Technology tools, as we know them today, have proliferated Learning & Development (L&D) since the days of the overhead projector. Elearning arrived with the promise of replacing classroom training and the LMS to eliminate administration.

More than 20 years since then, L&D is grappling with even more tools, thousands of vendors, and a limited appreciation of what ‘digital’ really means — at a time when it seems to be the number one threat and opportunity for businesses, globally.

But what does ‘digital’ mean? Has L&D been doing digital in its use of the LMS and elearning?

The short answer is ‘no’.

L&D Is Being Revolutionised, If Not Totally Disrupted, By Digital

There is a clear distinction between technology-enabled learning and ‘digital’ and the difference will be felt at an individual and organisational level to the extent that these older technologies never could. L&D is being revolutionised, if not totally disrupted, by digital — and L&D must decide in the short-term whether that disruption is going to come from within, or outside, of the profession.

This article looks at what it will take to disrupt L&D from within and how embracing rather than fearing — or avoiding — digital will transform the impact of the function for the benefit of every employee in our organisations.

What’s A Digital Learning Strategy?

Your digital learning strategy is markedly different from any online learning strategy you may have drafted previously. This is due to the limitations of elearning since its inception; the predominance of the classroom, and the potential for digital, now, to disrupt and elevate corporate L&D.

‘Digital’, in the context of L&D, and beyond, means something fundamentally different to technology-enabled learning. Josh Bersin described it as “bringing learning to where employees are” and in ways we would not traditionally recognise in L&D. This was articulated well by Myles Runham, Digital Consultant, formerly of the BBC:

“I have wondered why [L&D] has changed so little despite the use of so much technology and so much use of the word Digital. My hypothesis… is that technology has become a place to hide for L&D in a digital world. The exhibition floor of the Learning Technologies event is dominated by various forms of LMS vendors, content authoring tools and systems and e-Learning content suppliers. At the risk of sweeping generalisation, these are technological developments to simplify and add efficiency to training.”

‘Digital learning’ is not about where and how to learn — the fundamental focus of L&D is changing, Andy Lancaster, Head of L&D at CIPD, describes:

“A new learning paradigm for L&D practitioners and a move away from occasional face-to-face learning sessions to learning which is embedded in the organisation. L&D teams must now focus on specific business needs, which requires a performance consultancy approach with involvement with leaders to translate goals into development actions.”

The opportunity for digital in L&D is not simply the consideration of technology-enabled learning overlaying an existing L&D offering. It’s a fundamental redesign of how employees experience L&D, for purposes important to them. This is because digital means user-centricity at its very core, and every level thereafter.

How Digital L&D Is Different To Traditional L&D

L&S disruption

Download your free copy of the ‘L&D Disruption Playbook‘ to learn more!

‘Digital’ often seems unattainable, and almost alien, to a lot of L&D, since we’re so used to using technology to push programmes and courses. But it’s actually easier, cheaper, faster, and better to run experiments rather than programmes, and this begins with key digital learning principles, which we’ll delve further into in pt 2 of this series.

Ready to disrupt L&D from within? Run an experiment with Looop.