The XaaS model, which refers to “anything”-as-a-service, has become a hot topic in the technology services industry. In response to this growing trend, education service providers are starting to develop learning-as-a-service (LaaS) offers that include cloud-based tools, providing customers with even more accessibility to education resources that benefit learners and educators alike. Here are some things to keep in mind to help you get started in creating your own LaaS offering.
What is Learning-as-a-Service (LaaS)?
Learning-as-a-service (LaaS) is a cloud-based subscription offer that is centrally hosted, and includes both individual and collaborative learning opportunities. Learners can progress at their own pace from anywhere, and have remote access to hands-on activities, either in a virtual lab or simulated environments. This enables learners to apply what they’ve been taught in a practical way, reinforcing learning concepts.
The Benefits of LaaS
One of the biggest challenges education services is facing is the growing demand for remote-access to content. (Tweet this!) Education organizations need a more cost-effective, scalable, and accessible way to build and keep customers’ skills up to date, year-round. That is something that classroom and onsite training can’t always provide.
LaaS offerings provide a more flexible learning schedule with material that is easy to consume and can be accessed from anywhere. (Tweet this!) With no need to provide a physical location, LaaS cuts overhead costs for education organizations and provides greater value for customers by reducing the financial impact to their business. Additionally, LaaS provides learners the ability to refresh their knowledge whenever needed, by removing many of the typical barriers to training.
The 5 Components of a Successful LaaS Offer
Now that we’ve covered the benefits of LaaS, let’s talk about what makes a LaaS offer successful. The ideal LaaS offer consists of five components, or some combination of the five: (Tweet this!)
- Read It: Written material describing concepts and/or task completion.
- See It: Video training demonstrating a concept and/or how a task is completed.
- Hear It: Audio training describing concepts and/or task completion.
- Do It: Hands-on lab work where learners apply concepts.
- Discuss It: Social learning where learners collaborate and discuss concepts with peers and instructors or experts.
While Read It, See It, Hear It, and Do It might seem obvious, the item on this list that is often overlooked in an online environment is Discuss It.
The Importance of the Human Component
There’s a common misconception that the terms “e-Learning” and “learning-as-a-service” are interchangeable, but one of the key differences between the two is the social aspect. Studies in academia are showing that when learning is totally self-driven and self-paced, the success rate is low, as evidenced in the high dropout rates for massively open online courses (MOOCs). However, success rates improve when a learner has the opportunity to interface, in real-time, with an instructor, a resident expert, another learner, or a group of learners, either in a chat format, a live virtual discussion, via a webcast, a one-on-one instructor/expert conversation set-up using “office hours”, or using some combination of all of the above options.
Once these five components are implemented, the final key is to measure the learner’s progress and results. Including an assessment capability within a LaaS offer is important because it enables learners to successfully advance their education in a way that’s meaningful to their target goal. These measurements can take various forms, from tracking completion progress through a course, testing to assess learning, and/or monitoring lab work to gauge ability to practically apply concepts. Results from these various forms of assessment enables learners to build a learning roadmap suited to their unique understanding of the content.
A Real World Success Story
In my recent webinar interview with Jan Meyer, Global VP of Business Development for SAP Education, we discussed SAP's process for developing its award winning LaaS platform, Learning Hub. To help you get started on your own journey toward implementing LaaS, here are the key objectives that Jan mentioned: (Tweet this!)
- Available Any Time: Accessible at the point of need, on-demand, and year round.
- Mobile: Works with various mobile devices for on-the-go access.
- Learner-Centric: Conveniently available to learners whenever they need it.
- Multimodal: Includes handbooks and multimedia content, training systems for hands-on practice, and social learning collaboration with peers and SAP instructors.
- Company-Specific: Customizable to company-specific processes and allows for enterprise-wide learning program management.
Watch my On-Demand webinar, “Learning-as-a-Service: A Deep Dive interview with SAP” to learn more about what makes the Learning Hub successful, as well as a step-by-step list of how it went from concept to a real, successful LaaS offer.
Does your company offer LaaS? Are you thinking about it, but still have some questions? Feel free to leave a comment below or contact me directly to discuss the exciting new opportunity cloud-based services is bringing to the education field.
About the Author
Maria Manning-Chapman is vice president of research, Education Services, for TSIA. She has more than 25 years of education experience in the high-technology industry. Maria is well versed in the dynamics of running an education services business and has held leadership positions in operations, virtual learning, business development, curriculum development, delivery, and partner management over the course of her career.