More thoughts on digital skills in L&D

Isn’t just everyone talking about digital skills these days? It’s like the topic du jour for everyone, all the time about everything.

I read a really insightful piece last week about how the Department for Work and Pensions are setting out to become digital innovators. Yeah, the DWP – notorious for finding inhuman ways to treat people who aren’t doing well in society – my words and my judgements, no one else’s. One of the most stalwart of government departments is jumping on the bandwagon of digital, and it makes a lot of sense that they do too. In an age when austerity has driven many public offices to fundamentally re-think how they work, turning to digital is a much needed progression.

And yet, there are still many L&Ders who haven’t moved in step and in line with digital progression – and I’m left wondering (forever) why?

There is no argument from anyone leading on the new world of L&D that face to face training and workshops isn’t still a highly useful form of learning delivery. In fact, it’s still what most L&D departments buy in terms of learning solutions. It can still be relevant, it can still deliver high quality content, and is still a highly engaging form of learning delivery.

What I’m more concerned about is the absolute lack of thinking on how digital technology enables us to provide much more rounded support when it comes to learning delivery, and a lot of it accessible to most L&Ders.

Our understanding of e-learning has come on leaps and bounds from the days of converting slide decks to simple click next training. And we’ve come on from just dumping every piece of knowledge and content into e-learning too. Those methods were never good enough and they still aren’t. We can now develop e-learning where the content comes direct from subject matter experts, in original documents, including video, no longer than 20 mins, and with much improved user experience.

In fact, the technology is now there to break away from e-learning as we’ve known it into what’s called ‘micro-learning’ or ‘bite-size’ learning. This is where you use a short video platform like Vine or Periscope, you capture a short video for how something is done and share it with your network.

We’re now learning that you can provide resources and content to people when it comes to programme / campaign based content and this means not every part needs to be face to face training. For example, instead of explaining models and theories in a classroom, why not provide the source content ahead of time, and use the classroom environment to have a full and proper debate about the content? Instead of running a training course on PowerPoint contstruction, why not send a YouTube video of someone explaining exactly that?

Whats also becoming more and more relevant is how people use online collaboration tools. Sites like Ning, Slack, Basecamp or Conceptboard allow people to contribute to collective information, share thoughts and insights and build and develop their content knowledge.

There’s more that can be done in this space and that I could describe – far more. What’s concerning to me is that there are too many L&Ders who have their head in the sand about digital and its capabilities that they’re just not providing the right kind of support to the people they’re trying to support. Instead they’re offering the same old kind of old solution which is stuck in an old way of thinking and doesn’t consider adult based learning principles or modern models and ways of thinking.

I’m not saying that L&Ders need to know everyone type of digital solution that’s out there, but we do have to better consider the inclusion of a range of learning options when it comes to learning solutions.


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.

One thought on “More thoughts on digital skills in L&D”

  1. Hi Sukh, It is an interesting post and definitely worth thinking about how things are evolving in the L&D world. For one, it definitely should take advantage of the vast eco-system of the digital tech, the tools and applications used by web designers to create better user experiences, to collaborate, to make things look prettier, more engaging and more.
    In fact, we created zipBoard ( with an intention to make the e-learning collaboration easier and let the different stakeholders come together and brainstorm visually. Do check, it out.

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