Running blended learning through your Microsoft 365 digital workplace

For a long time learning was at the periphery of the digital workplace and away from the daily flow of work, for example centred on a Learning Management System that was not easy to access and had poor usability. Given the importance of learning and training to employees and organisations, this has always been an anomaly. Thankfully a range of digital tools mainly available through the Microsoft 365 digital workplace are at last integrating learning right into the heart of the digital workplace. With the current focus on employee experience and on enabling people to better use digital tools, there has also never been a better time to initiate a project to deliver better learning through Microsoft 365.

Another advantage of Microsoft 365 is that because of its wide variety of channels and tools, it can support different types of learning. Most organisations have blended learning programmes with a mix of classroom training, e-learning, mandatory training, mentoring, Communities of Practice and more. Microsoft 365 can support blending learning through a mix of different channels. It can also help learning administrators to manage learning and support managers who need to keep on top of the training within their teams.

In this post we’re going to explore the different tools and channels that can be used to support blended learning programmes, making learning more accessible and discoverable.

A core learning platform and LMS through LMS365

The most important part of a digital learning ecosystem is a core learning platform or Learning Management System (LMS) that allows users to access a course catalogue of training available, book courses, access course material, and carry out e-learning. They can also then view a record of the learning they’ve taken and what they might need to take in the future.

For administrators, a learning platform provides the core tools to manage learning, including an administration module, and extra features such as learning paths, certificates and points to deliver on the learning requirements of different organisations. There may also be tools to create learning content.

LMS365 is a fully featured learning platform that integrates seamlessly into Microsoft 365. It is an additional product to a 365 license and not provided by Microsoft, but many teams tell us it feels like part of the 365 suite, and it is gets excellent reviews. With LMS365 installed, it means most of the barriers associated with learning are removed and employees can reach and discover learning via different tools such as Microsoft Teams. In fact, the integration is so seamless that employees may not realise they have left SharePoint. There Is also a good LMS365 mobile app.

LMS355 is also very good at supporting blended learning, as you can manage both classroom training enrolment and e-learning from the same catalogue.

Learning hubs and pages through SharePoint

The flexibility of building SharePoint sites and pages means you can create dedicated learning hubs that guide users towards all the learning opportunities available for them, and then also include links, resources and even embed feeds for example from a Yammer learning community to make it easier for users to take action such as enrol on a course. Blended learning programmes cover a range of options, so a learning hub based on SharePoint provides both an overview and a starting point for employees.

Typically, a learning hub might be integrated into a SharePoint intranet, but it could also be a standalone communication site or even team site. Some LMS365 clients also choose to build a learning hub as a seamless entry page into LMS365. Some learning hubs may also be dedicated to specific topics for example learning about how to use digital workplace tools.

Learning discovery though Microsoft Search

A major advantage of bringing learning resources into your Microsoft 365 digital workplace is that it means you can include learning within your Microsoft search. Here the results of blended learning including specific courses, a community or even a specific learning asset can be returned, making learning more discoverable though an intranet, Teams and SharePoint search.

Automation and enrolment on learning through Power Automate

Learning is an area where automation can help streamline the administration of learning, for example in registering users on to different courses and updating learning records. A platform like LMS365 will do some of the automation for you and here the ability to leverage AD groups in Azure is particularly useful for example in rolling out mandatory training for all managers. Within 365, Power Automate can help you to create other automated and custom flows that can support blended learning; these might include automatic enrolment into a particular Community of Practice, or automated reminders for people attending a course.

Learning analytics through Power BI

Analytics are important not only in measuring the effectiveness of learning, but also in administering mandatory training. While some products within your learning ecosystem will include handy analytics built-in (such as our Xoralia Policy Management tool), integration with Power BI means it is very straightforward to create bespoke learning dashboards and reports for learning administrators, managers and even senior leaders.

Communities of Practice through Yammer or Teams

Communities of Practice (CoP) dedicated to professional topics are a solution that can support the less structured and more social elements of blended learning by providing access to experts within the community, facilitating interaction and discussions, and sharing learning resources such as videos. The best tool to use for a CoP is Yammer particularly if a community is large – but it is also possible to use Teams, particularly if the community is a smaller and more focused.

