One of the most challenging aspects of being an IT administrator in the cloud era is staying on top of new releases to the technology your business is using. Cloud IT providers are continually enhancing their platforms. Of course, this has many benefits, but it can also be difficult to keep track of what’s changing - and decide what is important for your business.
Early in 2021, Microsoft announced that a new Employee Experience & Engagement platform will be added natively to the Microsoft Teams platform, Microsoft Viva. If you are a Microsoft Teams administrator or IT manager, this technology is likely to have a significant impact on the working lives of your colleagues.
Microsoft Viva comprises four key modules:
- Viva Learning: An app that aggregates learning content in MS Teams.
- Viva Connections: A curated company news and resources hub in MS Teams.
- Viva Topics: A solution that connects people with organizational knowledge.
- Viva Insights: A wellbeing hub that provides personalized activity insights.
Depending on your role, each of these modules will have a different bearing on your job.
In this blog, we are going to focus on Microsoft Viva Learning.
Table of Contents
- What is Viva Learning?
- What Viva Learning is Not
- Why do we need Viva Learning?
- What content will you see in Viva Learning?
- How will employees find training in Microsoft Viva Learning?
- How much does Microsoft Viva Learning cost?
- What if we can't afford the cost of Viva Learning?
- When will Viva Learning become available?
- Watch the Recorded Webinar
- Predictions for Viva Learning
- Microsoft doing best by its customers
- Questions and Answers
What is Viva Learning?
Viva Learning is essentially a training aggregation app that appears in Microsoft Teams. When a Microsoft Teams user opens up the Viva Learning app they will see a number of courses curated for them. The courses they see will be relevant to their job title, skill set and experience. The user will be able to consume training from a variety of content providers and training systems all aggregated into the Viva Learning app.
Here's how we imagine it working: imagine you are a Marketing Assistant at a medium sized business. From right within Microsoft Teams, you click on the Viva Learning app and you see training articles and videos from a variety of providers. This might include your company’s own training content as well as various third-party training content such as LinkedIn Learning, Microsoft Learn, Pluralsight, EdX, Coursera, Skillsoft and more. Instead of leaving your Microsoft Teams environment to brush up on your marketing skills, you can access all of that information from right within the app where you spend your days.
Learn more: Viva Learning Video Demos
What Viva Learning is Not
Viva Learning is Not a Learning Management System (LMS) nor is it a contextual learning delivery system.
If you want to assign learning to your employees, you will still need a system to make the assignments. The assignments can potentially show up within Viva Learning if you have that integration configured with your learning system, but that's about it. Aside from the assignments showing up in Viva Learning, no further integration is currently planned . You would still need to go through the learning system to check the progress and do other deep analysis to assess the impact of learning.
You might have heard that Viva Learning provides learning in the flow of work. What that really means is that Viva Learning provides a destination learning experience directly within Microsoft Teams where many people are working most of their day.
However, employees will not have access to that learning when they are in other systems such as your in house custom applications, other SaaS systems, Microsoft 365 apps such as OneDrive, SharePoint , etc. They will still need to come back to Microsoft Teams in order to consume the learning from Viva Learning.
Why do we need Viva Learning?
There is already a wide variety of learning options for organizations to train their staff. So why do we need Viva Learning? Some of the key reasons Microsoft decided to introduce this technology includes:
- People are spending more time in Microsoft Teams
Due to the pandemic and the rise in remote working, Microsoft Teams has become a central hub where many people now spend their days at work. It therefore makes sense to bring training direct to the user where they spend time - rather than expecting them to go elsewhere for their learning.
- Addresses common training challenges
Viva Learning attempts to overcome some of the most common challenges when it comes to training staff. If people have to go out of their way to find learning, it is relatively unlikely that they will actually do it. What is more, because there is so much training available it can be very hard for individual employees to decide what they need to focus on. Viva Learning brings the most relevant training to the individual in the place they spend most time. That means they’re more likely to actually learn.
What content will you see in Viva Learning?
Microsoft has so far announced partnerships with the following entities as Viva Learning Partners. The partnership means that they would provide content or related services/integrations to Viva Learning.
- Microsoft Learn
- LinkedIn Learning
- Cornersone OnDemand
- SAP SuccessFactors
- joshbersin academy
- udemy business
- Harvard Business Publishing
- Your company’s own learning resources
Later this year Microsoft also plans to make APIs available so that other LMS platforms can also integrate into Viva Learning.
