The term “ecosystem” is not chosen at random because, as in nature, it is the interdependence and complex relationships between the different components that interest us here. In a learning ecosystem, there are different individuals in different functions who interact with different tools, content or individuals in different contexts and it is the sum of all this that makes up a learning ecosystem.

We will see that when it comes to managing complex ecosystems, learning has its share of specificities. If, as in nature, a small change in an ecosystem can have big repercussions, this is true in both directions. Beyond the strict analysis of the ecosystem components, a holistic framework to rationalize them is needed if we want to truly talk about an ecosystem.

What are they ? 🤔

Within a company, a learning ecosystem is an interdependent and interconnected system of individuals, groups of individuals, content, technology, culture and governance with a consolidated data architecture that aims to address these different components in a holistic way.

Increased complexity specific to Learning 🔓

The first “artificial” ecosystems are far from new. Complex ecosystems covering different stakeholders, gathering different technologies and using data to optimize the ecosystem not only exist but thrive thanks to the synergies they create. Just like social networks, video platforms or others… the “ecosystem” approach has enabled a lot of innovation and value building. Learning, however, has its own specificities.

Multiple formats and modalities, scattered

The learning landscape has expanded to encompass the entire spectrum of formal, informal, experiential learning and training.

While other “artificial” ecosystems (such as video platforms or social networks for example) manage to be very relevant, as evidenced by their “time spent” and engagement metrics, they do not have to make sense of the same variety of content and modality as in Learning. Moreover, the content is also specific to the ecosystem, whereas for learning, all the content relevant to the learner and the company is often scattered in different systems that do not communicate or communicate poorly with each other.

Relevance of skills

In an ecosystem, the competency framework is particularly important. Competencies give meaning to learning. It is through competencies that objectives can be aligned and progress can be measured. However, the concept of competency is still relatively abstract and there is no definitive model to encapsulate everything. Where other ecosystems may be relevant with a “simple” keyword system, Learning would be hard pressed to make do with it.

The components of a learning ecosystem🦾

Individuals, groups and Learning Culture

The individuals who make up the organization are one of the key components of a learning ecosystem. They are the first step in bringing about change. There are different types of individuals. It is important to note that they are all learners first and foremost, but they can also wear the hat of manager, director, business expert, trainer or other, which will have an impact on their place in the ecosystem.

Beyond the sum of the individuals that make up the ecosystem, teams, communities, networking activities or other types of groups also have a role to play in the ecosystem. Formalizing these groups of individuals or learners is also a good way to enrich the ecosystem.

The company assigns us job titles and they are “formal” but our roles evolve over time and become more and more abstract. Sometimes we can bring specific skills, resources or expertise, other times we bring a challenge, project or other practical development opportunity, and other times we are coaches or mentors.

Individuals and the groups they form contribute greatly to the development of a learning culture that is essential to the proper functioning of an ecosystem. Sharing, experimenting, and the willingness to continuously develop are truly the essence that drives the ecosystem.

When considering the place of individual and group culture, it is good to remember that not everyone has to interact with the ecosystem in the same way. It is good for people to play diverse roles.


In a learning ecosystem, content comes in many different formats. It can be formal educational content, such as a series of e-learning modules or a classroom training. It can also be informal moments, such as articles read, podcasts listened to or videos seen on a daily basis, exchanges with a manager, a subject-matter expert or other employees.


Almost every component of a learning ecosystem is influenced by technology. It influences what is learned, how it is learned and the devices or platforms on which it is learned. This allows employees to access a variety of learning modalities and interact with content in the way that best suits them and their unique learning needs. The technology must also be able to capture learning beyond what is traditionally done. It must be able to create, collect, transmit, process and store information at scale.

Strategy and governance

The company has precise objectives (e.g., in terms of available skills) and makes decisions taking into account all the components of the learning ecosystem that are geared towards achieving the organization’s strategic objectives. This includes creating a supportive learning environment that is aligned with the company’s mission, vision and strategy.


In an ecosystem logic, the data architecture is shared. The data is thus structured and enriched by the different systems. This data can be used for learning analytics purposes or used by artificial intelligence algorithms to facilitate the use of the ecosystem. From these elements, organizations can build an infinite number of dynamic solutions to develop and employ individuals, and to optimize their ecosystems.

The ecosystem in support of pedagogy 🧙

The learning ecosystem is changing the management and processing of learner data across systems, communities and time. As analytics capabilities evolve, they will drive change. First by better understanding how learners develop over longer periods of time by improving the ability of L&D departments to make instruction more active and adaptive. Second, by recommending learning experiences and pathways designed to meet the needs of learners. However, new technologies do not improve learning if they are applied without purpose or a measurement framework.

As learning opportunities become increasingly accessible – on-demand, anywhere, anytime, and throughout life – learners experience learning either as something that lacks substance and meaning or as episodic waves of activities that could almost be described as “undergone.” The challenge, then, is to help learners filter through the data noise, focus on relevant information, and meaningfully connect new learning to past experiences.

A learning ecosystem therefore covers modalities such as social learning, competence-based learning, continuous learning, self-directed learning…

An ecosystem that speaks the same language: interoperability 🔑

In order to allow different systems to communicate and thus build a true ecosystem, there is a series of open standards and tools.

They define protocols and lay the foundation for making digital applications more functional and interoperable. They streamline product development and eliminate vendor-imposed limitations on reading or writing data files by improving data exchange and transfer.

Most relevant to the learning ecosystem are:

  • The xAPI reporting standard, which has the advantage of being able to capture far more varied learning moments than SCORM
  • The Learning Record Store (LRS) which allows data to be stored in xAPI format from any source.

Interoperability will facilitate the consolidation of data throughout the learning process. The analysis of this data will then allow learners to optimize their learning journey through their various learning moments throughout their career and ultimately throughout their lives; all based on common goals with the company (or not just for that matter).

This data, combined with the science of human capital management, could also help organizations achieve their strategic talent management objectives, including needs planning, internal mobility, retention and knowledge sharing.

Example of a corporate learning ecosystem 🏢

A well-constructed enterprise learning ecosystem might look like this.

Learning ecosystem

It includes the following:

  • A data architecture based on LRS and xAPI
  • All the content and learning moments relevant to the various stakeholders
  • A collaborative and peer-to-peer learning dimension
  • A technology layer to enhance the experience within the ecosystem
  • Easy access to the ecosystem and consistent content delivery
  • Integration with other HR bricks for data enrichment purposes

In short

Learning ecosystems are evolving rapidly. Learning is no longer a simple interaction between learner, teacher and content. They have become complex mechanisms that have the potential to optimize learning and by extension, improve business performance.

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