The Google Plus logo

LINE Survey 2011: what you said about mobile, learning architectures and the state of the industry

This post first appeared on the LINE blog on 13th December 2011.

The annual LINE survey is always a great chance to see what the Learning & Development community has on its mind. This year, according to our research, it is clearly thinking quite hard about mobile learning – unsurprisingly, perhaps – but also about learning architectures. And while practitioners value the expertise and original thinking they get from their supplier community, they clearly have a problem with those who fail to understand their business and brand.

Here are some highlights from the research…

Mobile learning

As can be seen from the chart above, the majority of organisations who don’t already have mobile learning in place are either starting to implement it (24%) or are at least interested in its potential (57%). Only 6% are not interested at all. This bears out our subjective experience at LINE, with an accelerating number of enquiries from clients who are interested in this area, and indicates a lot of activity around m-learning in the year to come.

Learning architectures

This was the first year that we asked the question about mobile learning, and also the first time we have attempted to gauge the market’s awareness of learning architectures, which has become a dominant theme for LINE over the last year. Though the result on mobile is hardly unexpected, confirming the findings in Towards Maturity’s (much larger) study published in November, the result for learning architectures really surprised us. More than half of respondents indicated that they were familiar with the concept; a result that we feel vindicates the effort we have put into helping practitioners understand and apply their new role as learning architects.

LINE will be running further events to raise awareness of learning architectures in the New Year.

How the provider community shapes up

One question we have asked previously is how practitioners feel in general about the external suppliers they use to help them with learning and development. There was a lot of good news here … but also ‘room for improvement’!

In the past this section has asked as a series of open-ended question, but this year we resolved previous responses into tick-box lists, which tends to produce a clearer result.

The result of this approach was to amplify last year’s findings about the benefits respondents perceive as coming from their suppliers. 76% said that the greatest benefit was ‘Expertise’, and this was far and away the most popular choice, standing well clear of the next four options; innovation/creative ideas (42%), knowledge sharing (38%), external perspective (37%) and quality product (37%).

Taken as a group, the four highest-scoring options show something interesting about the value that learning companies bring. They might think they’re in the business of providing great products and services for their clients, but obviously the intellectual ‘value-add’ plays large. Learning and development has become a far more complex field with the increased use of new technologies, requiring new knowledge, skills and perspectives. It is hard for many organisations to grow and nurture those skills, etc. in-house – as successive Towards Maturity reports have shown. Specialised expertise is therefore an important benefit that has to be hired in from outside.

That may be what organisations are experiencing in terms of benefits, but is it what they go shopping for in the first place? We also asked respondents what they were looking for from their providers, and although creative ideas, one of the top benefits they actually achieve from suppliers, were reported as important for 57% of the sample, a raft of other desired attributes were felt to be important that do not score so highly in terms of benefits actually achieved. These included quality design (66%), value for money (66%), communication (61%) and skilful project management (51%).

These results would suggest that the supplier community perhaps needs to focus more on solid implementation values to complement its ability to provide clients with good creative ideas.

What they said about LINE

LINE fared well in the survey with 100% of all respondents who use LINE as their main learning and communications partner indicating that ‘expertise’ was one of the greatest benefits we bring. The quality of products and services, innovation and creativity were also cited as major benefits of working with LINE. Respondents who cited LINE as being their main supplier for learning and communications gave their general view of the company as creative, reliable, good value, specialist and able to think beyond the brief.

‘At Line you have brought together an experienced team that is passionate about learning and technology,’ wrote one existing client. ‘With collective experience of e-learning solutions I think you have got the most talented design and development team in the business’. Others said we were ‘excellent partners’, and praised our ‘strong out-of-the-box thinking’ and ‘good project management’.


More than 100 organisations completed the survey, which was carried out online in Summer 2011. 70% of the sample was UK based, with the other 30% being drawn from the rest of the world, with a bias towards continental Europe reflecting LINE’s growing market presence in that territory.

65% of respondent organisations were from the private sector, 25% from the public, and 10 from the Not-for-profit sector.

33% were existing clients of LINE’s, and 52% were at senior management level or above (see chart).