Back to Table of Contents
How will employees find training in Microsoft Viva Learning?
Viva Learning is almost like a Spotify for company training. What this means is that the app is focused on self-discovery and recommendations based on the individual’s profile and learning history – just like the popular music streaming app.
Opening up the app, the user can search for terms and find training based on their current needs and interests.
Take our example of a marketing assistant. Perhaps she wants to read her company’s guidelines for social media campaigns. She simply opens up the Viva Learning app within Teams and enters search terms. The relevant training sections or documents will then appear for her.
- Recommendations based on the Microsoft Graph
Microsoft Graph is a powerful AI tool that underpins Microsoft 365. It gets to know the individual and how they use the platform. Based on various data points related to their profile and activity, it will start to recommend training sessions in Viva Learning that it estimates might be relevant to them.
Here’s how it might work for our fictional marketing assistant. Over time, the Microsoft Graph starts to notice she is reading a lot of training articles about social media marketing. Based on this activity Viva Learning might start to surface articles and videos about more advanced aspects of social media marketing which could help that employee further enhance her skills.
- Training assignments from managers
Managers can use their existing LMS to assign training tasks to colleagues which would then appear in Viva Learning. If they decide an employee or the whole team needs additional learning on a specific topic, they can assign training modules and verify whether or not they have been completed.
In our example of the marketing assistant, a manager might decide to set up one weekly training task to bolster her skill set.
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How much does Microsoft Viva Learning cost?
Microsoft Viva Learning is an app which you can add right within your Microsoft Teams environment. The cost for Viva Learning is:
$4 per user per month
Sounds expensive? here's what you get with it:
- The Viva Learning app
- The free learning content coming from Microsoft
- Ability to add content from other learning providers like LinkedIn Learning, Skillsoft, Pluralsight, etc (your organization must have a separate license for that learning to provide that content)
- The integrations with SharePoint that lets you add your own content to Viva Learning
- Ability to integrate with your own LMS (APIs for that coming in late 2021).
Note: Keep in mind that you will need your own existing LMS so you can make assignments and track progress. Learning assignments cannot be made through Viva Learning.
What if we can't afford that price?
Viva Learning is a great solution for enterprises. However, the price will not be suitable for everyone.
If you are looking for:
- A learning app that embeds directly in Microsoft Teams
- The app icon and wording can be customizable to your brand
- Contains content for All Microsoft Office 365 applications that is automatically updated
- Ability for you to upload your own content from your organization or any content from anywhere
- Cost of somewhere in the range of around $1 per user per month
You can check out the VisualSP for Teams app and see if that's better suitable for your organizational needs.
When will Viva Learning become available?
Viva Learning is currently in public preview (Note: the public preview is on hold as of June 2021. It is not clear when it will open up again).
There are no dates announced yet for general availability, but it is expected that the Viva Learning app will become generally available at some point in late 2021.
Watch the Recorded Webinar
I presented a 45 mins webinar on all things Viva Learning on June 29th, 2021. The recording is embedded below.
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Predictions for Viva Learning
So, what does the arrival of Viva Learning mean for how organizations train their employees? Here are our predictions:
- Viva Learning will become a curated search engine for training
Employees will be able to seek out training modules provided by their organization directly in their flow of work within Microsoft Teams.
- Microsoft-centric LMS systems will integrate further
Any LMS system that already provides training related to Microsoft will adapt their solutions so that their training content as well as assignment functionality integrates easily with Microsoft Viva Learning.
- Viva Learning will complement existing learning systems
The Viva Learning app is fundamentally a training content aggregator. In this sense, it does not really replace any other training environments. Instead, it enhances and complements your existing investments in business training and helps you to make more use of them.
Microsoft doing best by its customers
The launch of Microsoft Viva shows just how dedicated Microsoft is to the customer experience. Viva Learning represents a fantastic way of helping businesses get more from their training content and the training platforms they’ve invested in.
Ultimately Viva Learning supports the notion of providing training to people in context - which is something that we at VisualSP fully endorse. While Viva Learning is focused on aggregating training content into a single, easy-access app, VisualSP delivers training in a different way, by providing technology usage guides at the moment of need. In this way, the two solutions complement staff training at different levels. Learn more about how VisualSP works here.
