February 7, 2022

Transformed or Transitory? : Our Take on Raconteur’s 'Digital Learning' Report

Melissa Malec

This March, Raconteur published its 2021 ‘Digital Learning’ report in The Times. The topic is extremely timely. We’re coming up to a full year of Coronavirus restrictions, where in-person learning was largely impossible, so the impact and direction of digital learning on all learning sectors are more telling and important than ever before.

In this article, we’re sharing what we at Learnerbly thought of the report’s findings as well as the questions it has left us pondering.

As we are a workplace Learning and Development platform, we were most interested in the topics and data that spoke to learning at work. We paid particular attention to the treasure trove of infographics on pages 14 and 15.

Digital is in-demand

Let’s first look at the demand and relevancy of digital learning. It is reported that before the pandemic, only a combined 19% of people preferred to engage with online or virtual learning. Since the pandemic, demand for online learning has skyrocketed to a 71% increase among end-users and a staggering 82% among stakeholders. 

When we look at those statistics, it’s important to note that they don’t necessarily mean people’s preference for learning has changed. For the most part, it’s their reality that has changed. 

When in-person learning is not possible, it only makes sense for learners to demand resources and opportunities in an accessible format. In our remote world, that equates to digital learning. But before the pandemic, face-to-face was the clear preference and after a long pause in socialisation, humanity is craving connection, and the preference for learning with a group in a semi-formal setting may return.

Strategies to give their people what they want

Now let’s look at the infographic ‘Workplace learning has changed since the pandemic’. In the last year, many businesses have had to go into survival mode. Still, some were lucky enough not to have their operations derailed by the pandemic, meaning they could focus on things such as changing their L&D strategy to suit a remote office. 

Change, unless propelled forward by major events (looking at you COVID-19), is often slow, which will account for the 60% of businesses who feel their newly adopted digital offering is ‘immature’. When building a new strategy, many aspects will feel underdeveloped because we need time for the solutions to be found, feedback to be given, and iterations to take place. It’s okay if the solution feels immature as long as you’re prepared to go on the journey of learning from it and improving.

Are L&D platforms in crisis?

It is concerning for a workplace learning platform to see the graph above. Their existence relies on businesses trusting them to provide learning solutions and if we’re to trust that the demand for digital learning plays a role in this lack of confidence, then platforms will need to adapt quickly and regain the trust of their clients.

In the image above, we see a decrease in ‘don’t know’ answers. We can probably assume that those who were unsure in 2019 have in 2020 become more certain one way or another as to the fitness of their learning solution in being just that - a solution.

Our CEO Rajeeb Dey MBE read the report and reflected on the data and Learnerbly’s own experience with digital learning. 

‘It was fascinating to see data around the confidence of businesses in their digital learning solutions and whether they found existing learning platforms to be fit for modern workplaces. It’s something that learning platforms and marketplaces like ours have had to adapt to rapidly in the last year. Before this, digital learning was an emerging trend, now it is an essential feature. 

Modern workforces have become more distributed and because of that, UK-based companies can have people working all over the world. There needs to be digital content and resources to enable all employees to have equal access. 

As a multi-modal marketplace with different resources, including books, events, conferences and more, we had to make adjustments to our own offering where those physical and in-person opportunities are not available. Therefore we launched a purely digital content experience for clients to ensure employees can access great content regardless of location. 

As the world opens back up, we know that true equality will mean introducing in-person opportunities as well and we will continue to strive to provide an enriching multi-modal learning experience to enable everyone to learn what they want based on how they want.’

Questions for digital learning as we head out of lockdown

Overall, we found the report backs up many of the things we’ve been observing in the industry and this article simply gives context to why some of that data might look the way it does. 

When we finished reading the report we were left with some lingering questions as to the future of digital learning within the workplace:

  • Companies may not be flocking back to the office or spending every day of the workweek there but will learners flock back to face-to-face learning experiences? 
  • Or has this year of digital learning forever altered the way they want to learn? 
  • And if businesses see learning platforms as unfit for modern workplaces, how can they [learning platforms] earn their trust and improve their offerings to cater to current needs?

All in all the encapsulating question is: Is this transformation of workplace learning a trend that never fades or simply transitory?

Next week we’re diving into page three of the report, providing our two cents on whether remote work is — or isn’t — damaging our ability to learn.

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