Microsoft Viva Learning Module: Lifelong Learning Made Accessible

It is not breaking news that the work world is shifting. Whether you work behind a desk or a machine, at home or in an office, what work looks like and the skills you need to thrive are changing rapidly. Viva Learning (part of Microsoft’s entire Viva platform), aims to reduce the friction of the learning process by bringing learning into Teams. The Learning App in Teams will provide users with a smorgasbord of individually tailored learning.

Challenges of up-and reskilling

Even before the pandemic, in-person graduate degrees, certification programs, and even short courses require a level of commitment and intentionality. Either an employee had to take time off from work or try to fit courses into and around the workday.

While online learning has been growing steadily over the last ten years, it is not a perfect solution either. With such a profusion of vetted and unvetted resources, it is difficult to chart a viable learning path. And even if we do buckle down and watch that video or click our way through that module, most online learning opportunities don’t provide the human experience of learning alongside other people and from a guide or mentor.

Learning on the job

In Microsoft’s words, the Viva Learning module is “a central hub for learning where people can discover, share, assign, and learn from best-in-class content libraries across the organization—including LinkedIn Learning; Microsoft Learn; third-party content providers like Skillsoft, Coursera, Edx, and Pluralsight; and an organization’s own custom content—to help teams and individuals to make learning a natural part of their day.”

Your tab for learning

When Viva Learning comes online later this year (it’s currently in private beta), it will appear as an app in the left-hand sidebar (it can also show as a tab within a channel, but more on that below). Clicking on the app brings users to personalized dashboards with tiles for different learning opportunities.

Each tile will represent course or resource targeted to each user, so they see the options best suited for their role and work they do. Viva pulls these resources not only from internal training documents and resources but also third-party platforms like LinkedIn Learning, Coursera, Edx and more.

Customized learning labs can also be added to individual Teams and groups as well. This provides the power to create group learning spaces as well as personalized, individual ones.

Teacher for a day

As a former classroom teacher, I can see the value of finding and sharing resources and information to help improve a process or solve a problem — particularly with newer and less experienced colleagues. Indeed, creating a learning culture in our organizations may be one of the most rewarding and important things we do as colleagues and managers.

With Learning, this process is streamlined and structured. Within any team message or chat, end users can search for and easily reference a specific learning opportunity. When users learn something through a resource, they can quickly and easily recommend it to their colleagues. When managers see their employees struggle with an issue or skill, they can recommend targeted and meaningful resources in chat.

In addition, from their own dashboards, managers can assign learning and check in on status. Once a learning opportunity is completed, managers can see the progress and use the moment for a discussion.

Learning in my own time

Employees are able to complete learning in their own time, either in the context of their daily workflow or as a break from it. This actually bears repeating. Employees can learn during the flow of their daily work, in Teams, where they are doing the work. Research shows learning presented in the context of application is that much more effective. LinkedIn Learning showed that 49% of employees prefer to learn “at the point of need.”

If paired with good discussions with instructors, colleagues, and managers, Viva Learning can facilitate true professional development. It removes the steps it takes to get to the learning while incorporating the human element of learning that makes it so powerful.

Remote learning made real

This past year, I watched my sons (both college students) and many of their friends (and my friends’ kids, etc.) struggle to shift to a fully online style of learning. For some, this may even be the preferred style of learning. But for most of us, including workers of all types, traditional learning happened in classrooms and conference rooms.

With Viva Learning, employees will see more opportunities to broaden their thinking, learn new skills, or gain valuable expertise. To be sure, these opportunities existed well before Viva. LinkedIn Learning, Edx, Coursera, and others have been growing exponentially for years. But Viva Learning may facilitate that human element, the wrap-around, to truly make it stick.

The real business value

Education is always a noble cause. For businesses, it is a strategic and valuable keystone to their success. While 79% of employees want more learning at work, only 37% of those are satisfied with the training and learning opportunities their employers offer them, according to CMS Wire. LinkedIn Learning found that 94% of employees would stay at a company longer if it invested in their career development.

There is a bigger message here too. I agree with Asif Rehmani about Viva Learning promoting a “true learning culture.” An organization that provides and supports learning – both of individual skills and larger skillsets like creativity – will be better suited to meet the challenges of a rapidly changing world.

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