Have any questions about Microsoft Viva Learning and what it means for training at your organization? Contact us today and let's chat.
Questions and Answers
The questions below were asked by attendees of the Viva Learning webinar that I conducted on June 29th, 2021.
1. Does Viva Learning connect to the Microsoft 365 Learning Pathways site?
Viva Learning is more of a shell, a container, in which you can pull in any content. Microsoft 365 learning pathways is not yet one of the content sources that Microsoft supports but they have mentioned that they will support it in the future.
2. Will it also work on the mobile version of Teams?
Yes. Once Viva Learning is generally available, it will support mobile version of Teams as well.
3. In setup, can you choose what providers show up here?
That's correct. When you are setting up Viva Learning, you click on the checkboxes of the content sources, the providers, that you want to show within the Viva Learning interface.
4. Will learning content that is created internally also show up in Viva Learning?
Yes. Once Viva Learning is available for production environments, it will support showing learning content that is produced internally such as videos, Word/Excel/PowerPoint documents, PDF, etc
5. Is the learning displayed here learning based on your subscription to each provider like LinkedIn learning or is some of the training content provided free with Viva Learning?
For all the content providers that Microsoft supports, they provide some varying degree of free content which shows up when you enable them as a content source in the Viva Learning configuration. And then if you want to get access to the premium content, you would need to have an organizational subscription with that content provider.
6. We have an app that is on Teams app store. Would like to know what features will Viva API have?
Microsoft has committed to releasing APIs for Viva Learning in fall of 2021 timeframe.
7. Can you use the SharePoint method to put a link to an external content provider? For example a 3rd party learning provider that has web based content.
I believe the SharePoint method lets you link to content that's only hosted in SharePoint but that can change in the future.
8. Does VisualSP require allowing custom scripts on sites? If so, is there any way to use it without this? Many organizations have this turned off on sites by default for various governance reasons.
VisualSP has been deployed by many of our customers in one of two ways:
- As a custom action which requires allowing custom scripts on sites
- Using the VisualSP browser extension
The second option is the one that we would recommend for organizations that have the custom scripts turned off.
9. Can you sign in to each learning source with different credentials, or is authentication done at the MS Teams level?
This is still an unknown. Currently, the only credential management that is exposed is the LinkedIn credentials.
10. How is connection, insights and others connected to MS Teams and SharePoint
All Viva branded apps are Microsoft Teams apps that appear on the left rail of Teams. Some of the functionality of these apps can also be accessed through tabs within channels and chats/conversations. (read more on this blog)
11. How does licensing work? Does my organization need to purchase enterprise licenses for all users from each learning provider?
That is my current understanding. The organization would have to purchase the enterprise / organizational license for each learning provider that they want to show the learning from.
12. Wondering if "Trending" of content in Viva Learning can be controlled/removed per user/group?
To my knowledge, the Trending row in Viva Learning cannot be removed.
13. Does Viva Learning show your course or curriculum progress in more detail, without LMS integration? Does it show your team members' progress?
Viva Learning does not have detailed analytics. It will rely on LMS integration to do that. Viva Learning will only show the things that you have recommended to others and if they have started on those recommendations or completed them or not.
14. How is search content indexed and how is it stored? Can I add custom learning sources? For example, if I search for MIP, will I get all courses that contain learning on Microsoft Information Protection?
There does not seem to be any indication that we will be able to control the search index at all.
15. Do any of the resources available through Viva Learning (whether LinkedIn Learning, Pluralsight, or otherwise) offer customization options for training or content? Or is everything available canned content?
Anything that's coming from those providers will be canned content. The only thing that you can control is the content that's coming from your organization.
16. Can you filter the courses based on your role?
Currently there is no indication that this functionality will be possible.
17. Is there a cost associated with provisioning the Viva Learning module with just the default M365 Training connectors? Like Pathways and the Microsoft Training.
Yes. The cost for Viva Learning is $4/user/month.
18. Is there a cost for sources such as LinkedIn Learning? (Will there be free and pay learning sources and a way to manage costs?)
Yes there will be a cost for most of the content from third party sources such as LinkedIn Learning. Your organization will need to have a license to be able to show that content through Viva Learning.
19. Will LinkedIn Learning HUB have more LMS features like tracking learning for individuals or groups (HUB I believe is an upcoming addition to LinkedIn Learning- just wondering if you knew how that would interact a Viva)
The LinkedIn learning hub is supposed to be a learning experience platform (LXP) that will be released at some point in the future.
