Developing your digital skills

On Thursday I delivered a session at the Learning and Skills exhibition and conference. ‘Putting Human at the Heart of Digital’ was a session focussed on what makes content engaging and how we go about developing the skills we need as L&D professionals to develop that content.

I was really surprised when I asked how many people outsource the development of digital content there was only one hand raised. However, when I asked how many people developed digital content internally, every hand, other than the first one, went up. Exploring the reasons for this, it was clear that L&D departments don’t always have the big budgets needed to outsource content development. What was also interesting in the session and in the conversations that followed is how many L&D professionals are battling to develop the digital skills required to develop engaging content not knowing where to make a start.

There is a need to turn the dial up on digital content development.  According to Towards Maturity research I referred to in the session, 76% rate overall quality of learning design the most important factor. The same report says that ‘They (learners) are also very aware of what constitutes a high quality learning experience and are critical when what they are offered does not match up to their expectations.’

Over the coming weeks I’ll be digesting some of the conversations and feedback I had. But for now, I’m interested to hear your views on this.

  • How much digital content do you outsource versus developing internally?
  • What are the skills you and your teams have developed to help you create engaging digital content?
  • Where do your development needs lie when it comes to digital skills?
  • What are the challenges for you and your organisation in this area?

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  • An interesting discussion to be sure.

    Want to throw in something I have struggled with. I think the issue comes in defining what 'digital' means and what it means specifically for the organisation one is in. The word digital is branded around as something we all need to work towards but little has been done to define it - for example, should we treat it as a behaviour or in relation to programmes we need to be efficient in.

    As digital becomes a focus of each organisation to keep up with the worlds changing technologies, should HR be leading this?

    • Ooo great questions Miriam.

      I agree, defining the word digital is an important thing to do. I had a conversation just the other day about the additional words our industry 'creates' just for the sake of it. However, I don't believe digital is one of those. Digital isn't a replacement for the word 'online', for example, I don't think. Digital covers offline stuff too - think, for example, digital within classrooms. 

      I think digital could be considered a behaviour, especially 'think digital'. But in essence, I think it's more a skillset. There's a basic digital skills framework here that provides a good foundation for what skills we're talking about:

  • "The C suite believes their company is up there with Google, while employees actually have to deskill from their own technologies when they walk in the door to work".

    How many can empathise with this? Driving culture forms the heart of my own challenge, with an acceptance that there are many different starting points but not to be presumptuous that we are all starting from a zero balance. Millennials are pushed to the fore, while generation X are actually quite savvy and understated...we conducted an internal survey across the generations and found quite an equal balance in fact, metrics that blew perceptions out of the water. I think the media have a lot to do with that sadly and HR are always happy to lap it up. I did myself for a bit till I dug deeper...

    Great question, interested to hear people responses.

    • HI Jason. Great to hear from you and I totally agree. Like you I once bought into the hype around generations. Nowadays, I just buy it. I once wrote a poem called 'My Gran Bought and IPad'. It's based on a true story!

      In the session I talked about 'Choosing Digital'. Not that we have a do we don't we question on our hands. Digital has chosen us. Ingrained in all that we do. So not choosing it for learning isn't an option. What is an option though is how we go about developing digital content. If we have the budgets, and sometimes we need them, we should look externally to get engaging content developed if it's the right thing to do. However, reality is telling me that we don't have these big budgets. It's also telling me that developing digital skills seems overwhelming for many. Where do we start?

      So the choice is simple. Do we choose to nothing? Do we choose to settle for dis-engaging content? Or do we take the bull by the horns and start, piece by piece, developing the skills we need in audio, vision and interaction to make engaging digital content. For those keen to take the horns, I think we can all work together, help each other, share knowledge and resources to help the world of digital content turn up a dial or two.

      I'm very interested too in hearing other responses too. I think this can be an ongoing and very useful dialogue for all.

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