Over the last two years 80% of learning managers in the UK have said they expect to see an increase in the use of technology to provide learning opportunities to their workforce. So, why does that not seem to have translated into this becoming business as usual?

Measuring trends in organisational learning

For two years now, we’ve worked with INL Consultancy and Reed Learning to produce the Learning Trends Index; an attempt to track the general attitude and spending trends of those responsible for learning and development in the UK. Thanks to the talents and hard work of our research lead on this project, Stef Scott, we now have a useful historical record to examine longer term trends in the provision of learning in organisaions and are able to highlight some of these in the report along with all the data.

Learning Trends was originally inspired by the ASTD’s Learning Executives Confidence Index (LXCI) report, but focused on the UK market and with a slightly broader question base.

While the comparison with the equivalent questions from the US respondents is quite interesting in itself (you can find the latest LCXI report on their website), what’s really caught my eye is how consistently our respondents have highlighted technology based learning, informal learning and social media as key areas that they expect to grow.

Intent versus delivery

This makes perfect sense. The economy is tough and everyone is being asked to do more with less. Technology, in particular, has always been a way for society to get more done with less effort/resources. However, one interpretation of the results of the Learning Trends Index is that, whilst the desire is there, the reality is proving slower than anticipated.

For example, we’ve seen a consistent 30% or so of respondents say they expect to see a significant increase in technology based learning and around 50% report that they expect a minor increase. Those that expect to see a reduction barely even register.

But why has this number not changed over the last two years? Respondents are asked to state what they anticipate happening over the next six months, so for over two years we’ve seen consistent reporting that increases in the use of technology based learning solutions are just about to happen. For some, surely after two years of significant increases in technology based solutions, the use would be no different to the previous six months – that it would have become ‘business as usual’?

I suspect that what is happening is that many of those responsible for learning provision in their organisations see the need for change and want it to happen, but are perhaps a bit unrealistic about how quickly it might actually embed. After all, it’s a significant change which necessarily involves a steep learning curve for those in the learning function themselves.

However, that’s just one interpretation of one of the many trends we’re starting to see and one reason we. Indeed, that’s one reason why we and our partners wanted to start this report – to stimulate debate and discussion. So, please do go and download the report – it’s free – and let us know what resonates with you, what surprises you and what trends we might have missed.