Microsoft has not come out and said that it will allow LinkedIn learning hub to integrate with Viva Learning but that seems to be a very obvious direction that they will take. So yes, I would bet that it will happen in the future.
20. How does VisualSP work with Viva Learning?
VisualSP and Viva Learning will work together.
Viva Learning allows employees to learn and develop skills while inside Teams.
VisualSP helps employees by providing them access to any information (learning, governance, announcements, policies, etc.) they need in context of their own environment to help them perform their job.
VisualSP also produces the VisualSP for Teams app that serves as a good alternative to Viva Learning who need it.
21. Is there a cost for sources such as LinkedIn Learning? (Will there be free and pay learning sources and a way to manage costs?)
Yes there will be a cost for third party sources such as LinkedIn Learning. Your organization will need to have a license to premium content to be able to show that content through Viva Learning.
22. Viva Learning is the portal to display LinkedIn Learning and company's LMS system?
Viva Learning lets you display whatever you want including content from your company's LMS and LinkedIn learning and more.
23. My LinkedIn account is a personal account but I sign in to Teams with my work account. How can it customize the training for me if it shows me logged in as my work account? And how can I show the training as completed on my personal account?
Unfortunately I don't believe there's any integration with personal and business LinkedIn accounts - at least not yet. The story is still developing.
24. Can you make curated training lists for users like information needed for new hires?
Yes, you should be able to have all of your learning including in the onboarding learning presented in Viva Learning. However, it will all be in just one row of Viva Learning. The way I understand it, segmenting out specific things just for new hires is something that currently seems to not be supported, but things can change by the time this gets to production
25. Will MS Viva Learning replace or complement Moodle or Google Classroom?
Viva will complement them.
26. Can you draw Learning Pathways into Viva Learning? It has redundant content...wouldn't it produce duplicate entries in Viva Learning if it was?
You could just have one row of content that shows learning pathways. Currently there is another row that is there by default called Microsoft 365 training. you could replace that row of information with just learning pathways content so it's not redundant.
27. You can use SharePoint to host training content for Viva Learning, but is there any way to build courses (different modules/questions etc) like a LMS or is it just basically a pane to view training of different sources plus some more?
From what it seems like so far, there is no way to create a course and make it available within Viva Learning. It will be specific artifacts like office documents, videos and PDF's that you can make available.
28. Viva does not track progress to any third-party courses more than the "recently viewed something column"? I guess that's on the individual party's site then?
Correct. Tracking progress will be the responsibility of the LMS. showing the tracking off some of the assignments should be possible in Viva Learning from what it seems so far.
29. Can assignments be tracked in Viva? or only where you assigned it from?
Assignments will be able to be tracked in Viva Learning but not assigned from Viva Learning. And for all this to happen, integration must exist with the proper elements.
30. Can you use the SharePoint method to put a link to an external content provider? For example a 3rd party learning provider that has web-based content.
No. The content has to be based inside SharePoint.
31. Does Viva replace the need for a LMS?
Viva is not an LMS. You will still need an LMS to assign and track user content assignments. Viva Learning will then show the courses assigned to you. That's about it.
32. Do you need to use APIs to connect Viva Learning to LinkedIn learning?
No. It's a simple configuration in the Office 365 admin center where you just check a checkbox for the content sources you want to pull content from - including LinkedIn Learning - and it just starts appearing in Viva Learning. As simple as that. However, you can't choose what content to show and not show. Everything that the content source provider is choosing to show will show up.
33. Is Viva Learning free?
No. The Viva Learning app costs $4 per user per month. That price will get you access to the Viva Learning Teams app and any free content that comes with it (minimal). Then you will need to license any learning content (from providers like LinkedIn Learning, Pluralsight, etc.) that you want to make available to organizations. Keep in mind that your individual license to these services will not work. It has to be an organizational license to any of these learning services.
Our customers who were looking for an alternative to Viva Learning due to cost, functionality, ability to brand/customize as needed, etc. usually go for the VisualSP for Teams app.
34. How do I get access to Viva Learning?
Viva Learning is still in preview and is supposed to become generally available sometime in the fall of 2021 (but don't hold your breath... it may or may not ship in time. Still a lot of stuff is being worked out)