Five key elements of building an award-winning learning platform

Learning and development / Learning experience platform
Sarah Kilian
By Sarah Kilian | 10th February 2019

While 91% of learning and development teams want to improve productivity and engagement, it’s a sad fact that only 29% achieve this*.

In this article, I reflect on our award-winning** collaboration with industry leaders – O2 – and how they did achieve with O2 Campus: a next generation corporate University. Here’s my take on the top five contributors to the success of this project:

  1. Put the learners (not the platform) first

If you’re thinking platform-first, then you’ve perhaps already lost. Really ask yourself – and more importantly your target audience – throughout the project: ‘is this a fantastic user-experience?’

Demonstrate your commitment to employee development; treat them as well as you treat your customers. They are your influence, your guide, and if you can’t sell learning to them, then you potentially have some very high attrition or poor performance costs to contend with.

Embrace how people engage with platforms and collaborate online in their personal lives, then harness the trends in learning; Artificial Intelligence, personalisation, user-generated content and a data-orientated approach are playing increasingly important roles. Just because you understand how to navigate the maze of great stuff you’ve built, doesn’t mean everyone else does – or more importantly wants to.

  1. Inclusive and continuous

Engage a wide stakeholder group to excite the board in your solution and gain strategic buy-in. Yes, this will put you under greater scrutiny but you’re aiming for success – right? A learning platform should underpin your people strategy and not be just a tick in the box.

Make the learning accessible to everyone on demand. No-one is waiting for the Sunday omnibus of their favourite TV show or venturing to their local library to research a subject anymore! Easy access is more of a right than an expectation, so it’s important to consider how you could apply this to the design.

Enable line managers to be part of their people’s development, your platform should be a core resource for them to excite, develop, inspire and retain; as well as for their own personal growth.

Map out the full learner journey but recognise that the journey doesn’t end when you’ve launched the platform. If you’re not enticing people back for more and keeping up with online trends, your fantastic post-launch engagement results may just taper off into insignificance. Create a space where learners have fun, get involved and harness their vital knowledge, opinion and expectations to be part of the ongoing evolution of the learning experience.

  1. A consistent framework for learning

Don’t necessarily throw out everything you’ve got: upcycle! No one system can possibly provide you with all the content and functionality that your learners will ever need. But, with a single, unified learning experience, you can create a one-stop-shop for learners and maximise your other system and content investments.  Integrate and blend your content with other providers’ content to create a comprehensive, flexible and personalised experience for employees via one single, intuitive and familiar access point.

Follow O2’s example and strive to create a space where people connect, learn and grow. Where employees gain new skills and knowledge – and share these with peers. O2 Campus is a great example of achieving this, while maintaining a consistent user experience, as well as tailoring that experience to meet the needs of diverse and dispersed audience groups.

  1. Work with people you can trust

Innovative ideas are only successful through effective implementation. Work with people that you can trust; not just those that say yes to you! Choose a partner that understands and shares your passion and enthusiasm and is committed to bringing your vision to life.

It’s likely you’ll be collaborating closely with your chosen partner – not just to launch date, but for many years to come (that is if you’re serious about continuously evolving your platform for the long-term). So why not make it fun, collaborative and two-way?

Open dialogue is key to overcoming challenges; the right partner will be attuned to your needs and help you to get the right things done. Build times are always tight, technical challenges always crop up, so choose someone who is flexible and adept at overcoming issues: not one that will convince you they’ll never happen.

  1. Know what success looks like

I would say work with the end in mind but as I’ve already said there is no end! Instead, think about your launch as well as post-implementation goals. What will be happening three months, six months and 12 months after launch? Be crystal clear about what issues you’re trying to solve and the commercial value of what you’re delivering.

A people-first approach to learning, underpinned by the right platform, can be an asset in attracting new talent. The business impact could be considerable, so be clear from the outset what metrics you’ll measure. Becoming an employer of choice where everyone, regardless of role and function, is achieving their potential and staying longer is an admirable dream, but what does that really look like?

Keep learning: there are endless possibilities for enhancing the learning platform and demonstrating ongoing return on investment.

If you’d like to find out more about this project, please get in touch with me or contact us via

* 2015-16 Industry Benchmark Report from Towards Maturity

**TWM and O2 won Silver at the Learning Awards, in the People Development Programme of the Year category. The awards celebrate best practice, innovation and excellence in learning and development. Proof that putting the employee at the heart of your learning platform achieves great engagement.

Sarah is our Client Director and is responsible for existing accounts. She has worked in learning and development for 14 years; drawing on her depth of experience and insights from customers to implement and evolve learning portals that align with business needs. Sarah is passionate about helping customers to maximise their budgets and deliver against the people agenda to show the true worth of learning and development teams.


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