The world of learning is now social and online

There are regular enough discussions about the future of learning in organisations. What will happen to face to face led sessions? Is e-learning dead in the water? Are social learning technologies the way forward? How are people using peer based learning to support a persons own active personal learning and development? Where will leaders receive their talent development? What role does coaching and mentoring have for future leaders? What’s the role of curation and isn’t that something that happens in museums?

And these are regular enough topics of interest that the L&D world will keep itself busy like a dog running after its own tail.

Well recently there was some big news in the L&D world which signals the future of learning quite solidly. LinkedIn bought the online learning company for $1.5bn.

In a world arguably dominated by big player suppliers like Reed Learning, Hemley Fraser and The Mind Gym, psychometric companies like OPP and Pearn Kandola, and with qualifications being directed by the likes of CIPD and LPI, here’s the first time we’ve seen the floor completely ripped from under their noses. And I bet you none of them saw it coming. They definitely don’t have anywhere near the digital presence for learners to take advantage of like

I’ll go so far as to say they’re all so arrogant that they probably haven’t even got their own development teams producing digital content. Why would they when they’re winning contracts for big pieces of face to face delivery?

Except those delivery mechanisms are now redundant. Completely and utterly. LinkedIn just told us so. They want their 350 million users to access high quality learning resources on their terms, in their time, at their pace. They can access all sorts of learning content from graphic design to coding to MS Office to project management to Health and Safety.

And for all of us working in internal roles, this is the biggest wake up call we never asked for. Everyone who ever criticised online learning as being inferior to face to face led sessions has been told that those skills don’t matter anymore. Digital learning delivery isn’t just the future of the learning profession, it’s made all other forms of learning intervention meaningless.

Scared by this new future? Well it’s today’s reality.


Published by

Sukh Pabial

I'm an occupational psychologist by profession and am passionate about all things learning and development, creating holistic learning solutions and using positive psychology in the workforce.

10 thoughts on “The world of learning is now social and online”

  1. Mmm. Have you read Susan Pinker? Research on why face to face matters. If you combine this with David Goddins recent post that talks about learning from life’s pivotal and inevitable moments, we may envisage a world where everyone is aware human contact is critical for health and well being, where meaningful discussions are had face to face. Linked In will make a certain type of learning increasingly accessible. Which is brilliant. The debate about on going adult learning, with support and connection, remains relevant for me.

    1. It totally does for me too, Ali. I’m just presenting a very polar line of thought here based on this buyout. I’ve got a follow up post ready to go talking about holistic learning solutions.

  2. It depends doesn’t it on what the learning is about?

    Amazing tools out there through digital; we can learn more, differently, collectively, collaboratively; I’m not sure I see it as a replacement of the old – an evolution perhaps.

    Thinking together, resolving conflict together, creating shared purpose – these things are what humanity is.

    I think there is room for all of it.

    1. These things are totally what humanity is, and the technology can’t and shouldn’t replace those things.

      I agree with you, there is room for all of it.

  3. Hi Sukh, interesting blog post showing the seismic shifts going on in learning. Bit sad to see CIPD accused of being “arrogant” … but there you go! Yes, at CIPD we are already designing and delivering digital content; in fact our new Level 5 qualification in L&D is delivered 100% digitally and online and we are planning a whole range of new digital CPD from free to fee. And our new L&D quals have been specifically designed with units on digital learning design, social collaboration and online learner engagement. The nature of the digital world is so fast you may have missed what CIPD is up to!

    1. Hi Andy, thanks very much for taking the time to comment. I hope you understand I was being purposefully provocative and not just obtuse.

      It’s great to read the Level 5 CIPD qualification in learning is delivered 100% digitally with more being planned and on the cards. It’s really useful to know this as it will help to dispel a lot of myths about the relevance of CIPD quals to the L&D community and their delivery mechanisms.

  4. To echo Andy’s comment, it is sad to see a not-for-profit institute such as LPI be described as arrogant. LPI did infact see the Lynda acquisition coming. Lynda are an LPI accredited organisation, and we are working very closely with them. Another organisation in this space is plural sight, and I encourage you to look at what they are doing (also accredited).

    We have also been at the forefront of video in learning, with our CEO having launched Learning Now TV, providing a unique repository of videos for learning professionals. As you know we provide a free social network, the learning professional network, which allows learning professionals to share experiences and ask for help. So I would question our digital naivety Sukh.

    I would ask you to see what the LPI brings out before the end of the year in the digital space too as we intend to shake the world of learning on its head in the same way linkedin has. Watch this space.

    Finally, I do not agree that this (or Spotify’s move into video announced this week) signals the death of other forms of learning intervention. This is evolution rather than revolution, and creative learning people can uncover ways to harness the new content available to them – think organisation specific video content.

    Let’s just say the floor has not been ripped away, but more that a new carpet has been laid.


    1. Ed, I really appreciate you taking the time to comment on this post and sharing what’s happening with the LPI and the digital services you’re producing and set to provide.

      I was being purposefully provocative and your sharing of what’s happening for the LPI is a very positive response.

      I like the thinking that a new carpet has been laid out as opposed to the floor being ripped away.

    2. Ed – great that the two Institutes have a clear vision for digital. Bring on more innovation!

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