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I am a Learning Architect – is that even a thing?

This post has been updated on May 20, 2020.

Not long ago I struggled to label myself when I was asked that all-familiar question ‘What do you do?’

Mention ‘training’ and you’re seen as ‘the guy at the front of a classroom’. Mention ‘e-learning’ and you see the disappointment in people's eyes as they start to relate you to the boring online training they’ve been made to endure in the past.

Therefore I decided I needed to label myself in a way people would perceive as positive. To do this, I needed to do some investigation.

What are typical learning job roles?

I monitored the online job sites and found the following roles were regularly advertised for:

  • Instructional Designer
  • Instructional Developer
  • LMS Administrator
  • Trainer

I’ve performed all of these roles at various times in my career, but now I have a team that performs those functions for me. So what is it that I do? To label myself as a Manager would be very restrictive, as I typically provide consultancy alongside mentoring and managing my team.

Read more: How many types of mentoring are there?

What consultancy do I therefore provide clients?

Typically I am the first point of contact whenever a client inquires about training, and I always ask them three fundamental questions:

  • How do you / will you manage the training?
  • How do you / will you measure the training?
  • How do you / will you develop training?

These simple questions don’t have one-line answers. They all lead to further discussions. When hearing answers to these questions what has surprised me is the fact that most large corporations learning infrastructure is often underwhelming, and often very siloed with dozens of learning platforms, inconsistent development approaches, and of course very inefficient.

To be fair, the marketplace is littered with multiple solutions and many of these promises new ‘learning technology’ – all very shiny… And this is where the second question is important: How do you / will you measure training?

The measurement of training is rarely addressed. For example, there are some exciting immersive learning experiences being shopped around at the moment. But to spend over $100K on the development of a single training course is quite an ask... And I’m surprised by the lack of consideration on whether or not it is a good return on investment.

Read more: On measuring the impact of learning

This then naturally causes us to look at the third question: How do you / will you develop training? With so many different tools that can be used when designing and delivering a training program, which should you choose? Do you use one? Many? What are the benefits? Why would you choose one, over the other?

Finally, the decisions that are made then impact the long term success of your learning. Disappointingly, content maintenance is rarely considered, and yet has a major impact on the life of the learning content and subsequent costs.

I am a Learning Architect?

In the software world, Software Architects are required to know everything that is out there and everything in the organization. Their job is to build a roadmap that brings together the tools, platforms, and content into a form that is easy to use, scales and delivers a great user experience. Those who I’ve met who fulfill this role are ‘geeks’ and passionate about what they do.

In the Learning world, I don’t see anywhere the term Learning Architect. But if you have several thousand employees, you spend millions of dollars on training with unmanaged, unmeasured content being created daily, seeking out and investing in a Learning Architect will help ensure you create a clear vision, with a clearly defined roadmap, bringing together the learning tools, learning platforms, and learning content into a form that is easy to use, scales and delivers a great learner experience.

I am passionate about managed, measured, and effective learning, so when I am asked what I do, I am very pleased to be able to say ‘I am a Learning Architect.’

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