Diving Into Skills Development And Tech Implementation With John Hinchliffe
John Hinchliffe is the Head of Engagement at Jam Pan and the founder of the Global Learning and Development Community. In addition to being an internationally recognized award-winning digital learning expert, he brings over 13 years of experience in the industry. He has a proven record of connecting digital learning needs with the right experts. Today, he shares his thoughts about making the most of learning platforms and offers words of wisdom to new eLearning pros.
Is there a common misconception that you believe prevents organizations from fully leveraging eLearning solutions/software?
The biggest misconception that I see is organizations purchasing a new platform and thinking that they don’t need to do anything further for it to be a success, but in truth, the purchasing and implementation of a new platform is only 10% of the overall solution.
We see it time and time again where an organization will go to an exhibition to find a solution to meet their L&D needs, purchase a new platform with multiple functions, not maximising this, and be back two years later to purchase a new platform as the previous platform “didn’t work.”
At Jam Pan, we know all too well that to have a successful platform you need to have a plan of how you will maintain and maximise it, strategies for engaging your learners, as well as implementing good housekeeping throughout its existence, which is why we have created a whole division internally dedicated to providing this as a service for clients.
Being able to immediately provide clients with a team that knows firsthand how your platform works and how it can be maintained for success allows you to focus on the wider positive impact of learning initiatives whilst being safe in the knowledge that the platform is set up to effectively support you.
What is one of your biggest eLearning client success stories?
Here at Jam Pan, we’re entrusted by our enterprise clients with critical projects, and one of our most recent success stories focuses on the migration of a multinational organization’s learning proposition from a legacy SharePoint site to a new Degreed LXP, which impacted over 200,000 employees worldwide.
Until now, our client had used SharePoint to communicate with learners and share learning content. As such, SharePoint was home to tonnes of valuable learning content which needed to be migrated to Degreed. But this migration was more than a “lift and shift.” Instead, our client saw this as the perfect opportunity to assess, review, and rebrand their content. (A great decision, if you ask us!) But with a launch date looming for their Degreed LXP, they were short on the manpower to make this happen.
So, we stepped in, with our fantastic freelancers in tow. We proposed a service desk team to assist the internal L&D team of this multinational financial services organisation. This team would support the rollout of the LXP across 80 countries, driving user engagement and skills-based learning. Headed up by our Digital Platform Manager, we handpicked a team of freelancers that were not only learning professionals but also Degreed experts.
The implementation of a new learning platform is a huge task for any organisation, not least one that has over 200,000 employees worldwide. So, we knew our client needed consistent, reliable information and data about our progress as we worked towards the crucial go-live date. Our Digital Platform Manager was the first point of contact for our client, which meant they were responsible for ensuring:
- Service desk tickets were assigned to the appropriate member of the project team
- Service level agreements were always abided by throughout the project
- Governance was adhered to, including ensuring requests from different teams were created with a consistent look and feel
- Management information was sent to the client in a consistent and timely manner
When acquiring a new LXP, it’s often tempting for organisations to cram it full of content they’ve accumulated over the years. But in doing that, they’re not transforming learning—instead, they’re just giving existing resources a shiny new home. Our client knew that to make an impact they needed to re-evaluate all their content and ensure it was fit for purpose.
The service desk team has almost five decades of combined experience in digital learning. So, it’s safe to say they know what works—and what doesn’t. As part of our offering, the service desk team:
- Reviewed existing content, checking it for accuracy, relevance, and branding
- Built new content where needed, based on the client’s needs
- Developed plans and pathways within Degreed to ensure best-in-class learner experience
- Created groups and skills and mapped them within the LXP
By providing this level of service and learning expertise to our clients, they were safe in the knowledge that their implementation of Degreed would lead to a true digital transformation of their learning offering.
And our commitment to our client’s digital transformation didn’t stop there. We wanted to ensure that all content that went into Degreed met these high standards. So, we are continually evaluating all the content created by Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) before it goes out to learners, ensuring that all content within Degreed is consistent and meets our client’s design standards.
