfalls waiting for the unwary.

In the afternoon Piers Lea, Chief Strategy Officer of LEO hosted a session on measuring the business impact of learning. He discussed practical strategies to drive analytics forward and deliver real benefits.

Talent and learning management leaders from global organizations including Moody’s Analytics, BAE Systems, BCD Travel, 3Shape, and GMC Software presented success stories and best practices that enabled them to reach their organizations’ strategic goals.

At the expo, delegates also had the opportunity to meet conference sponsors Speexx, eXact learning solutions, and Dreamtek.


In his session Mike Alcock, Managing Director of gomo learning showed the delegates how to solve multi-device learning delivery needs using gomo authoring and NetDimensions Talent Slate. Peter Dobinson, Solutions Architect of LEO gave a presentation on how to transform learners’ experience using learning portals.

The event was concluded with a networking reception, where we had a performance by 9-time Guinness World Record holder SamSam Bubbleman.