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Learning Academies: Custom-Crafted Solutions


FOUNDATIONS – by Kristen Hewett

How can you implement a successful learning academy?

Putting patients first is a top priority for many life sciences organizations. To pull this off, organizations often avoid using a one-size-fits-all approach to healthcare and instead create integrated solutions that can be customized to individual patients’ needs.

Leveraging custom-crafted solutions shouldn’t be limited to just the patient — we must start with our own employees by embracing innovative approaches to employee learning and development. To meet this challenge, many organizations have found success in implementing online corporate learning academies.

Is It the Right Choice?

There are many considerations that can help an organization choose the right solution. However, when looking to strengthen specific expertise across the board, corporate academies can offer a holistic, standardized and consolidated global offering that transforms the learning from a traditional classroom setting to an engaging, self-paced journey that empowers learners to level up their skills.

Corporate academies often offer the ability for employees, from varying backgrounds and regions, to engage in a customized learning path for certification-level training.

What Does It Entail?

Corporate academies can vary quite a bit, but often they feature a variety of components and opportunities for connection centered around a unique competency model that supports a function or role. A blend of videos, online learning, games, live sessions and simulations can create foundational knowledge and also provide opportunities for employees to apply their knowledge to real-world challenges. In addition, incorporating on-the-job activities with support and coaching from managers can ensure sustained learning over time.

So how can you implement a successful learning academy? Use the following tips to ensure that your corporate university amplifies employee learning and development.

Build Alignment

The first step is to ensure that the learning journey is designed in alignment with business strategies, organizational development initiatives, and existing or desired competency models for the target audience. For functional expertise like marketing or sales, methods for understanding needed competencies can include researching existing models or conducting interviews and focus groups with leading professionals around the world.

There are often different viewpoints on which competencies are needed to be successful in a particular role, so gaining broad input can be critical. Once developed, the corporate academy provides an opportunity to continue to create sustained alignment, encouraging employees to check in with their managers throughout their learning journey on the competencies and skills most needed for their individual roles.

Customize the Experience

To support learners of varied backgrounds and experience levels, design your experience with flexibility in mind by basing the learner journey on individuals’ competencies and responsibilities. Give learners guidance on what content will help them in their development, but also allow them to explore additional topics that interest them.

Completing assessments and self-rating their confidence and competence can inform a learner’s customized path, and a final cumulative capstone project can allow learners to demonstrate their skills for certification.

Ensure Accessibility and Ease

Leveraging a central online portal to house all learning solutions provides learners with an easy to-navigate experience so they can focus on what really matters –building their skills. Plus, it creates a consistent learning experience that’s accessible to all learners regardless of their physical location.

It can also serve as a point of connection for users to learn and understand the interconnectedness of people and systems within the organization. Depending on ease-of-use, it may make sense to create something outside of your learning management system for better uptake by learners.

Leverage Diverse New and Existing Content

Leveraging your organization’s existing program content or off-the-shelf solutions where possible saves time and money during development. Co-creating materials across affiliates or business units ensures representation of diverse views, and enlisting a broad team helps keep all stakeholders engaged in the review process.  A successful learning academy should also leverage individual, independent learning solutions and cohort-based events that provide learners with opportunities to build confidence and connect with colleagues.

Gamify It

Gamified learning experiences enable learners to practice new skills in unique ways. Learners can apply the foundational knowledge they gain from live learning sessions to gamified simulations and activities. These gamified elements keep learners engaged in content across the various topics. It’s important to incorporate authentic examples or on-the-job scenarios from your organization so it feels real-world for learners.

Measure the Impact and Iterate Continuously

As you design your corporate university, embrace an iterative development approach, reviewing and revising each online solution continuously based on feedback from reviewers. A successful learning academy should support employees in their professional development while also supporting the organization in increased expertise – and ultimately increased business results.

To keep the learning experience fresh, regularly expand your learning experiences by creating additional assets and collecting metrics to measure transfer of learning to on-the-job behavior.


Implementing these strategies will put you well on your way to ensuring the impact of your organization’s employee learning program through a corporate academy. It can be a critical tool in your overall organization’s tool kit to customize learning so that employees can focus on what you want them to — developing meaningful life-changing solutions for patients.

Kristen Hewett is a senior solutions consultant at TiER1 Performance.  Email Kristen at

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