The Essential Disciplines and Skills Needed on Your Learning Team

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Think about your learning team for a moment. Every day, you rely on their skills and talents to complete projects and ensure your learning initiatives succeed.

But have you considered where their individual development is heading? Are your learning team members on a path to grow, evolve, and pivot within their career, based on personal goals and desires?

Many learning teams arrange their content creation employees around deliverable content types. While this approach makes sense for managing output and team activities, it can stifle individual creativity and discourage employees from discovering growth opportunities—ironically, the very things modern learning is supposed to do.

As an alternative tactic, I like to think of everyone on the content creation team as a learning producer. Each person has a unique specialization we rely on, but they are all producing content of different types, using different sets of disciplines.

For individual contributors, this organizational strategy provides options. One path is to grow through increased depth and experience within a single discipline, but there’s also the alternative option to go broad and expand into new disciplines. Perhaps that contributor can provide support for the team on projects that require exploration and the discovery of new and unique combinations of disciplines.

The aggregation of disciplines across the team determines the type and level of work that can be tackled. Using these disciplines, you can shape your team and provide growth opportunities for each individual.

Here are the seven disciplines I use with my learning producers.


Learning producers who specialize in interactive inject experiential manipulation into learning content. They build direct manipulation through in-person activities and props, use virtual interactions crafted from interface devices and gestures, and/or establish traditional interactions through assessment of knowledge retention and emotional connectedness.

Video and Audio

Video and audio learning producers create assets that can either stand-alone or become part of a larger whole that others can build with and aggregate. These learning producers think of the target audience, the location of training, and the content type to determine the right format. Their skills and expertise connect the emotional experience with the right format type. Some examples include:

  • Work podcast for use during a commute;
  • Screen-capture video recording to perform a task in software;
  • Narrated animation to explain a concept using metaphors or visuals; and
  • Personal connection with a presenter in a live-action video.

Experience Design

Experience Design, XD, user experience—whatever you call it, the term inspires a lot of debate within the industry around what it means. For our purposes, it defines the construction, satisfaction, and effectiveness of the learning experience. Learning producers with this discipline are incredible assets to your team and can take content to the next level of fidelity, which adds to the importance and care of the content.
Experience Design includes a few components, such as:

  • High-quality precision through consistency in design and style;
  • Contributions to the design of templates and styles to accelerate content development; and
  • Ownership of content taxonomy and metadata to ease browsing, searching, and discovery of the right content.

Content and Editorial

Working with content requires it to be a good fit for the audience. Content must have the proper tone, accurate messaging, and be polished and thoughtful. Adaptable editing is essential for making sure that’s possible. There’s also the need to present content in meaningful ways, including on social media and other locations where learners go for content.

Along with Experience Design, learning producers who focus on the written word and its tone are the people who make your written content come alive. These functions are all part of your content and editorial discipline, confirming your content is always in the right voice and in the right locations.

Web Publishing

The Web Publishing discipline ensures your content is deployed in the appropriate places and with suitable supporting technology and platforms to make it engaging and effective. This discipline may work with a variety of technologies, depending upon the content area and audience type, but it always balances the needs of the learner with learning objectives to find the best option.

Learning producers with a web publishing specialization can help build the scaffolding for how your content comes together, develop a strong content strategy, and design your information architecture to align with learning goals and taxonomy.

Operations and Analytics

With all these activities and disciplines in play, a system is required to make sure everything works together and hums. This engine is the Operations and Analytics discipline and represents an essential component of your learning producer team. One part builds the tools that move content from concept to deployment; the other looks at content engagement and consumption to help optimize what needs to be created next or to iterate on what needs to be improved.

Workflow and Pipeline

As with most content areas, there are lots of changing projects, priorities, and requirements. The Workflow and Pipeline discipline juggles these dynamic parameters and provides a clear path forward by developing content editorial calendars, examining team capacity to balance work, and discovering more efficient, effective, and enjoyable ways to get work done.

Learning and development teams are studios that serve multiple clients and customers, and they are all independent of each other. Having a learning producer who’s experienced in workflow and pipeline management can help your team develop an agency-oriented model for managing project intake and keep everyone up-to-speed on the health of the entire organization.

How to deliver data-informed modern learning

Want to learn more about how to build learning teams that deliver modern learning experiences to employees? We have just the right on-demand webinar for you.

In How to Build Data-Informed Modern Learning with H&R Block, our guest blogger (Doug Winnie, Director of Learning Experience at H&R Block) spoke with Ben Willis, Corporate Strategy Consultant for Inkling, about how to capture the real voice of learners and prioritize what they want in order to build data-informed modern learning experiences. 

You can watch the on-demand webinar now, or feel free to check out a previous blog from Doug called The Six “Ds” of Learning Experience.