By: Michael Croft
It’s important to understand the reasons why we need and use tools. For this article, a tool is not a drill, it’s a digital tool for learning. It’s something a learner uses to work through ideas or processes while demonstrating thought, planning and decision making for a desired outcome. Like a tool for construction, a tool for learning aids with completing a desired outcome in an innovative and effective way.
A Solutions Agnostic Solution
A learning platform is itself a tool to deliver learning. Better yet, a learning platform is not a platform at all, it’s a suite of tools to personalize learning when and where you need it. An ecosystem of learning tools offers diverse approaches and delivers specific learning outcomes. Tools can be organized into Learning Spaces, seamlessly plugged into an LMS and even integrated with workplace applications.
Jobs-to-be-Done is a concept to improve innovation processes and move beyond evolutionary changes in existing products and services. Traditionally, Jobs-to-be-Done focuses on why and how consumers purchase solutions. I am applying these concepts in a slightly different way to show how Jobs-to-be-Done can be adapted to innovate learning, delivery and consumption.
First, why learning tools? Let’s provide a concrete example: a renowned faculty member of a prominent business school has a method and process for teaching a specialized topic. The issue is she can’t be everywhere, not to mention the fact that a video recording, slides and a PDF offer an underwhelming experience for learners in her absence. Let’s turn her method and process into an interactive, digital tool – like a game. The tool immerses the learner inside the method and process making him become a part of the experience. The tool has social capabilities allowing the learner to work in teams and share insights. Like the real world, the learner is mobile and collaborates with people in different regions, fostering a “learn everywhere” stance. Taking this idea further, imagine a global marketplace of hundreds of such tools from thought leaders around the world. And finally, make the tools connectable – like LEGO® bricks.
Tools are not just intellectual property turned digital, they can be of any form to aid learning. There are many “in-between” tools like tasks, calendars, biographies, program management etc., used to connect more specialized tools. In the context of Jobs-to-be-Done, when and how tools are used is referred to as consumption chaining. Consider that each learning tool is designed to do a specific job. Then, chaining, i.e. connecting tools in specific ways, creates unique learning paths to achieve desired outcomes. Beyond unique paths, the ways in which learners interact with tools is also unique to their style, yet the overall learning objective is maintained. The true value of a learning platform is about the interaction – with people or content or both — and the gained outcome and ability to measure it.
Tools vs Features
Using our drill example, features are variable speeds, a keyless chuck, higher volts and so on. A tool is the drill that offers these features. It’s important to differentiate a feature from a tool. An example is a Task tool that provides a means to create and manage tasks. Features of a Task tool include noting a task is complete, sharing tasks, setting permissions, task prioritization, etc. Most learning platforms today are comprised of a singular tool with many features. This misses the point and can hinder innovative and effective outcomes.
A drill can’t be used to hammer a nail. A single tool cannot do all jobs properly and cannot accommodate numerous individual preferences to do a job. Learners and learning designers require a diverse toolbox, not a single tool with bloated features, many of which are rarely used or used incorrectly. Often, added features confuse the original intent, bleeding scope into unrelated areas. Tools have a specific scope and purpose with relevant features for a modern learning age.
An ecosystem of integrated solutions serves diverse learning approaches including communities of practice, social learning, micro-learning, coaching, mentoring and even didactic training. It’s a solution agnostic platform due to the composability of tools – the ability to combine them in various ways – and the modern designs of these tools that include social and collaborative capabilities across desktop and mobile devices.
A key success factor in using a Jobs-to-be-Done approach in an ecosystem is the universal design of tools. While diversity is the goal, so is consistency. Diversity and consistency seem to be at odds, but on the contrary, the two are beautifully compatible. The goal is to deliver a unique learning experience using an ever-growing ecosystem of tools, while also ensuring a seamless experience for learners.
Volute collaborates with business schools, companies and thought leaders to solve many of the challenges alluded to in this article. Such challenges include slow and costly time-to-market for custom programs, high attrition rates, lack of data, low engagement, lack of mobility and facilitated collaboration tools. The business model is a knowledge economy; turning L&D expertise into digital tools for learning and sharing them via a global community ecosystem. Members of our community contribute to the ecosystem and/or use tools made available by other members. A global ecosystem of growing solutions is itself innovative and effective, amassing niche solutions to solve widespread educational challenges.
To join the movement and be an active participant of change, contact Volute at firstname.lastname@example.org or 888.316.6303.