Upskilling your people for the Future of Work

58% of UK companies are currently creating their own online learning content, with a further 37% planning to do so in the next two years. However, 35% cited a lack of digital skills as a real barrier to digital adoption and the benefits it can bring.

Capita, Human to Hybrid

Life in lockdown has prompted many of us to get stuck into some home DIY projects, with varying results. L&D is no different – and with digital authoring tools more accessible than ever, there has never been a better time for learning teams to Do It Yourself! Brightwave’s Rachel Sefton-Smith (Seffy) explores how.

With classroom training on hold for the foreseeable future, L&D departments are having to think creatively and adapt their skills and delivery methods to meet the needs of their learners. In recent weeks we’ve seen a surge of interest from internal learning experts looking to rapidly upskill to produce effective digital resources and run virtual classrooms.

Upskilling can be self-directed or requested. And it might involve individuals or in many current cases, whole teams at scale.

Your trainers, SMEs, and coaches are already highly skilled at designing and delivering face-to-face training experiences. But when it comes to transferring those skills into designing and creating effective digital learning interventions, it can be hard to know where to begin.

Based on our experience of helping clients build their in-house capability, here are some tips to get you started.

Like the best DIY projects, you need the right tools for the job, a clear set of instructions and a process to build in the right order. So, here are some tools, design techniques and processes to get started.


You may find yourself in a position where you have a sudden need to create digital learning yourself, perhaps for the first time. You may already have an authoring tool licence but lack the experience you need to get started. Or you may need to source a tool from the many and varied options available in the online learning marketplace.

Authoring tools available will all make claims to be the best tool on the market, but the truth is that they all have strengths and weaknesses. The skill is in defining your own requirements and matching a tool’s characteristics to them.

Your requirements would typically be areas such as learning design complexity, ‘learner’s’ choice of device, hosting solutions, data tracking needs, tool ‘user’s’ technical aptitude and visual design skills, team collaboration needs, accessibility compliance, and translation needs.

Once you’ve chosen an authoring tools based on your needs, you will want to get up and running as quickly as possible. If you’re completely new to the tool, the most effective way to start putting content and courses together is to look for those features that give you ready-built course structures, templated interactions and questions to copy, or pre-set visual design implementations to use. Most tools include some level of pre-built elements, though the way they make them available for use and the effectiveness of each approach varies wildly.

Top tips for learning design

Having chosen your tool, what do you do with it? It’s not as simple as just recreating your half-day face-to-face course in an authoring tool. In fact, we often recommend you start with a blank sheet of paper. Here are some of our tips to get you started.

  • Identify a problem: Always start by working out what business problem or behaviour you are trying to address and focus your content on providing the learner with the knowledge, skills, and practice opportunities to solve it.
  • Blend: you don’t need to build an hour of ”click ‘next'” e-learning with a test at the end. Instead think bite-size, mini-games, signposting to existing resources, and spaced nudges of activity delivered over a period of time.
  • Audio and video: You can still use audio and video, even if it’s recorded on your phone. Or how about interviewing an expert on a video call and using the recording in your module? Look at how some TV shows are having to adapt and adjust their programme formats to do this right now.
  • Real people, real stories: storytelling, personal experiences, quotes – authentic material that learners can really relate to – brings content to life and makes for a more memorable learning experience.
  • Writing style: write clearly and concisely, using a conversational tone as if you’re an expert giving guidance. Then try reading it back to yourself out loud, as that immediately highlights improvements. If you have company tone of voice guidelines, follow those. Don’t forget to consider the reading age or experience level of your learners and avoid jargon.
  • Looking good: follow your branding guidance, keep a consistent visual style, and make sure images are meaningful and reinforce content rather than distract from it. Many tools offer in-built graphic libraries, or you can sign up to a royalty-free image bank.


Once your tools and techniques are sorted, there’s still more to consider in order to get the job done. Here are some of our tips for pain-free production processes.

  • Plan: get signoff from stakeholders on a high-level content map before building. Even though many authoring platforms encourage you to write straight into the tool, it’s usually much quicker to change your plans on paper – or in Word – especially when making changes to the structure or flow.
  • Set limits: when you’re learning something new it can be tempting to try every cool feature and component all at once. Be selective so you improve quickly, and so you don’t overwhelm your learners or overspend your time.
  • Quality check: mistakes distract and turn off learners, so just because you’re working quickly, don’t skimp on quality. Spellcheck and proofread, and make sure layouts look good on PC, tablet and phone.
  • Learner lens: test out early versions with your target audience. Fail fast and iterate. Evaluate results and keep improving!

Find what works – and what doesn’t – for your people and organisational culture. Whatever your timescale, make room to scope and prototype. Fail early, learn quickly, and build on success.

Now more than ever, learning and development teams need to enable their people to meet the demands of these business unusual times. The efficacy of what we’re giving our people to keep them in the flow of work will help them to successfully navigate the flow of life.

Brightwave are working to support clients with these challenges today and would love the opportunity to share our experience with you.


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