It has been a challenging year, but something that has inspired me over the past few months is working with learning and development (L&D) professionals in the global nonprofit sector who have tirelessly created virtual learning opportunities for staff who needed it. Most of us saw our workload increase in 2020, but those responsible for online learning in their organizations were in particularly high demand.
Without a doubt, online learning took off in 2020 at a pace we haven’t seen before. All face-to-face workshops, retreats, and training had no choice but to move online or cancel. And most often, canceling was not an option; training remains in demand. Some organizations are still hiring, and those new hires require onboarding support. Required training must take place. L&D teams rose to the challenge and helped to move training online.
Humentum Learning Services (HLS) provides our member-subscribers with access to a catalog that includes over 1300 self-paced eLearning courses on various topics, ranging from Project and Financial management to Management and Leadership skills, courses for HR professionals, and personal development. This gives us a unique perspective as we can view the learning data across our entire membership. Our members access our eLearning courses using their own Learning Management System (LMS) or using the LMS we provide, but they all access the same catalog, so we can observe trends based on the courses their staff are accessing.
While looking at the eLearning/LMS numbers for HLS subscribers from March-October in 2019 vs. 2020, for example, we can see big increases in online learning across the board. On average, more than twice as many unique learners accessed HLS courses this year vs. 2019. We saw a rise in the number of courses accessed as well. In May, for example, there was a 130% increase in courses launched. You can see a graph of this information here.
We also track our popular courses across all member LMSs, and here we have seen some significant changes in 2020 vs. 2019. Our flagship courses, including Financial Management for Development Pro, Project DPro, and Harassment Prevention training, remain extremely popular. But this year, we’ve seen new courses breaking the top 40. Again, not a surprise to see courses on working remotely and being an effective virtual team member rising up the charts in 2020. We’ve also experienced a large increase in access to courses on that topic, as expected. But if we look a little further down the chart, we see an increase in access to courses on time management, managing stress, handling emotions, and leading through change. Furthermore, courses on understanding and challenging your own unconscious bias started climbing this summer, as well as courses on diversity. All of these courses map directly to what’s going on in the world.
While I don’t mean to suggest that eLearning can solve the plethora of global development problems, it is my sincere hope that the learners who accessed these courses acquired new skills to help them face the challenges of 2020 and beyond.
I will also share another bit of learning data that I found interesting. One of our partners, Speexx, provides HLS with self-study courses which allow you to effectively learn a new language. These courses are being accessed in 2020 at a rate higher than in previous years. In May, almost twice as many Speex courses were launched compared to last May. I can’t say for certain why, as we don’t ask learners why they are taking a course. I’m guessing it has to do with people having more time on their hands, so they are finally learning that second or third language. I, for sure, would like to be learning German instead of watching the news. The optimist in me wants to believe that people are looking to learn a new language to connect with other people and cultures better.
This is an end of the year blog, so I think I’m meant to speculate on what might happen next year. I’m not a superstitious person, but I’m going to leave the predictions to someone else. What I know for sure is that whatever 2021 brings, our L&D community will be here, ready to help our organizations adapt.
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