The Learning Coach: Rethinking learning as a community

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Written by Jane Daly on 3 February 2021

The power of a unified community should not be underestimated, particularly when they share a concern, passion or vision for something that changes lives.

Yesterday Captain Sir Tom Moore died. Last summer he gained national, and international recognition for his now famed walk up and down his garden for the NHS. He wanted to give something back to the people who were putting their own lives on the line for others. He inspired us all and touched our hearts in a way that most could not and had raised £32m for the NHS by the time he celebrated his 100th birthday.

"We will get through this and come out of it stronger, more united and ready to face any challenge together." Captain Sir Tom Moore

Two years before Swedish schoolgirl Greta Thunberg started calling for stronger action on climate change. Her message to the world ‘School strike for Climate’ went viral and in just two short months over 20,000 students around the world joined her to strike, protest and raise awareness of the climate crisis.

These two individuals show the power of the community and how a committed group of individuals can make a real difference.

Is it time to rethink learning as a community?

A new study led by the eLearning Network (eLN) in partnership with PeopleStar, think it’s imperative that the learning community share their voice, and this is why…

Believe it or not, the learning industry does not have enough quality strategic evidence. The industry is not making evidence-informed decisions or effectively tracking and tracing all of the critical success factors it needs to.

Without this approach, it can’t fully assess what’s driving professional impact and what’s not; that is the profile of the community, its health, wellbeing and energy levels and ultimately its collective capability to add high value and the right level of impact at the pace and scale people and the economy need.

This study does not repeat other valuable industry studies, but instead compliments them. It’s designed to dig deeper into the roots and explore a number of areas that have not been questioned before.

It focuses on the industry culture, context, behaviours, sense of belonging and wellbeing as well as the critical needs of the community and therefore, what conditions and support they now need to adapt, step up and drive more success.


One of the most exciting things about this independent and longitudinal study is that it will create the first ‘behavioural insights unit’ for the community. This insight will gather evidence from multiple sources, both from within the industry and outside.

This not only drives reliability and credibility but is also helps set a robust baseline, that over time, can trace and track movement to see what real difference any investment and support makes (or not) so we can build, test, and learn until we see evidence of value through professionalisation.

What’s in it for the learning community?

The global pandemic has accelerated and amplified the need for the learning industry to adapt workforce development for a distributed and digital-first world of work. Worklife will never be the same again and to sustain impact at the right level of scale and complexity requires the industry to first adapt itself.

There’s no doubt that the opportunity to adapt is exciting. That it’s the most energising time to be a learning professional while also being incredibly overwhelming. This point of ‘pivot’ is precisely the time when opinions must be shared, and voices heard. The industry will be stronger, more resilient and successful if we work together. 

Gathering rich evidence is critical but just as critical is how the industry co-creates its future, so along with this study, eLN and PeopleStar will make sure that the community also has the opportunity to be involved in deciding what support it requires to succeed.

The eLN is also committed to rapidly respond to the priorities that the analysis from the study reveals, so it’s not just another study – it’s a study that drives evidence-informed decisions that matter to the community and that generates practical people focussed support.

The eLN is on a mission to inspire lifelong learning, advance knowledge, and strengthen the learning technology community by providing opportunities for members to keep up to date with the latest advances in digital learning and to explore best practice.

eLN’s viewpoint and influencing power is envious because their members and connections are from different backgrounds and bring all sorts of experiences to share, discuss, and debate. Their ears are pricked, their doors are always open and they pride themselves on demystifying the often-complex world of elearning by:

  • Making learning technology easier to understand
  • Providing access to best practice information.
  • Providing opportunities to collaborate, share knowledge and experience.
  • Promoting excellence and innovation in learning technologies

The industry has many obstacles to overcome, including recognising its own biases, but the opportunity for the learning industry is huge, but so are the risks because it’s still a fragmented and immature industry struggling to professionalise, keep up, stay ahead, deliver excellence consistently and prove it’s worth

Three simple steps to make a difference

  1. Complete the survey. Between now and 26 February 2021, take 10-15 mins to rethink learning and share your voice. Be honest, be brave and enjoy this time to reflect on your future. Your time will not be wasted. As the eLN will share critical insights from this study in March and April and act to support the community grow and transform. TAKE THE SURVEY
  2. Pass the survey on. It’s imperative we hear from a variety of people, both from within the industry and outside of it, so we need your help to increase the reach. The best way to encourage people to participate is to pass it on directly to those people who you’d like to hear from that is: leaders, learners, managers, peers, advocates, resisters using a direct message. Direct approaches have been proven to increase participation by 60-80% so please contact your network by email, social or text and share the link.
  3. Join the survey conversation. There are so many ways to join in and get involved. If you share your contact details as you complete the survey, you will be invited to an early insights sessions in March and April where you will be able to hear highlights of the study and influence how they are used.

Join the Rethink Café on 17 February, it’s free and will capture live insights and explore the future of elearning and professional networks.

Let’s make this count, together!


About the author

Jane Daly is the founder of People Star and People Who Know.

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