Policies and mandatory reads through Xoralia

A blended learning programme and also the learning elements of an employee onboarding programme may require employees to read particular policies and documents. Here the mandatory reads capability within a tool like Xoralia can help keep track of which employees have read a page or document; the tool lets employees know they have something to read, asks for confirmation they have read it and then delivers reports to administrators to track progress. Xoralia is built for SharePoint so again integrates seamlessly with other 365 tools.

Learning events calendar via SharePoint or LiveTiles intranet

Blended learning programmes are likely to include learning events such as webinars. A central calendar of learning events can also be a good way to display upcoming opportunities for employees, particularly if it is available via the intranet. This can be achieved in different ways including using SharePoint calendars or using the event calendar functionality within a LiveTiles intranet. At Content Formula client RSSB, the latter is used to display learning events on the intranet homepage.

Frontline enablement through PowerApps, LiveTiles Reach or LMS365 app

Learning is also an important component in enabling frontline employees and delivering a good employee experience. Being able to access learning materials including training videos on a personal device is an excellent way to support wider learning, especially when it can be carried out a time convenient for that user. A variety of different options across Microsoft 365 can deliver learning to the frontline via mobile apps including custom PowerApps, LiveTiles Reach or the LMS365 app.

Social learning through LMS365 for Teams and Microsoft Viva Learning

More informal social learning and sharing is another component of blended learning. With Microsoft Teams usage so high, making sure employees can access learning through Teams and then have conversations about learning opportunities and resources can support blending learning. Here, LMS365 for Teams can make learning discoverable and allow peers to share learning resources within their discussion thread. Microsoft Viva Learning is also bringing learning into Teams, although this offering is still evolving, but we can expect this to play a major role going forward.

Blended learning through the digital workplace

Microsoft 365 provides excellent support for blended learning from LMS365 as a core learning platform through to Yammer-based Communities of Practice through to Power BI learning dashboards.

If you’d like to discuss how to support learning in your organisation and make sure it is in the flow of daily work, then get in touch!

Seven reasons why a SharePoint LMS will be your best option for learning

SharePoint is not traditionally viewed as a learning technology, but this is changing. There are now Learning Management Systems (LMS) and Learning Platforms available that are based on SharePoint, and can integrate seamlessly with your existing SharePoint and Microsoft 365 environment. The best SharePoint-based LMS on the market is LMS365, a solution that we implement with our clients, but there are a number of different products available. There are multiple reasons why an LMS must be part of any learning and development strategy, as they help to support a blended learning programme, put learners in control of their own learning and help to deliver remote learning in the current pandemic. But there are also additional features which make a SharePoint LMS likely to be the best option for your organisation. Lets explore seven reasons why a SharePoint LMS will bring more benefits than any other system.

1 Bringing learning into the flow of work

Most digital workplaces are built on Microsoft 365, and that invariably involves SharePoint. Microsoft 365 is the platform where work is truly happening, with many employees using Outlook, Microsoft Teams, Yammer, and SharePoint throughout the working day. When you seamlessly integrate a SharePoint LMS into your digital workplace, you can not only use AAD profiles to ensure single sign-on, but it also means you can leverage the familiarity of SharePoint Moderns design. With SharePoint, your LMS is truly embedded into the heart of your digital workplace, allowing learning to happen into the flow of work. It even gives you the ability to view learning material through a channel like Teams. Accessing learning through Microsoft 365 helps drive adoption by removing many of the barriers associated with a traditional, non-SharePoint LMS; if your LMS is on the periphery of the digital workplace, often with a different password and a different interface to a users network ID, the extra effort required to access it can damage the take up of learning.

2 Integrating with your SharePoint intranet

If you have Microsoft 365, it is likely that you will have a SharePoint intranet. Integrating your SharePoint intranet and your SharePoint LMS brings a number of advantages, including the ability to:
  • Create additional interfaces, views and entry points into learning content to drive value and support adoption
  • More easily promote learning via your key communications channel, for example, reminders to do mandatory training
  • Bring learning content into your intranet search so course material is more discoverable
  • Bring different content on a single topic together all in one place, such as SharePoint documents, course material and a Yammer group to form a one stop shop which could be used to create a portal for new starters
  • Bring intranet pages and assets into your learning course catalogue
  • Leverage the power of SharePoint lists to integrate into your learning.
Ultimately, a SharePoint LMS and intranet helps you to create content and experiences which will support both adoption and wider learning goals.

