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Need Learning Paths? Top 5 Steps to Success

Blog posts | 07.10.2021


Shaping the future of learning

You can ease the administrative requirements of employee training by creating role-specific learning paths.

  • Learning paths provide a roadmap of goal-specific training and milestones that help build learner confidence.

  • Learning paths provide a clear route for the learner to follow to achieve: Specific goals or objectives, without redundant or unnecessary content that stifles motivation.
  • Finally, with learning paths, the learner can take ownership of their learning and know what is expected of them before training begins.

Before setting up your first learning path, let’s look at the journey learning will take. Dr. Will Thalheimer defines this as the Learning Landscape, where the learning progresses from learning to remembering to doing. How well learning is achieved can be measured both by what the learner gets out of the training and how that training applies to their role in the organisation. On-the-job learning, job aids, or support from peers and management can also reinforce employee performance. But before it can be measured, it has to be created.

 This is where learning paths come in. As the name suggests, they are structured, step-by-step strategies toward specific training goals. They are created to teach employees job-related skills and are usually broken down into bite-size chunks to make it easy to fit training between regular job tasks.


5 Key Steps To Create a Learning Path

Have we convinced you of the value of learning paths?  Ready to give it a go?  Try these five key steps to outline a clearer route to learner comprehension and training success as the path is defined.


1.      Start with the end in mind

What does a successful learning path look like? How does the learner know they are successful once it is completed? Ask yourself: what is the problem being solved? In order to create a successful learning path, it’s important to know where the learner will end up. There should be a desired outcome in mind; a definition of success when completed. This can be modeled after existing company roles, but it is important to focus on what will be accomplished at the end of the learning path. That objective starts with answering some important questions:

  • Why is this learning necessary?

  • What is the problem that needs to be corrected?

  • What does success look like?

If these answers aren’t clear, it’s possible that the goal of the learning path won’t be either.


2.      Put your audience at the center of your design

The point of training is to instill or reinforce good practices, to halt or change poor ones, or update previously understood information. In order to do this effectively, have a specific audience in mind. One-size-fits-all is ineffective for training. Good training should address the learner at their level. For example, a veteran employee has a wealth of on-the-job experience and does not need the same novice-level training as a new hire.

A great way to keep the audience in focus is with personas. In essence, it’s a character that represents a particular audience. Personas should include:

  • Demographics: Age, gender, job, location

  • Background: Experience, education, work habits

  • Work environment: Are they in a noisy office? Working from home? On the road?

  • Tech exposure: What technology do they use? How experienced are they with it?

  • Attitude: How do they respond to training requirements?

  • Experience: Anecdotes of best and worst learning experiences.

While building this persona and getting a more specific idea of who the learner is, also consider who they are in context of the training being developed:

  • Why do they need training?

  • What will they specifically want from it?

  • What is their current skill level?

  • What is their motivation for completing training?

  • Are there any pain points to consider?


As training is developed, return to the persona, and ask whether or not the training is meeting learner needs. If not, figure out why, and what can be done to correct it.


3.      Make it about actions

With a training goal and an audience in mind, the next step is to identify learner outcomes. What do learners need to be able to DO for training to be successful? The answers can be better identified through Situation Mapping:

  1. Identify the relevant actions needed to achieve the business goal(s)

  2. Assess why the audience isn’t taking these actions today. Is it absence of knowledge, a need to practice or something else entirely?

  3. Brainstorm how to meet these needs with the training.  Or if you can’t -- that’s important too!


This process should be repeated for each persona that needs training. This creates a clearer understanding of what each role needs to succeed. It will also begin to define separate learning paths for each of your roles.


4.      Project Requirements/Constraints

Before fully designing the learning path, consider elements that affect the design:

  • Does the role use technology that can be utilised in training? Is the role limited to specific technology that would limit training elements?

  • Does technology exist that is not being utilised now? Will it be used in the future? Would training benefit from addressing this technology now?

  • Do previous training materials exist currently? Can they be reviewed for consideration?

  • Who will be the SME for content that needs to be created?

  • Are there any learning gaps not addressed by internal resources? Are there external resources that might address learning better than internal content?

  • Will there be an assessment? Certification? Plans for repeat training/compliance?


Answering these questions before the design is fleshed out will spare future headaches and help shape the training as it develops.


5.      Visualise the Experience

There is no single way to approach training design. Development for one learning path may be very different from another, as the goals and requirements will change. Start with a macro view of the learning path – what pieces make up the path? How do they connect in order to help the learner accomplish their goal? Then tackle each piece in the path until all content has been addressed. Look at the path again and consider some or all of the following:

  • Are there places where learners can be better engaged?

  • Are “stop gaps” provided for learners to pause, reflect, and absorb the learning?

  • Is context given for learners to understand the training as it applies to their job?

  • Are learners given a chance to apply their knowledge?

  • How will learning be reinforced to help it stick?


Answering these questions will help address learner needs throughout their journey and provide resources to assist them after training is complete.


Remember: learning path organisation is not arbitrary

Training should be organised in a logical sequence that best supports the goals of training. Consider additional content or supporting resources that can reinforce the training. Perhaps prerequisites might benefit the learner before starting on the learning path? The learning path could also be a prerequisite for other specialty training. Remember that in setting goals for training, the goals and expectations not only exist to guide the learner, but to guide the training as well.

It is important not to limit the training to content contained within the LMS. While it’s beneficial to have everything contained in a single space for learners, the LMS may be limited in its capacity to address the best ways to train on specific topics.


Consider the wealth of content available for training:

  • LXP content: Do learners have access to an LXP? Can a channel or playlist be set up with additional content that supports the training?

  • Employee-shared content: Every company has employees with a wealth of on-the-job experience – utilise them. Provide them a space to share their experience. The space does not have to be digital. Face-to-face opportunities also encourage team building and help prevent burnout.

  • On-the-job learning: employees need opportunities to apply what they’ve learned. Allow learners space to practice what they learn in the work environment so training can move from short term memory to practical experience.

  • Coaching: Pairing learners with experienced employees can help address unanticipated learning gaps. This provides a space for learners to ask questions and for coaches to share their knowledge.

  • Performance support: Take things a step beyond training by providing training context directly to the employee’s role. This specific type of support addresses the business issues directly, identifying how training will solve business issues, tying training clearly to business needs.


Finally, it may be necessary to assess how well learners are accomplishing their goals. This is a good way to gauge whether learners understand the training provided to them. This also provides opportunities to unlock new content and learning paths. Rather than “pass-fail” assessments, consider providing opportunities based on learner comprehension. Where learners are struggling, supply new training content to assist underperformance. Based on specific learning criteria, new training paths may also be unlocked to allow advanced or specialised training, further engaging employees and allowing them to pursue new possibilities in their role.


Shaping the future of learning

Kineo helps the world’s leading businesses improve performance through learning and technology. We’re proud of our reputation for being flexible and innovative, and of our award-winning work with clients across the world.

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