Use the SharePoint look book to build your learning platform with Learning Pathways

The SharePoint look book is a service provided by Microsoft to show the possibilities of designing a modern intranet based on SharePoint. You can browse through the offered examples at which are used by Microsoft itself for conferences like Ignite or this week at the ESPC.

The SharePoint look book can be your starting point to build a new intranet

What is the purpose of the SharePoint look book?

You will find many different examples like landing pages and department, team or community sites. You can use these examples to build your own custom intranet without starting from scratch. Select the template which seems to be close enough to your requirements and if you find some building blocks (e. g. a countdown webpart) which fit your needs, you can use them and remove the components which are not neccessary for you.

If you are a consultant and you are doing a lot of presales, you will benefit from being able to setup a demo environment in a few minutes. After the provisioning is finished, you can add some additional components or do some customizing to provide some kind of prototype for your customer. This will make it so much easier for you to talk with your customers about a new solution.

If you are a developer and you are developing custom components (e. g. a SPFx webpart), you will also be able to test them in the context of an existing intranet which can be very close to your target scenario.

Please check that you are a tenant administrator and that there is an existing SharePoint App Catalog in your tenant. Otherwise you will get an error message, if you try to add a template of the SharePoint look book to your tenant.

Provide “Microsoft 365 Learning Pathways” to your tenant

But today, I want to show you a template to support your users with a bunch of training material. You will find the template “Microsoft 365 learning pathways” in the category “Solutions”. When you select a template, you will be redirected to a page with more details like the provided site features, the used webparts and the the content included in the template.

Check the content of a template before you add it to your tenant

The Learning Pathways template provides training material especially for SharePoint, Teams and OneDrive and can be your starting point for a corporate learning platform. After clicking the button “Add to your tenant”, you have to define the URL of the site collection to be created. The default path is “/sites/o365CL” but in my case I want to introduce the path “/sites/learning” to be a little bit more flexible for future content.

Set the path of the new site collection for your learning platform and define an email address to be informed after the provisioning of the new site has been finished

You should also check the email address which will be used to inform about the completion of the provisioning process. The default value is the email address of the current user, but sometimes you want to inform somebody else. When you have checked the information, you can click the button “Provision”.

Check the provisioning steps

A dialog will show up and inform you about the provisioning steps. In the case of the Learning Pathways template you will also get the information that Microsoft will collect active usage data to improve the training material which will be updated regularly to your tenant. Start the provisioning process by clicking the button “Confirm”.

You can close the appearing confirmation page because you will get an information via email and the provisioning process will take some minutes. When you receive your confirmation email, you can click the button “Open Site” and access your new learning platform.

Wait for your confirmation email and navigate to your new site
The sender of the confirmation email is the SharePoint PnP Provisioning Service. I want to recommend the PnP resources at which can improve your daily work.

Drive user adoption with your custom learning portal

When you navigate to your new website, you will find the draft version of your corporate learning platform with some default training material for SharePoint, OneDrive and Teams. But it still needs some adjustments.

You should add custom content which is relevant to your business scenarios and you should also think about upcoming training events and establishing a community like the Office 365 champions program in your company. Such a community can help to drive user adoption and to get more out of the several Microsoft 365 services.

Customize your learning platform and support your end-users

Microsoft provides playlists (a collection of training material for a selected topic) for “Get started”, “Products” and “Scenarios”. You can extend this default setup with your own playlists. But keep in mind that the default material will be updated by Microsoft in a regular manner while your content needs an own update process.

And last but not least, configure the permissions of your learning platform. Who should be able to manage the content of the training material? Do you need an approval process for new content? And do you have only one learning portal or do you need multiple portals due to your organizational structure or other reasons? I’m sure that you will find your individual answers. I’m interested in your experiences. Please leave a comment below.

If your users are more familiar with Microsoft Teams, you can integrate the learning platform as a tab in an existing team or as an app in the navigation menu. Maybe, you only want to provide training material for Teams. In this case, use the page filtered for Teams content.

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