The service desk team acted as an extension of our client’s internal L&D team. But here at Jam Pan, we strive to empower our clients to become self-sufficient where possible. So, this meant our service desk team took the L&D team on a little learning journey of their own.
Our Degreed experts provided support and coaching to upskill the L&D team on how to use the learning platform. This ensured that the internal team knew how to create engaging, beautiful learning from within the LXP, and how to ensure they were providing the best experience for their users.
This project was initially a three-month contract, supporting the migration to and implementation of Degreed. But after a super successful three months, we are now working with this client on a full-time basis—which has continued long past their launch date. Within our initial three-month contract, we helped our client:
- Build over 300 pathways and plans within Degreed (and translate them into seven different languages!)
- Migrate all content from SharePoint to Degreed in an effective and efficient way
- Streamline and simplify the creation process of content within the LXP
- Ensure consistency across all learning teams, with high levels of quality assurance as standard
So, without blowing our own trumpet, it’s clear to see why they chose to extend their contract with us!
Is there a recent development project, product launch, or another initiative our readers should know about?
Here at Jam Pan, we are in a fortunate position in which we work alongside some of the largest brands in the world and get to see firsthand the evolving requirements of skills and roles needed within a forward-thinking modern L&D team.
From analysing these trends, we have produced the “L&D Team Skills Mapper,” which allows individuals to cross-reference their current L&D offerings against those of evolved forward-thinking modern L&D teams. Not only can they see where they have gaps, but we have also provided resources to assist in developing these skills and mindsets to meet these criteria.
We have produced this Skills Mapper to develop L&D teams in five logical stages covering the wide breadth of skills and roles needed to fulfil the future learning initiatives that companies are requiring. This can be downloaded here.
Given your background in supporting and nurturing talent with Jam Pan, is there a piece of advice you’d like to give freelancers (or agency solutions) who are just starting out in the L&D industry?
I’ve had conversations with hundreds of individuals commencing their career journey into the wonderful world of L&D, and the biggest piece of advice I always offer is for them to define what they are going to offer as their services, articulate this clearly, as well as be able to demonstrate this so that potential clients know exactly how they can help.
Unless you have a pipeline of clients, don’t be super niche in your offering; e.g., customer software training for the healthcare industry. This will discourage potential clients from engaging with you, as they will not know how your skills transfer over to their needs or industry.
Also, depending on your offering, having a portfolio and/or case studies is also essential, as potential clients/employers want reassurance that you can do what you say you can to a high level.
Finally, talk to L&D peers to understand what is happening in the industry in terms of demands and developments. Knowing firsthand how important networking is to developing your career in L&D, I founded the Global Learning and Development Community to provide a safe space where anyone could find out about the industry, make friends, and get answers to their questions without there being a sales pitch involved. There are twice weekly Zoom meetups and even a platform with tons of useful resources.
What excites you most about the future of Learning and Development?
For me, it’s the fact that impact is starting to be focused on more than simply engagement and, with this, the shift in skills incorporated to make this happen.
I’ve seen global organizations move away from simply utilising “traditional” roles such as Instructional Designers and now incorporating skills such as marketing through the use of external talent in the form of copy writers as well as community managers to provide the skills they require for their needs effectively.
In addition to this is a shift away from simply creating one-off courses and now exploring the learning experience as a campaign with the incorporation of content curation to provide learners with the answers to their questions far quicker than a traditional creation-first method. This skill is accelerating in demand with the growth of LXP adoption and, to assist the facilitation of this upskilling, here at Jam Pan we curated a free course on “Becoming a Learning Content Curator.”
Thank you to John Hinchliffe for participating in our Thought Leader Q&A and sharing his insights and experiences with our readers. John was also featured on our eLearning Trailblazers  list for helping to keep the eLearning community in the know and offering his unique expertise to digital learning professionals.