[A version of this article first appeared as part of the Telegraph/Business Reporter Human Capital campaign, in June, 2016.] 

Despite being in the middle of the Digital Information Age, educational and corporate learning facilities are failing to invest in appropriate human capital technologies and failing their learners in the process by relying on siloed legacy systems to manage and inform the design and delivery of learning experiences.

The solution is a simple one: connected ecosystems, driven by big data…

Elearning Today

Much of today’s corporate learning entails elearning of some description. You know it’s elearning because it looks like nothing else on the web. Where the web is fluid, intuitive and autonomous, e-learning is like a dull storybook, complete with pop-out characters telling learners what a good worker they have been for getting an obvious question right.

It is the product of a quest for efficient bureaucracy: shove as many people through some standard compliance course as quickly and cheaply as possible. But what workplaces of today need is not ‘standard people’ – what they need is ‘exceptional people’. And so instead of trying to standardise people to all be the same, learning should be inspiring people to think differently – which requires a one-size-fits-one approach.

To make this work, you have to know your goal and you have to know your history; what you want to do and what you’ve previously done. This is a data problem.

Right now, most organisations are not doing a very good job of capturing data on what workers are doing to improve their skills and knowledge. Too much emphasis is put on the learning management system (LMS) as the centre of organisational learning strategy.

But this piece is rarely the centre of actual learning. Rather, it is in the personal, social systems that we use day-to-day that learning and knowledge exchange takes place.

Enter: Big Data (and the xAPI)

Data in the context of human capital is being transformed by the introduction of a new approach known as the Experience API (xAPI). This approach makes it possible to capture every action a learner makes – whether it’s on a desktop computer, mobile phone, POS till or even an offline activity.

Using this data, organisations can power personal recommendations, track progress against goals and integrate with third-party systems like predictive analysis. The HR department can start tracking sentiment and semantic analysis of interactions that take place in social learning environments, such as Curatr.

Personalise The Learning Experience

By understanding the comprehension level displayed by learners in their discussion comments, tailored, personalised learning experiences can be created to help fill a knowledge gap or direct learners towards other areas of interest for them to broaden their understanding.

At HT2, we use our open source learning record store (LRS), Learning Locker, to unlock the xAPI approach to tracking human capital. We are already working with a number of leading organisations and global projects that utilise these principles, from the Jisc effective learning framework to corporate projects at InterContinental Hotel Group, Xerox and more.

These organisations are already able to call upon big learning data to help them make better decisions and to help personalise the learning experience.

Your Employees Are Your Future

With more than 75 million people unemployed across the globe and an equally pandemic skills crisis reported by businesses, it is time organisations started harnessing the power of today’s technology and investing in better human capital technologies and strategies that are proven to increase engagement in business strategy and drive business growth.

If you value your human capital as much as your employees do, prove it by putting them at the centre of it and utilising big data to make learning personal again.

Find out more about getting started with the Big Data and xAPI with our comprehensive paper, The Learning Technology Manager’s Guide to the xAPI.