3 Using social channels for peer-to-peer recommendations

SharePoint commenting, Yammer, Microsoft Teams and even (arguably) Outlook-based email, are all social channels where conversations between employees happen. When you have a SharePoint LMS, it opens up the possibility for peers to recommend and link to courses and learning content using these social channels across the Microsoft suite. Social learning and peer-to-peer recommendations can help to drive the adoption of more formal learning material that you have on your SharePoint LMS; this can also be the exciting point where you start to create a bottom-up learning culture which can have multiple benefits for employees and organisations.

4 Using Azure Active Directory (AAD) profiles

Many organisations use Active Directory (AD) or Azure Active Directory (AAD) profiles to target content and messages to different groups based on location, role, division, place in the hierarchy and so on. For example, content targeting on a SharePoint intranet usually uses AAD profile data. SharePoints integration with AD & AAD means that a SharePoint LMS can effortlessly use profile data to target learning to different groups, and also underpin automated enrolment to various courses, one example being a course for sales staff. This can save learning administrators huge amounts of time, as well as help ensure learning is relevant across a diverse workforce.

5 Leveraging the power of SharePoint search

With a non-SharePoint LMS, the findability of learning content is usually restricted to searches made through a course catalogue. This limits the discoverability of learning material, and also leaves you to the mercy of the quality of the search tools within your LMS. With a SharePoint LMS, you can leverage the full power of SharePoint or Microsoft search; this makes your content far more discoverable, not only because of the superior search facility, but also because you can include learning content in more general topic searches on your intranet. This, again, brings learning directly into the flow of work and supports adoption efforts.

6 Integration with the rest of the Microsoft 365 suite

Because a SharePoint LMS can integrate with Microsoft 365, it means you can easily take advantage of the suites power to make it easier to manage your learning programme, while also creating a better experience for learners. For example, integrating a SharePoint LMS with Power BI means you can create exceptional learning dashboards to track progress and even bring in data from other systems. These dashboards are not necessarily just for learning teams – they may even be useful as a personal option for learners and their managers. You can also use Power Automate to create workflows around learning, for example, triggering bespoke registration for different new starters courses, or Outlook messages and calendar invitations when someone registers for a course. There are also exciting options to use PowerApps to create an app with a learning component which could be used to support employee onboarding. These kinds of opportunities are not always possible using a non-SharePoint LMS.

7 Future proofing

SharePoint and Microsoft 365 are not going to be disappearing any time soon. In fact, they are likely to be the dominant work platform for the next decade, and possibly beyond that. By investing in a SharePoint LMS, you are investing in an LMS that can evolve along with your digital workplace. Need to implement a SharePoint LMS? Get in touch! If you have Microsoft 365 or have a SharePoint intranet, then a SharePoint LMS is absolutely the way to go for your learning platform. If youd like more information about a SharePoint LMS, the LMS365 offering or your digital workplace, then get in touch!

Find out more about LMS365...

Request a call back with one of our experts, for a free consultation about how LMS365 can benefit your business.

Get in touch to discuss your project

Introducing LMS365, a Learning Management System for SharePoint, Teams and Office 365

Content Formula is excited to announce our new partnership with ELEARNINGFORCE, the creators of LMS365, a modern, cloud-based Learning Management System (LMS) based on Office 365. The partnership means we will be offering LMS365 to our clients, joining our offerings from Wizdom / LiveTiles as well as our bespoke Office 365 and SharePoint development and consultancy.

What is LMS365?

LMS365 is a mature, very well-designed SharePoint LMS that includes all the essential features of an LMS with the unique quality of being able to work seamlessly with Office 365. For any organisation building a digital workplace based on Office 365 and wanting to advance learning with an LMS, or a company simply seeking to replace a clunky LMS that feels out of the flow of daily work, then LMS365 is a compelling choice. A great product like LMS365 combined with the power of Office 365 is highly attractive.

The creators of LMS365 are ELEARNINGFORCE, a Danish company and Microsoft Gold Partner, with a close relationship with Microsoft spanning over a number of years. They are super smart people who are easy to work with, and were really looking forward to our partnership growing over the coming months.

