Defining what On-Demand means for learning

3 min read
Aug 19, 2021 12:00:00 AM

After 15+ years of Amazon changing the game with 2-day Prime delivery, it took a pandemic to reset our ‘on-demand’ expectations.

For the products and brands we rely on, suddenly we had to adapt to out-of-stocks and longer delivery times. We became more forgiving of manufacturing challenges and more willing to wait for what we wanted or needed.

Unlike this product shift, we haven’t seen the same reset for the service industry – particularly as relates to professional development.

If anything, the shift to on-demand learning expectations has accelerated.

We know this from the eLearning work we’re doing, and it’s backed up by data. Forbes estimates the worldwide eLearning market will be as big as $325 billion by 2025.

And according to LinkedIn, 79% of Learning & Development decision makers say they expect to spend more on online learning, with a corresponding 73% expectation of less spending on instructor-led training.

This trend was happening prior to Covid, but clearly the pandemic has heightened it. The benefits of cost savings from corporate travel bans, additional available time from no-commute working from home, and the increased desire for training ‘when and how I want it’ have all had an impact.

The concept of on-demand eLearning appeals to businesses of all types for a variety of reasons:

  • Availability of good quality eLearning across a wide range of topics
  • Ability to share content in a consistent fashion to a large number of people – thereby amortizing cost
  • Meets the needs of their GenZ employees – 76% of whom say learning is key to a successful career and 83% wanting to improve their skills to perform better in their current role (source:

It’s a marriage made in heaven, right? But there’s a caution here, and that’s that eLearning only makes a real difference to an organization when it aligns with the development objective.

It may be oversimplifying, but here’s one way to think about options for delivering learning, reflecting objectives for your audience and the type of content being delivered. Note that these options are not mutually exclusive – training programs can be developed using any combination of the above – again, to reflect the development objectives for the audience.

Off the shelf/standard eLearning: Ideal for basic, universally accepted concepts. Broad audience. Self-directed (when and how).

Customized eLearning: Core concepts, but with unique internal needs or dynamics. Often includes tailored interactivity and feedback. Can be broad or specific audience (function, level). Self-directed (when and how).

Instructor-led, virtual training: Often reflects more in-depth, complex concepts (with hands-on application to fully land content). Tailored content and interactivity. Expert support and feedback. Need and/or beneficial for collaboration.

Instructor-led, in-person training: Accommodates in-depth, complex concepts (full hands-on skills and business application). Fully customized. Expert support and feedback. Highest level of interactivity and collaboration.

As a reflection of client desire for more eLearning, the pandemic forced us to up our game in customized eLearning and virtual training. I’ve particularly enjoyed working with Articulate 360 course authoring software, as it provides the ability to create a customized, high quality, self-directed learning experience on any device.

My favorite client feedback comment:

"This is transformational for our business."

At Oxford, we continue to make major strides in improving the quality of our virtual training experiences.

For some clients, they feel it’s been even better than past in-person experiences due to the ability to include colleagues who might otherwise have been unable to participate.

And we continue to build blended learning experiences through OxfordLIVE – a flexible platform that maximizes the impact of learning and collaborative ways of working.

And even though it’s been invaluable in the past 15 months, I’m still a big believer that nothing can fully replace the benefits of being in the same room, working side by side with cross-functional partners to learn and apply mission-critical principles to business challenges.

Love to hear your thoughts about what’s worked (or not) for you. You can reach me at Hope to see you in person soon!

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