Learning & Development

Getting started with your first learning platform

First learning platform

We often speak to businesses who are considering taking their first foray into online learning. Maybe they’ve always opted for face-to-face training but now need a way to support remote teams, or perhaps they’ve just reached a stage of growth where learning needs to become a bigger priority.

Wherever you are in your learning journey, we know that it can be daunting getting started with your first learning platform… but the good news is that you’re making a great decision, and despite what some vendors may imply, it’s much easier than you may think to make the switch!

If this sounds like you, you’re not alone. We’ve seen and heard it all before, so we like to think we know a thing or two about introducing your first-ever learning platform to your company. Let’s get started!


Choosing the right learning platform

There are hundreds of learning platforms on the market right now - over 420, according to RedThread Research. How on earth does any learning professional choose which of these 420+ platforms is right for their organisation? And how do you avoid FOMO when you realise your platform doesn’t have all of the 1,000+ features available on some of the biggest systems on the market? 

Three things to look for

The secret to choosing your first platform is to start simple. Nobody (and we really mean nobody) uses every single feature in their learning platform. If you’re not going to use it, you don’t need it - it’ll just distract you from your goals, so prioritise platforms that have everything you need and nothing you don’t. If you’re going from no learning platform to one of the industry giants, you’ll quickly get overwhelmed and not know where to start.

Instead, look for a platform that is easy to use - that means for your learning team and your employees. It should only take a couple of clicks to get to what you need, whether that’s generating a report, accessing relevant learning or adding a new user. The easier to use, the better when it comes to getting buy-in from both learners and platform administrators. 

Finally, be realistic about your budget, and opt for a cost-effective learning platform. If you’re just starting out, you don’t want to commit to a giant, expensive platform - especially as you probably don’t need one straight off the bat. Keep your first platform small and manageable, and you can always scale up your investment once you’ve found your feet.


Keep it simple

Feature-rich platforms hold a lot of allure for learning professionals, but when you’re just starting out, what functionality do you really need? For the most part, you need a way to upload, manage and organise content, manage users and report on learning platform activity. At this point, most other features are nice to have, not essential. Do you need holograms, metaverse access and VR support right now, or do they just sound interesting? If it’s the latter (spoiler alert: it is), put them on your future wishlist, and stick to the basics done well right now.

The world of work changes fast these days, and you need a platform that can keep up. Companies like Greystar opted for a focused, nimble platform that would pivot with them, helping them keep up with internal and external change. Think of it as the difference between turning a canoe and a cruise ship - one changes direction with ease, the other takes much more time and effort to steer in the right direction. It’s the same with learning platforms - the simpler the better when it comes to dealing with change.

Choosing a streamlined platform helps you stay laser focused on the features you have, ensuring you can master your system with relative ease. Your learning team doesn't need to learn to use hundreds of features they will never touch, and you can simply get in, configure what you need and start using it.

After all, why make things more complex than they need to be?


Choosing and organising your content

Even if you’ve never had a learning platform before, it’s likely you have some existing learning content. Some will be useful, some won’t - what matters is that you cast a critical eye over what you have right now and what you’ll bring over to your new learning platform.

One of the easiest ways to organise your learning content is with playlists. Your learning team (or even individual team managers) can build playlists of content relevant to each team, department or functional area, so nobody needs to go hunting around the platform to find what they need.

If you identify any gaps in your digital content, think about whether you want to buy off-the-shelf content (particularly for soft skills, leadership or health and safety topics) or build your own in-house (for company-specific processes and knowledge). Our advice is to build strong foundations with off-the-shelf content and to add custom content over time, but your specific content mix and timeline will depend on your specific learning and business needs.

Want to start off strong? We’ve done the hard work for you - get started with a ready-made platform within a week with 5app Plug and Play.


Securing long-lasting success

Once you have your new learning platform in place, it’s time to think about how you can encourage people to incorporate it into their everyday routines (spoiler alert: this almost certainly won’t happen organically). 

Ensure that you as the learning team are actually using the learning platform - that could mean drip-feeding new content regularly, especially in the first few months post-launch, to show employees that they need to check back often to find out what’s new. 

Additionally, consider combining learning and comms in the same platform. Encourage your C-suite and leadership team to send out company updates and important comms from your platform to make it the go-to place for all learning and comms resources. That way, your platform will be the first place people go to see what the CEO has to say, any important industry news or the content they need to perform their jobs effectively. Hemsley Fraser’s CEO Lynsey Whitmarsh shares her thoughts on this below:


Finally, keep an eye on those all-important numbers! Your platform will provide you with a rich source of learning analytics, and it really pays to check on how your platform is performing against your learning (and business) goals so you can iterate on your solution over time and prove ROI to your key stakeholders.

Get your new learning platform this week!

Our all-new Plug and Play solution is the quickest, easiest and most cost-effective way to get up and running with a learning platform. Interested? Take a look here.



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