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Is the Coronavirus Driving User-Generated Learning Content?

During this time of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, the Institute for Corporate Productivity (i4cp) has been hearing that some organizations are encouraging, and even relying on, user-generated learning content, e.g., on timely topics such as remote working, virtual teams, virtual leadership, and more. Facing sudden and extensive change, employees have needed to learn quickly how best to adjust and stay as productive as possible.

In fact, nearly half (46%) of those surveyed this week said their organizations are either leveraging user-generated learning content more, or plan to encourage it more, as work has largely shifted to home offices. 

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User-generated learning content includes any content created by employees to enhance others’ learning that was not intentionally designed and delivered by L&D professionals. The concept has been exciting and powerful in this age of rapid change that requires business agility and low cost solutions, and has represented a refreshing alternative to long training programs (whether instructor-led classroom or long e-Learning modules) that quickly become out of date and gather dust on the physical or digital shelf.

That said, challenges for user-generated learning content continue to exist, with survey respondents noting the following:

  • Lack of consistency across the organization
  • Concern regarding incorrect information
  • Lack of time for employees to create content
  • Lack of guidelines
  • Lack of tools to create, host, curate, review, and track user-generated learning content.

On that last point, survey respondents indicated a broad range of tools they are variously using from smartphones and Zoom to capture video, collaboration platforms like Teams and Slack to coordinate content creation, Sharepoint and LMSes to host content, learning experience platforms (LXP) to curate content, and more.

Given current trends, challenges, and attitudes, user-generated learning content will no doubt continue to grow, but do so inconsistently across organizations for some time to come. Only time will tell if the COVID-19 pandemic will be an inflection point in that growth trajectory, but early data suggests it very well could be.

Other findings from the survey:

  • 29% said their organizations were already big proponents of user-generated learning content, and another 15% said they try to encourage it but have had difficulty gaining traction in the past.
  • Only 30% indicated that they consider such content to be highly or very highly effective, but a far lower 7% said it was not very effective.
  • Only 7% said they do not encourage user-generated learning content, due to concerns such as accuracy, liability, etc.

Download the full survey results—due to the current global health and productivity crisis affecting everyone, i4cp is making all related ongoing research publicly available.

We also encourage you to visit i4cp.com/coronavirus for other employer resources including discussion forums, next practices, useful resources, and more.

Thomas Stone
Tom is a Senior Research Analyst at i4cp, with over two decades of experience as a writer, researcher, and speaker in the learning and development and broader human capital industry. He is also author of multiple books, including co-authoring Interact and Engage! 75+ Activities for Virtual Training, Meetings, and Webinars (second edition from ATD Press, 2022).