(When completed, this article is worth +0.24 points on Degreed.)
I recently wrote a post titled, Using Degreed to Enhance the Value of the Learning You Create. In it, I shared why I thought Degreed, an emerging lifelong learning platform, might be an intriguing tool for independent instructors, solo entrepreneurs, and creators in helping them cultivate and grow an audience of like-minded learners.
I want to return to it now after taking the time over the past few weeks to think more deeply about the platform and how we might use it.
What systems does Degreed use to capture what we learn?
Degreed helps us capture and track our learning with a number of different tools. Let’s explore the utility of some of them:
Extensions, or bookmarklets, allow you to quickly add, save articles, videos, and more as you learn. They’re particularly useful when working on a desktop or laptop where you’re using a fully functional browser. While there is the extra step of having to remember to click on the bookmarklet each time you want to record a piece of learning, it’s always there and can be installed across Chrome, Safari, Firefox, and Explorer.
Similar to Extensions, the Degreed app enables you to share the learning you do from your phone directly to your profile. For instance, when opening the app to record an article, you’ll either 'mark complete' or ‘save for later.’ Because one of my primary sources of learning is derived from reading articles, the app is able to manage a large portion of my on-the-go learning. I’ve even begun to use it as a simplified replacement for popular productivity apps like Instapaper and Evernote. When you log-in to your Degreed profile, the read articles have already been added, categorized, and scored.
Integrations allow you to connect your Degreed profile with other online learning providers (Udemy, Skillshare, Goodreads etc.) all in one place and have the learning you do there automatically imported to your profile. By linking your accounts, the reporting of your learning becomes nearly invisible and runs almost seamlessly in the background. The one big flaw is you can’t specify the individual books and courses you want to have imported. It appears to be an all-or-nothing proposition which can be somewhat problematic if you don’t want everything from those providers shared to your Degreed profile. I mean, do you really need to know I read Hunger Games? Because of this, I occasionally do front-end curation with some of the books I read and purposefully do not add them on Goodreads, so they will not get imported. I've also made the decision not to include articles related to sports and politics, unless there's a clear link to the professional identity I want to have on Degreed.
Degreed’s supported tools enable you to automate a large portion of your learning, and this is extremely helpful in ensuring you use the platform consistently. The other positive (and more interesting) consequence is while your learning is being funneled to your profile, it’s simultaneously creating content for a prospective audience. If what you’re learning and how you’re learning it offers a window to the mind, providing an opportunity to see it all in one place is unique content.
The true value of Degreed, though, isn’t in showing you or your followers everything you’re learning, it’s strength lies in organizing all of it.
How does Degreed organize what you learn, and how might we turn this knowledge into meaningful content?
Each time you share something you learn with Degreed it’s funneled to two places - a ‘collections’ area that is a chronology of items you’ve recently added and an ‘insights’ page where your learning is categorized and quantified.
Degreed categorizes each piece of learning by type (articles, books, videos, courses, podcasts), as well as visually charts out an individual learning summary by date and topic.
If you’re trying to establish yourself as an expert, a potential audience of learners may wish to see what you’re learning, how you go about doing so, and the organized visual metrics that back it up.
For instance, this kind of categorized data could lead instructors to promote their own curated collections and the point values of top articles on their own sites, as well as across the various social media platforms where they might be able to engage with an even bigger audience. Here's an example of how I'm experimenting with sharing blog posts and articles on Twitter.
While sharing your learning as mentioned above might be useful, you may want to show off your expertise by creating a more structured Learning Pathway for your audience.
“A pathway is a collection of learning content that can be used for sharing knowledge on a particular topic, like teaching someone a new skill. A pathway can include a combination of content from any source, including your proprietary content, courses, online videos, articles, podcasts, events, or books.”
The beauty of creating a pathway is that it’s sequenced learning, and you’re in control of what goes into it. You’ll be able to hand pick a variety of learning resources so you can guide your followers to a desired outcome. Don’t underestimate the importance of being able to curate knowledge for your audience. If you can provide your following with a shortcut to what they want to know, you’ll be saving them time and money. THIS is extremely valuable.
Learning Pathways are the most versatile of the Degreed-supported tools we’ve discussed up to this point. I’ll be putting together a couple of experimental learning pathways on ‘course marketing’ soon once I understand the strengths and limitations of them as an individual user. I’ll report back when I do.
Analyzing Learning by Type
If you’re a person who creates your own learning materials, it’s important to understand how your audience prefers to consume information. While I didn’t pull the data below from a Degreed-supported tool, I compiled the total recorded learning activity of my 12 followers to see how they chose to learn. Here’s what I discovered:
Even though this data is from a small sample size, it does account for 34,199 individually recorded learning events through March 1, 2017. Of these recorded events:
- 85.2% - articles
- 8.4% - videos
- 3.3% - books
- 2.4% - courses
- 0.6% - podcasts
- Nearly 42% of my follower’s most popular learning topic was categorized as Business.
Degreed’s tools are set-up to capture read articles most easily and this might explain such a disproportionately high number. Books and courses are time-consuming and learners may not be able to complete as many of these intensive activities. Podcasts were included as a learning event after articles, videos, books, and courses on the platform, so this may account for a lower reported number.
Even with such basic analysis, we can infer that short written content should be the foundation for most learning activities you create for an audience. While this insight is probably less revelation and more affirmation, it’s still a helpful piece of information to remember as you plan and develop your own learning content to distribute. More powerful data analysis tools in the Degreed interface would go a long way in assisting creators gain a better sense of who their audience was, how they learn, and what they want to learn about.
I spend a significant amount of time trying to situate Degreed in the context of what I’m attempting to do. Why?
As I strive to create learning for others and build a business around that goal, I’ve begun to think in terms of systems to facilitate and manage much of the work that needs to get done. Some of these systems include:
- Editorial calendar/scheduling
- Email capture/management
- Search engine optimization/web analytics
- Social media
Of these systems, what appears to be missing for me is how we actually manage the learning we create for others. If blog posts, books, videos, courses, and podcasts are in fact our products, doesn’t it make sense we provide the individual consumers of that content with a place to track what they learn and help guide them in doing so?
I'll have more updates on my use of Degreed soon. Thanks for reading!