Learning is one of the four apps/modules included in Microsoft Viva. Microsoft describes Viva as an employee experience and Learning will focus on just that -learning, as expected from the name.
There’s lots of questions what Viva Learning really is about, and what role it will play for organizations regarding their approach for user-learning and training. Will it replace your current Learning Management System (LMS) or be a complement to it? I’ll try to answer these questions based on what I do know today.
It’s today in public preview, with some features missing that are supposed to be included when it will be generally available later this year. Also, since it’s in preview, any feature can be changed/added/removed.
Currently the public preview is closed, but will hopefully be opened up again soon!
Like the other modules, Viva Learning will be used mainly from an app within Microsoft Teams, from where users in your organization can access learning and training content from multiple sources.
The initial setup of Viva Learning is done by a global admin in the Microsoft365 Admin Center via:
Settings -> Org Settings -> Services -> Viva Learning (visible only if you are enabled for public preview)
You can here view and select learning providers and sources from which you want to pull content into the Learning app.
The providers currently available are:
- Microsoft Learn (Enabled by default)
- Microsoft 365 Training (Enabled by default)
- LinkedIn Learning (Enabled by default for free content)
Be aware of that by selecting a third party content provider, you will need appropriate licensing/subscriptions for those services.
For example, LinkedIn Learning requires your organization to have a proper subscription in place for organizational use, except from the free content provided. Personal accounts with access to LinkedIn Learning is not viable to use at this time.
Now, as seen from the above image, SharePoint can also be selected as a source! You are prompted to enter a URL pointing to a, by you, preconfigured site containing your own organization’s custom learning content. At the time of this writing, this does not work yet and the Microsoft documentation for configuring the Sharepoint site is currently empty.
Keep checking in on the link below for documentation:
Configure SharePoint as a learning content source for Microsoft Viva Learning (Preview) | Microsoft Docs
After setup, Viva Learning will be available as an app in Microsoft Teams. Teams administrators can then use Setup Policies in the Teams Admin Center to install and pin the app for users to the left rail in Teams. Just as with any other app in Microsoft Teams.
When selecting the app, users will now see learning content pulled from all the sources configured in earlier steps. There will be headers to differentiate them, so you know what source they come from, as well as headers like trending, assigned, “recommended to you” etc..
From here you can also bookmark content, get a sharing link or recommend for example a specific course to selected users.
There’s a search bar at the top right corner in order to search against all configured sources, for learning and training content. Viva Learning is also integrated with Microsoft Search, so you can search for learning content from outside of Teams as well.
Depending on the content sources, some are available to digest directly from within Microsoft Teams with an embedded player (like LinkedIn Learning courses), while some opens up in a browser.
A few notes to add here:
- The ability to assign courses to users seems to have been removed as a feature of Viva Learning. This might change in the future though. The “assigned” view seems to be reflecting assignments made with third party LMS’s. I’m not entirely sure about how this process works currently.
- The “recommend” feature includes tracking which will be available for the recommending user, and the user being recommended. You can choose a due date while creating one, but it’s still a recommendation and won’t replace a mandatory assignment available in some LMS’s for example.
You can also have Viva Learning added to a team itself, adding it as a tab in a channel or chat. By doing so, you can search and add selected courses and other learning content to be viewed from this tab. This makes it easy to promote specific learning content to users of a specific team or chat.
Additionally, Viva Learning will be available as a message extension so you can search and add direct links to content via conversations in a channel or in a private chat/group chat.
Microsoft is talking about social Learning, which studies have shown to improve the process of learning in several ways. By surfacing learning in different contexts like chat, conversations, sharing links and recommendations etc, Viva Learning fits well into that category.
Is Viva Learning an LMS?
If you’ve read everything up until now, you’ve probably already figured out that it’s not. At least not yet. It’s more a solution to make it easier to find/search, share and collect multiple sources of learning and training content into one single place – Microsoft Teams. There’s no tools afaik, to build courses with different modules like videos, images and questionnaires, built into Viva Learning! Assignments and more advanced tracking, content based learning, security filtering and so forth, are also missing. This means that right now Viva Learning will work as a complement to an LMS if you are using one, making it easier to search, share and access that content from one place, together with other possible content sources. If you’re not using an LMS, Viva Learning will still provide your users with an easy, more fun and effective way to find and digest learning and training.
As of now, there’s a very limited amount of third party providers available, which is perfectly fine since this is a preview. Upcoming LMS integrations that are announced include:
- SAP SuccessFactors
- Cornerstone OnDemand
There will be API’s available for Viva Learning, making it possible for other LMS and learning content partners to integrate with it. These are not yet available though. What API’s that will be available are by my knowledge – unknown at the moment.
A new AAD admin role called “Knowledge Administrator” will be available from the Microsoft365 Admin Center -> Roles. This role can be applied to any user by a global administrator, and then be able to manage the different learning content sources.
It’s important to know the possibilities as well as the limitations of Viva Learning. What it can do and what it can’t do. It won’t help you to create learning and training content, but rather surface existing ones from various sources including your own. It will probably not replace any existing LMS you have, but rather add to it in various ways. And it’s in Teams where all your users live, (assumption) making learning and training very accessible.
We also have to consider it’s in early stages, still in preview. This means things will probably change until being generally available. And after that Microsoft will most certainly continue to improve and add functionality to Viva Learning. But for now, it’s a great, easy way to surface learning content to users and make learning more social with the help of Microsoft Teams.