Digital Learning is evolution not revolution

2nd Aug 2017

The introduction of Digitalisation can often be perceived as a negative change. Whilst change is inevitable in almost everything we do, the pace at which technology changes and impacts almost every element of our lives, magnifies the varying levels of acceptance and reluctance to adopt it, both as individuals and as businesses.

The once core technology of digital learning delivery, the LMS, is claimed by some as dead, old or out of date and are looking for the next technology. Others are still adopting tried and tested digital technologies to deliver learning and some out there are still managing their learning via excel spreadsheets.

Digital learning as a whole is going through a technological transformation. It is evolving through wider adoption and innovation to meet a growing demand and will continue to do so, as LMS becomes NexGen LMS, which eventually becomes something else.

A classic example of the transformation that digitalisation can bring is evident in the process via which we now obtain a driving license.

Since being first introduced in 1903, the process has evolved enormously over the years, yet it's aim remains as simple as its inception in 1931: to ensure driver road safety.

Digital innovation has made the process unrecognisable to the early days, but the same outcome remains, it has simply kept up with the changing pace of technology in our world.

1965 A centralised licensing system is set up at a new centre in Swansea, taking over control from individual councils
1973 Computerised driving licences are issued from March, with green paper licences replacing the old-style red booklets
2000 The touchscreen theory test is introduced
2000 CD-ROMs made available for testing users knowledge of the highway code
2001 Candidates can book their theory test via the Internet for the first time
2002 A hazard perception test is introduced into the theory test. Video clips are used to test candidates' awareness of hazards on the road
2003 Candidates can now book their practical test online
2010 Apple release the app store giving access to apps testing users knowledge of the highway code
2015 Online Highway code enhanced to be made more accessible
2017 Learner drivers must be able to follow directions from a satleitte navigation system to pass their test

Source: http://www.autoexpress.co.uk/

The aim of Digital learning is no different, it is there as another means to deliver and receive knowledge, an evolving tool in the armoury of the L&D professional.

Current climates see organisations constantly striving to deliver products and solutions quicker, leaner, cheaper and more effectively than their competitors. Technology is often the catalyst to bring about these changes, allowing their goals to be realised.

In the same way, the learning world has not been immune to this 'efficiency' evolution.

There has, and continues to be, a nervous undertone that "Digital learning" comes hand in hand with negativity and resistance. A replacement for other means of learning delivery.

This is something which I find is a sad fact, as I regularly reassure clients that digital is simply a ‘part of a blended package’. Used well and accompanied with existing methods of learning delivery, digital can achieve fantastic results.

So why is there still resistance out there?

Digital Learning is evolution not revolution

When looking at Rogers Curve of adoption and innovation theory, you can see that people will always adopt technology, but will do so at different stages. The curve divides the population into five groups. At one end, you have your innovators of technology and, at the other end, you have people who don’t embrace technology until a much later date.

The introduction of smartphone technology and its perceive rate of adoption is a good example. We see this as a rapidly adopted technology, an everyday essential of our busy technology filled lives. How could we have possibly got by without one back in the 1990’s?

The reality is that the first ever touchscreen smartphone was released in 1992 by IBM. The Simon Personal Communicator was a veritable brick and more than 15 years ahead of the iPhone, but does anyone know anyone that had one?

Steve Jobs is a classic example of the 2.5% of innovators by launching the technology as the iPhone, still the most popular Smartphone on the market today. Very few people you know would have purchased the first ever iPhone and the ones who did would be in the early adopters group.

Roll on a couple of years, when the iPhone 4 is released, and we are now seeing lots of smartphones in circulation (Early Majority). The market flourished with other competitor companies providing more innovative products in the market to meet a growing thirst for smartphone technology (the Late Majority). As we approach the 10 year anniversary of the iPhone, there will be very few people who would not be willing to adopt a smartphone and these people fall into the 16% of Laggards.

So, what can we, as L&D professionals, take from this example?

Importantly, we should never cease to embrace great digital learning or suppress what digital learning can achieve. Digitalisation is inevitable and learners are going to adopt the new technologies eventually, at their own pace.

A trend that seems to be successful in bringing all the groups of Rogers curve on a journey to all adopting that piece of technology, is to drip-feed innovations and don't release them all at once.

Digital isn't here to take over, it is here to reinforce, compliment and co-exist. It's simply an evolution of the requirements of our modern-day world, where companies and the internet are 'live' 24/7, working hours are increasingly global, connecting colleagues and locations, with social learning and online portals all playing a bigger role than ever before.

Is it not a revolution, a take-over, making other existing methods redundant, is it simply a change in delivery method, which lends itself to all other technological advancements happening in our modern lives. A few years from now, learning via Augmented Reality headsets will feel as normal as completing an eLearning module today.

The benefits of digital learning are quite profound. Not only being able to provide consistency of information, 24/7 access, tracking and reporting, mobile learning "on-the-go" (amongst many others), organisations also realising the advantages digital learning can bring.

  • Ease of crossing the boundaries of language via simple multilingual translation ability
  • Lowering pollution levels, as travel and building requirements lessen, as well as vastly eliminated use of paper
  • Being able to deliver a combination of learning techniques and experiences with visuals, audio, read/write activities and hands on exercises, available in one place, connecting people with video and real-world scenarios.

We will always encounter people who will not embrace technology as quickly as some and this is OK, all we can hope is to educate and break down the stigma that digital is not a negative change.

Digital Learning is evolution not revolution

As well as the continued development and innovation of our NexGen Learning Management System - glo™, Digits have been involved in numerous digital learning projects to enhance existing face to face learning interventions.

One recent project for Hampshire County Council, allowed them to reduce a 2 day course to a 1 day course, accompanied with eLearning.

This introduction of digital has reduced cost, made it more sustainable and given learners a blend of varying experiential learning. The eLearning was designed in such a way to be very different from the workforce's previous experiences. The module had gamified activities and had a modern, vibrant and engaging look and feel.

Digital Learning is evolution not revolution

Digits have also produced an online onboarding process for B&Q. This took on boarding from reading large volumes of paper based materials to a smart, interactive, gamified learning journey, giving access to a range of different digital learning activities, accessed on your own smart device, in the comfort of your own home, before you would even start work at B&Q.

If all of this sounds like something you are struggling with then drop us a line.

We are real people, not wannabe superheroes and are passionate about giving you a digital or blended solution that works in your world.

About the author

Toby is the Creative Account Manager for Digits and works closely with clients to capture their requirements, apply creative treatment and then work with the Digits production team to turn the requirements into reality.

Before working at Digits Toby's background was in digital design and has a BA Hons in Visual Communication from the University of Central England. He held previous positions as Digital Technology Lead for Workforce Development at Hampshire County Council and a trainer for Apple.