Julius: Online Learning Ecosystem Strategy Development and Delivery Support for Associations

Posted on May 24, 2020

Overview:

Julius Education (www.JuliusEdu.com) provides organizations with employee digital learning and AI solutions.  Recently, we have helped several large associations develop “Learning Ecosystems” for their public facing courses, events, and conferences – combining existing training solutions with an end-to-end approach that spans industry career and skills maps, deep learning analytics and AI, and “full stack” online training solutions (e.g. technical, soft skills, and management and leadership courses, etc.).  This approach is especially beneficial for organizations dealing with the fallout from COVID-19:  converting existing “on ground” training solutions to online courses, replacing in person conferences and sales events with highly engaging online solutions, and addressing training needs heightened by COVID-19 (i.e. compliance, management, and new ways of working.)

Many of our clients have the need to develop their own Online Learning Ecosystem Strategy that captures how online learning capabilities – such as content, delivery, technology, analytics – come together to deliver on their business outcomes:

  • help drive engagement for members
  • deepen relationships across the industry
  • address critical industry skills gaps
  • and create new revenue opportunities, among other objectives. 

In our view, success in online learning depends upon marrying a: 1) “learning science approach” to online solutions that leads to compelling, engaging, and efficacious courses, with 2) a rigorous business plan that captures the addressable market, the right business models, the roadmap for learning solution development, and the resources needed for success. These include:

  1. Learning design: developing an overall organizational approach and design that engages participants, is based on learning science, and provides a rich overall learning experience. The principals at Julius have helped some of the world’s leading learning organizations – including large publishers such as Pearson, ‘mega’ online Tier 1 research universities such as Arizona State University, and online learning-centric Fortune 500 companies such as Humana – develop and deliver highly successful online courses.
  2. Business model development: online learning can create new business and economic models, such as moving from one-time course fees to subscription models, changing unit economics, increasing the number of feasible course participants, and changing patterns of content consumption. We have significant experience in developing business plans that help manage the “transition to digital” in learning organizations to help drive both the short- and long-term financial success of your organization.

Course development strategy:

Once an organization has developed an overall strategic direction, we often help them develop new online courses or migrate their existing “on ground” training online. To accomplish this, we apply of our online learning framework to evaluate and deliver on high quality and engaging learning experiences.  We will deliver a structured assessment of the three critical high-level phases of online course development (see Figure 1) for current and potential course offerings as well as third party and licensed courses.

Figure 1. Julius online learning approach

Across these three phases, we focus on the following questions and activities:

  1. Objectives: What do learners need to know or do at the end of the course / session? What skills should they have? What changed behavior should there be? Answering these questions develops the overall course architecture and module structure.
  2. Format: Select the best format for learning objectives, technology capabilities, and participant profiles and backgrounds. The format for each can be as simple as online documents or as complex as augmented reality simulations.
  3. Design:  Ensure all the components for online success – technology, course content, course presentation – come together on time and on budget.

Reviewing the specification of these phases, we can develop a roadmap that outlines development activities for immediate course delivery, those for subsequent course updates / iterations, and sources of leverage across phases. Specific delivery topics / dependencies that will be addressed include:

  • Technology
  • Content development strategy
  • Pedagogical approach
  • Course augmentations – simulations, interactives, etc.
  • Learner interactivity – forums, gamification, etc.
  • Instructor role and training
  • Accessibility and compliance
  • Learning analytics and engagement tracking
  • Course use and syndication
  • Alignment of course design to business models – course fee, freemium, subscription, etc.
  • Other topics as identified during the engagement

Outcomes:

Across this work, we help organizations with several major deliverables to develop and deploy a Learning Ecosystem approach:

  1. An overall guide to online course development that captures best practices and define an organization specific approach to key online training issues.
  2. Online learning business projections based on scenarios spanning: membership assumptions; course utilization rates; content topics, breadth, and depth; and business models and pricing, among other factors. This can provide associations with a 3-year business plan (or forward visibility as required) on online training revenue and profitability to help support execution plans and align efforts to the size of the opportunity.
  3. Staff and board engagement plans tosocialize key strategic topics and choices, solicit ideas for high priority learning areas, provide a venue for feedback on potential learning solution designs and delivery roadmaps, and help determine next steps and execution plans across the organization.
  4. A functional review of the required assets and capabilities for successful course delivery covering those bulleted in the Julius course and learning assessment framework section. This will enable a fit / gap analysis of existing organizational resources to develop and deliver on the required learning experience roadmap.

Please contact us to learn more how we can help you develop your own Online Learning Ecosystem approach.