What is Microsoft 365 Learning Pathways? 

Microsoft 365 Learning Pathways is a new, free extension to SharePoint that Microsoft describe as an on-demand and customisable learning solution to increase understanding and adoption of Microsoft 365 services within businesses. Microsoft 365 Learning Pathways is updated quarterly with up-to-date and beginner-friendly Microsoft 365-specific training material, but also supports and encourages the creation of custom content, which could allow it to be a powerful distribution platform for learning resources entirely based on an intranet. Some of the most obvious and powerful uses of this customisability include instructing users on how to meet and maintain company or brand-specific practices within Microsoft programs, such as how to correctly populate a proposal document in Word or create a corporate PowerPoint presentation. 

Gaining access to Microsoft 365 Learning Pathways is a very simple process! Firstly, download the custom learning package provided by Microsoft, and then upload it to the App Catalogue of your desired SharePoint tenancy. Once installed, it takes less than ten minutes to create and customise your very own training portal. 

Microsoft provides a guide to setting this tool up here! 

Why use Microsoft 365 Learning Pathways? 

Microsoft 365 Learning Pathways is a quick, easy, free resource that can boost knowledge of Microsoft products, and is ideal for a company that already utilises a SharePoint solution as an intranet. A benefit that this tool has over many third-party platforms is that it has regularly updated resources created directly by Microsoft, as well as offering the flexibility of entirely customising and creating learning paths to meet any gaps. As Microsoft 365 Learning Pathways can be hosted directly on SharePoint, it also makes collating and updating learning materials very easy, whilst also offering online availability and the option to access learning resources via most modern mobile devices. 

Microsoft 365 Learning Pathways security settings  

Microsoft 365 Learning Pathways gives you complete control over the visibility and accessibility of your learning resources. By default, Microsoft 365 Learning Pathways provides three pre-configured permissions groups which you can add users to:  

  • Visitors group which provides the permissions necessary to view Learning Pathways materials. 
  • Members group can view materials like the Visitors group, but can also administer learning pathways, which includes hiding and showing content and sorting pathways into custom playlists. 
  • Site Collection Administrator / Owners group can view and edit materials like the Members Group, but also allows these users to initialize the CustomConfig list item that sets up learning pathways for its first use. 

Being able to easily manage and categorise your content in Microsoft 365 Learning Pathways empowers a business to use it as a platform to distribute materials correctly and securely, such as restricting access to sensitive or confidential content without compromising access to those who need it. 

Categories and playlists  

Learning pathways is divided into categories for each program of Office 365. The categories are further separated by playlists which hold individual site pages, meaning that a program can be arranged by how it is used without needing to explore irrelevant content. This works best in tandem with a range of custom content, which could empower highly specific and relevant training resources that are outfitted with all the benefits of easy-access and security mentioned above. 

Microsoft’s existing content 

The content that is provided by Microsoft is aimed at those with very little experience with Microsoft 365 programs, making them most beneficial for complete beginners – more experienced users may not benefit as much from the current official content. If Microsoft 365 Learning Pathways is configured and equipped with custom content, however, the platform can become a very powerful tool for distributing information of any skill level with any program, whether that program is a Microsoft 365 program or otherwise.  

Although Microsoft’s official content is currently aimed at beginners, businesses may also find that it provides a good technical safety net to leave those resources available, and reduces any dangers associated with expecting all users to understand how to use software properly, or may help to reduce bad practices within these programs. It could also be an excellent onboarding tool for new or returning employees, or employees entering a new role involving the use of Microsoft 365 software and can help to alleviate the need for direct tutorship or subscription to third-party learning resources. 

Who would benefit from Microsoft 365 Learning Pathways?  

Microsoft 365 Learning Pathways are a welcomed addition to SharePoint that could, at no cost and with minimal set-up requirements, greatly benefit businesses that find themselves wanting or needing to distribute either very basic, official Microsoft guidance, custom content, or a fusion of the two about Microsoft 365 programs and internal best practices using them. This tool provides an alternative to proprietary learning resources and learning platforms and allows a much broad range of customisation options, which can be administered and overseen with the same powerful administrative capabilities that many resources on SharePoint benefit from. 

Microsoft 365 Learning Pathways are useful out-of-the-box to beginner users, but more advanced users should consider them not for the content that they currently have but for the entirely bespoke, centralised custom content they could potentially host.