New Learning Paths for Microsoft Dynamics 365

Learning Paths are a new feature in Microsoft Dynamics 365 to help on-board new users.

With Learning Paths, a new Azure cloud service, Microsoft Dynamics 365 delivers walk-through guides, embedded videos, and articles within the application.

Unlike traditional help, Learning Paths are contextual to each organisation and adapts to fit individual roles, the current page or record, and even which device is being used.

For example, a service user may see Learning Path content which differs from the information that is promoted to sales users.

Learning Paths help users discover new features and familiarize themselves with new forms and business processes at their own pace within the app.

As part of the on-boarding process, Learning Paths reduce training time and costs, and enable new users to be more quickly productive with Dynamics 365.

In a two-part series of posts we'll feature both types of Learning Path content beginning with Sidebars before looking at Guided Tasks.

If you need assistance in configuring Learning Paths on your system please get in touch and we'll be happy to assist you.

To get started, Learning Paths and authoring must be enabled in the system settings. 

Enabling Learning Path authoring will create an Office 365 Learning Path Authors security group so users will need to be assigned to this. 

Individual users can opt in or out of Learning Paths depending on their preferences.

When users have opted in, clicking the question mark in the top right corner takes them to the Learning Path centre.

To control which types of users are authorised to add Learning Path content a new security privilege is available for user security roles.  

To build a new Learning Path or manage existing content navigate to Training > Content Library:

This lists content that has been created and highlights the current publication status and the type of content.

In this post we will focus on Learning Path Sidebars. To add a new Sidebar this link will need to be clicked on this page.

The first step is to configure settings for a new sidebar.

For this example, we will add a basic sidebar that pops up when users with selected security roles open a specific page in Dynamics 365.

In the main sidebar settings shown above we have configured to:

  • Display in Dynamics 365 on both a desktop or tablet 
  • Show the content when a selected page loads
  • Display it to users that have been assigned any of the two selected security role types

Further options could include setting a Sidebar that is shown when a user clicks help, a master sidebar that appears when the home icon is clicked in a sidebar, or when a specific link is clicked.

Another option could be to apply a two column template if you have a lot of content that needs to be packed into a sidebar.

Advanced options include controls to disable the sidebar header, footer and / or title.  

Next up we need to populate the sidebar:

Enter a title for the sidebar and decide how many and what type of sections will be needed.

Options for learning path sections are:

  • Text boxes - with functions for basic formatting which including hyperlinks, images and lists
  • Video - enter a URL to embed video content
  • List of links - enter a sequence of URLs
  • 1 or 2 buttons - links displayed as buttons (only good for descriptions of 10 characters or fewer!) 
  • Learning path guided tasks - link to another Learning Path content item 

The other important detail on this screenshot is the pin icon.

This must be clicked to select which page or record type the sidebar should be shown.

For example, this might be the main dashboard summary, a new opportunity or lead record, or perhaps a case list view.

In this scenario, the ClickDimensions marketing solution has been deployed and the new sidebar will be added to the Email Templates list.

To set this the pin item is selected and the usual navigation controls will be used to open the Email Templates page.

The aim of the Sidebar will be to provide new users with more context about this page and suggest some logical next steps that they might want to follow to progress an email campaign.

To get started a text box is used for Section 1 to provide an introduction.

Next, a list of links will be added. These will contain help topics enabling users to easily find and access resources that are relevant to this content.

Each learning path link can be to a webpage, a specific page in Dynamics, another sidebar or a learning path guided task.

For the first link, a URL has been added directing users to a knowledge article on the ClickDimensions site containing detailed information about email templates.

A further link will be added to another sidebar that will be shown on the same page.

One of the main settings controls when sidebars are displayed. 

The example we are creating is set to appear upon loading a page but another sidebar could be set to appear when a link is clicked. 

By adding this type of control to our main sidebar it means that layers of nested sidebars can be created depending on how complex you want this to be.

The link to sidebar option is selected.

Next, the target sidebar needs to be defined. That's an easy choice because only one option exists in this instance.

A further section is added to include a YouTube video which provides an overview of this topic.

To finish off some additional links are added.

After creating an email template one of the next steps will likely be to apply a template to a new email send record that will be used to send a newsletter or other campaign.

A further link is added to a 'Page in App' to create this action.

In the same way that the trigger page for this sidebar was selected the pin icon will now be used to define the Dynamics 365 page that will be linked to.

In the browser we'll navigate to the email send screen and open a new record before pinning this link.

When a user clicks this link they'll be directed to the email send new record page that will help them navigate these processes with Dynamics.

Finally we'll add a further link to Page in App that will be shown as a single button. This will be the Web Content page that appears in the Dynamics 365 settings which stores ClickDimensions surveys and landing pages.

Once complete we can preview the sidebar:

To go ahead and activate the sidebar click publish, or check in to enable other learning path authors to view this and make revisions.

The saved sidebar is now listed in the learning path content library.

Upon publishing, the new sidebar is displayed when any Dynamics 365 users with either of the security roles that we have selected visit the Email Templates page.

As mentioned in the introduction, individual users must opt in to Learning Paths. By default this is enabled but if an individual use has opted out this content won't be displayed.

Also, a Learning Path pop up won't be displayed until this component is loaded. Upon initializing it appears as:

In this state upon clicking the icon, users will be directed to the standard Dynamics 365 help and training page.

Finally, the completed Sidebar is now displayed on the Email Template list view.

If a user has closed the Sidebar clicking the icon will reopen it.

That concludes our tour of Learning Path Sidebars!

Hopefully you'll agree it's a nice addition to reinforce training points and it gives users added guidance to familiarise themselves with Dynamics 365 and the processes they need to follow. For CRM administrators and project managers this provides extra scale to distribute tips and help topics and deflect user questions. 

In our next post we'll take a look at Guided Task Learning Paths...

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