New research: What managers really think of your learning technology pt1

Jo Cook’s inner geek gets excited reading a pre-release version of the latest Good Practice research.

Mobile learning offers little substance, younger managers are more open to digital learning and elearning is perceived as valuable – just some of the findings from the latest Good Practice research into managers and their learning.

This is the third in a series of reports focusing on managers, 521 of them to be exact, in British companies of more than 500 employees across a variety of sectors. Their responses form the basis of “Learning Technologies: What Managers Really Think” research report.

Good Practice managing director and report co-author Owen Ferguson says that they wanted to find out “if there was a gap from what commentators are saying and what people are experiencing on the ground – especially around new tools.”

“The message we hear all the time is that people hate elearning – but it was the highest rated of the technologies we asked about. In our own ToolKit we offer 18 or 20 different types of resources, from top tips to infographics and over 2,000 pieces of content. The elearning content over performs – it’s selected more than other content pieces when people have complete freedom of choice.”

The message we hear all the time is that people hate elearning – but it was the highest rated of the technologies we asked about.

The research backs up Ferguson’s experience, with the report showing that 86% of managers “say elearning is useful in helping them do their jobs, making it their most useful learning technology option”.

Why is elearning so well regarded with managers, when the common discussion is that it isn’t up to the job? Ferguson comments that it’s “familiar to people, well established and it’s easy to access”. All are important points that form a theme to the report findings.

Face to face still most popular

It won’t surprise TJ readers that managers perceive face to face learning experiences the most useful, with 92% agreement, and 90% for coaching and mentoring. There were differences in popularity across age ranges, with 89% of 16-34 year old managers finding face to face useful. This is up to 97% of managers at the 55 years and older range.

Whilst still looking at age range, the research has provided evidence confirming what many have experience of already, that mobile applications aren’t as popular in the 55 plus age range (only 19% saying they are useful), whilst apps are found useful by 65% of 16-34 year old managers.

Ferguson comments on this, saying “age may be a proxy for comfort with technology”. The report states that “the findings highlight a difference in how easy to access different age groups find learning technologies… An alternative explanation is that older managers are more willing to be critical.”

How many apps do you have on your phone?

One element that makes the findings in this report so special is not just the sample size, but also that the interviews went out to a wide range of managers. This research wasn’t conducted online through social media.

To highlight this, Ferguson asked me how many applications I had on my phone. ’12’ was my first hesitant answer. I heard the shock in Ferguson’s voice and he was right to question this – when I looked at my phone I stopped counting at forty! The point had been made – I was someone who used and was comfortable with technology.

This research had gone out to a broad spectrum of managers and it’s their overall responses which are so insightful about how useful they find the different learning technologies that we as L&D professionals are often recommending, implementing and using ourselves. This report allows us to step out of our own experience and into the mindset of others.

More insights

Read part two of this feature Monday 20 November. Download the full report now from Follow the tweets from today’s launch on #GPWMRT


About the author

Jo Cook is the deputy editor of Training Journal. Contact her on Twitter @LightbulbJo or email


Listen to Jo’s podcast conversation with Owen here

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