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E-Learning and LINE – Six years of change

This post was written by Steve Ash and first appeared on the LINE blog on 23rd August 2011.

Sales and Marketing Director, Steve Ash, has been at LINE for over six years during which time he’s seen a fair amount of change in the industry.

I joined LINE six years ago and at that time LINE was pretty much generating traditional e-Learning content with learning objectives sections and content with quizzes throughout or at the end. At the time, six years ago, that was pretty much what e-Learning was all about.

Since then I think two core things have happened. Firstly, what constitutes e-Learning has changed; partly because the technologies are different now, partly because they’re more sophisticated and partly because organisations are more mature in their ability to adopt technology as a vehicle to transmit learning. So nowadays e-Learning can be mobile, it can be virtual classrooms and it can be proper blends. By blends I mean it’s not just a piece of e-Learning you do before you go on a face-to-face course; the e-Learning is actually blended into the activity itself. It can be learning communications which have been created digitally; whole campaigns which blend things together. And that is a complete change to what we, and most other organisations in our line of work, were doing six years ago.

Secondly, what LINE actually does with client organisations has changed considerably. Six years ago we would pretty much respond to a tender because a client had presented us with a direct request. Increasingly now, particularly the last two years, we’re getting clients asking us more strategic questions. It’s as though they’re realising that what we do is increasingly important within their organisation, and perhaps the benefits are becoming more obvious. But also they can see that in addition to content, we’ve a whole host of expertise which they don’t have within their own organisation. So more and more we’re being asked what the solution might be rather than simply responding to a solution that has already been defined. And to get the most of an organisation like LINE that is exactly the sort of position they need to be in. We can understand an organisation and get under their skin if they share and partner with us, if they share organisational objectives, the struggles they have, the pain that they’re suffering and present that as a case for us and them to collectively solve. That is something that we didn’t touch on six years ago and now the consultancy arm is particularly strong and it doesn’t matter which sector we operate in because the specialism that they’re buying from LINE will cross all sorts of different sectors whether it’s corporate, public or defence based.

As part of our broader offer, we’re being involved with clients in different ways. Six years ago we would have been asked to build something, we would have presented it and we’d put it on their learning management system, for example. These days they’re as likely to ask us to build a learning management system for them, they’re as likely to be their outsource partner where we place a team within their organisation who work with their subject matter experts and who work with their programme managers to create, to define and deliver a solution which will actually make an impact upon their business results. Again, this notion that we work in true partnership with organisations as a part of their delivery team, is a big change.

Managing scale

One of the biggest things to have changed since I joined LINE is the way the company has shifted from a distinctly UK client base, to something now that’s truly global. We’ve got teams of people working out of Scandinavia, we’ve people in America, in Central Europe, we’re looking at organisations and opportunities in the Middle East, and we’ve got a big opportunity which we’re starting in South Africa. So not only are we developing solutions for organisations that have a global presence but we’re actually taking our expertise to where they need it to be and helping them implement and design those solutions right from the very beginning.

LINE is the UK market leader for the development of bespoke e-learning solutions. E-Learning is a core part of what we do but the whole offer is much broader than that. We’ve developed teams with specialism in a range of different areas such as organisational design, change management and obviously learning and development. When clients come to LINE they don’t just get a content partner; there’s so much more to LINE than there was six years ago. Learning content is an important part of what we do, but we’ve grown the business over the last five or six years to over 100 people and within that skill set we have teams who can focus on consultancy; change management consultancy, organisational development consultancy and technical consultancy. We have the scale to be able to put teams in organisations to work with their tools, and to create content for them in-house.

We’ve put teams into organisations that have never used e-Learning before, that are unsure of its potential and also its pitfalls. We’ve done this a number of times so that we can circumvent all of the pain and problems that they normally encounter by bringing our experience to the table. Having the scale to be able to do that with global organisations means that we’re in a position to develop really quite deep relationships with our clients and that’s what we’re about. That’s what the core focus of this business is here to do; to understand the client so deeply that we’re are a part of their team and that we work in their way and that deliver results for them through the skills and knowledge that we bring into their organisation.