Digital Learning - top 10 takeaways from 2018


Over the past 12 months International Workplace has talked to a good number of senior managers responsible for managing people and workplaces, and the vast majority are either unaware of just how much of a transformation learning technologies can bring; or else they are fearful of it.

So we thought we’d end the year by sharing our top ten takeaways from what has become the year of digital learning.

  1. Learning providers are struggling to keep up. Learning technologies are developing so rapidly that it’s hard to keep up. Large, established providers have to either constantly upgrade their existing content libraries, or risk them falling behind. And costs of keeping up are all too readily passed on to customers.
  2. If you don’t have an LMS, don’t buy one. This is perhaps an exaggeration. But we hear from a lot of businesses that they’re investing time and money in specifying a new (or different) LMS, where they could work more efficiently and flexibly by buying stripped down content that integrates directly with their payroll or HR system. Integration of data between existing systems is now the watch word.
  3. Learning providers don’t know how to charge you. And customers don’t know how they want to pay. The market is moving away from per user pricing towards fixed cost, but between these two extremes there is opportunity for negotiation for L&D managers who understand the market.
  4. Face-to-face / classroom learning is still often the best way to learn. We make no bones about it, and nor does the Serious E-learning Manifesto (which we are signatories to) whose first principle even questions whether learning is the right answer at all to some problems. Some people will only want to learn this way, and some people will want to be taught. It’s not the learning provider’s job to try and change this.
  5. Digital learning should hold no fear for people. We talk a lot with people who don’t have a smartphone or a tablet, don’t shop online, and describe themselves as technophobic. Whether you’re a manager, administrator or learner, the latest generation of digital courses, resources and dashboards should be easy and engaging to use.
  6. Data privacy and security are vital. We welcomed GDPR with open arms, because it forces everyone to treat data with respect. One of the biggest concerns for organisations is reputational risk, and where you’re integrating data with a third party learning provider, you need to know their systems are secure.
  7. Microlearning is a trend that’s here to stay. Learning in short sessions with regular repetition is nothing new, but there is enough statistical evidence to support the argument that it’s the best way of retaining knowledge and learning behaviours over the longer term. If you’re not incorporating this into your learning, we’d recommend you give it a go. But beware: we’re often asked to break a six-hour classroom course down into small chunks of eLearning, and it requires a more sophisticated approach than that.
  8. ‘Just in time’ is coming to the fore. The days of people having to retain chunks of information or refer to user manuals have nearly had their day. Digital tools such as workflows and checklists can give people the answers they want just when they need them. Referred to as ‘performance support tools’, they’re not necessarily even learning at all. If you have hard copy or pdf documents such as policies, handbooks or inductions, there’s a chance they’ll become part of a digital workflow before too long.
  9. Without digital there’s no real analytics. The new breed of digital learning platforms are based on technologies such as xAPI (also known as Tin Can), which are much more granular than historical SCORM-conformant systems and can provide a lot more useful data. As well as being important for analysis, it also provides an authoritative learner record over time (for example, for a professional awarding body) or to restore state following a data loss.
  10. Insight will put the client in charge. We’re already seeing that by combining learner data with an organisation’s performance data, it’s possible to give insights into cause and effect, and by tracking the impact of learning there is potential also to calculate return on investment.

Do you agree with our top ten? We’d love to hear your thoughts, or any other comments or questions you have on learning technologies - just email them to our Managing Director at


Cambridge Innovation since 1995 - International Workplace is a provider of innovative workplace learning solutions. We work in partnership with renowned employers in the UK and internationally, using our expertise in the discipline of workplace management to help them manage their people and places.

International Workplace Ltd