According to a recently published study by Towards Maturity’s Laura Overton and Dr Genny Dixon, leadership and management development skills is the business area that will see the greatest increase in e-learning materials over the next two years.


The study, which included the views of over 180 organisations, encompassing over 35,000 managers, concluded that the need to improve performance and lead business change is driving the adoption of leadership development programmes in some 80 per cent of organisations. This comes from the need for increase efficiency, productivity and business agility (being faster at doing things and responding to market conditions).


While the survey revealed that delivering leadership and management development learning materials via learning technologies are scheduled to increase, some 58 per cent of organisations are still delivering this learning via face-to-face (classroom-based, instructor-led) methods and only 14 per cent via learning technologies. Pessimists could point out that using learning technologies to train potential and future leaders is, thus, a poor second to the 17 per cent or so of organisations which admit doing nothing whatsoever to develop potential and future leaders.


Unsurprisingly – but encouragingly – the Towards Maturity survey has found that the biggest area of planned growth in the use of learning technologies is in the field of mobile learning, with some 25 per cent of organisations planning to use this delivery method, in addition to those which already do.


Outlining the survey’s findings at a seminar held at BMA House, Tavistock Square, in London on 15th June and organised by Towards Maturity ‘ambassador’ LMMatters, Laura Overton revealed that, when senior managers in an organisation undertake e-learning this leads, typically, to a 37 per cent increase in the amount of e-learning undertaken by the rest of the organisation’s staff. It also leads, typically, to a 19 per cent reduction in learning and development costs.


Concluding her remarks, Laura confessed that, according to Towards Maturity’s research, few organisations currently carry out systematic studies of the return on investment in learning and development and even fewer collect financial data related to a learning and development programme’s benefits.


Comment: While this Towards Maturity study offers some encouraging signs for the learning technologies’ camp – notably in terms of the continuing popularity of e-learning and the planned rise of mobile learning – there are still causes for concern. These include learning and development apathy by a significant number of organisations; senior managers’ continued preference for the ‘less technological’ learning delivery methods, and the general lack of allying learning and development activities to ‘bottom line’ results.


It would seem that learning technologists – and apologists for learning technologies – still have quite a bit of work to do before their idiosyncratic ‘sullen art or craft’ becomes not only widely used but also appreciated.