What are the key features of LMS365?

LMS365 provides all the headline features of a mature LMS that youd expect such as SCORM compliant material, with great, intuitive interfaces both for users and admins, as well as seamless integration with your Office 365 environment.  Users can search through a course catalogue, enrol on courses (including classroom-based training), take online learning and access other resources. Meanwhile admins can auto-enrol people (super useful for compliance training) and closely monitor training and get the reporting they need. As you would expect, everyone also accesses LMS seamlessly via their Windows / Office 365 password (through Active Directory), so there are no awkward passwords to remember.

Lets look at the core features of LMS365  in more detail.

Personalised user dashboard with gamification elements

Many LMS have all the learning nuts and bolts you need but then fail on user experience. This is a strong point of LMS365 with an attractive, personalised  dashboard for users that includes gamification features (leader boards etc.), social learning elements and clear reporting of learning progress. There is also a dashboard for managers.
Strong reporting

LMS365 has flexible and detailed reporting (and analytics) to track learning progress by user, team or company, identify trends and get a real-time snapshot of usage. This is available onscreen as part of the product, but you can also create PowerBI dashboards and export some data to Excel.
Training plans

Course material can be arranged into training plans with prerequisites. In turn these training plans can be assigned to specific Microsoft Teams or Office 365 groups, leveraging the tight integration between LMS365 and Office 365.
A mobile app

There’s also a nice LMS365 mobile app so users can view learning material on the go. We particularly like how the app also provides offline access, so users can use the LMS on the commute home or in remote areas with poor connectivity, with results synchronized once back online.
Certificates and compliance-based training

Many organisations will have mandatory and compliance-based training requirements. This is fully supported by LMS365 with capabilities such as learning certificates, annual re-trainings, trackable confirmations, reminders, reporting and more.
Office 365 adoption material

Another interesting feature is that LMS365 have teamed up with content providers to supply Office 365 training material that can help drive adoption. Using an Office 365-based LMS to learn about Office 365 seems like a great idea!
Easy set-up

A real strength is the ease and speed of setting up LMS365. Because it is cloud-based and sits alongside Office 365 it really can be up and running in a day or so.
Integration with Office 365, MS Teams and beyond

The integration with Office 365 is an obvious strength of LMS365, so for example you can easily embed a display of personalized training on any SharePoint page and bring learning right into your intranet (be it a SharePoint or Wizdom intranet) to help drive adoption. There is also an attractive integration with Teams that allows learning to be delivered right into the flow of work. Here you can share course material in channels, use a special LMS365 bot to find individual training plans and courses, embed dashboards and more. There is also a modern API that means integration with other non-Office 365 systems such as your HR or ERP system is relatively straightforward.

SharePoint Office 365 Teams LMS LMS365

Key benefits

We believe all of the above adds up to a compelling learning proposition for any organisation, particularly for those companies on an Office 365 journey. Its why we’ve chosen to work with ELEARNINGFORCE.

The business benefits from any LMS include:

More knowledgeable workforce better equipped to carry out their role

Helps new starters get up to speed more quickly

Easy management of compliance-based training

More engaged workforce.

The benefits for an LMS like LMS365 include:

High adoption and easy access to learning material: An LMS that is in the daily flow of work and a core component of your digital workplace, accessible via AAD and easily integrated or reached from core Office 365 tools including a SharePoint Online intranet and MS Teams.

A highly versatile platform to suit all learning needs and styles: An LMS that handles online learning but also classroom based training, as well as different content types.

A mature, stable product with deep capabilities: A reliable platform with the elements you need such as good analytics and reporting, certification and more.

True learning for a mobile and frontline workforce: Anytime access in the cloud and a strong mobile app.

Strong user experience: Attractive and intuitive design, not always a given in an LMS

Strong admin experience: Very easy set-up and configuration plus some powerful tools to easily create courses and modules

Easy deployment: Quick and easy to launch.

Interested? Get in touch!

We’ve already had several clients very interested in what LMS365 has to offer and were excited about its potential too. If you’d like to discuss and see how LMS365 might be able to help you then get in touch to arrange a demo.

Find out more about LMS365...

Request a call back with one of our experts, for a free consultation about how LMS365 can benefit your business.

Get in touch to discuss your project

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