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Digital Transformation

Getting into Digital Learning: Kick-start your new career

There has been a huge rise in the importance and usage of digital and online learning over the past year, with eLearning becoming a necessity rather than a luxury for Educational & Commercial companies alike.

In March 2020, companies, universities, and schools were forced to “fast-track” their plans to implement remote learning as the world demanded it, some even condensing their 5-year plans into a 6-month period to meet this new demand. Naturally, this rapid development created a lot of publicity, leaving people wanting to know more.

As a specialist in the world of learning and digital learning recruitment, Instinct encounter and supports working professionals with an interest in how to enter the learning sector and what the career ladder looks like.

This article will highlight both traditional and new routes into the industry and outline further training resources to help those looking to retrain or upskill.


The Statistics


Following a very official survey (a LinkedIn Poll), we highlighted the main routes of those already working within the sector. A total of 164 digital learning professionals took part, and it was reported that 38% had come from a Learning & Development (L&D) background, 31% from a form of Teaching and 16% had developed from an Arts career, such as Graphic & Motion Design.

A poll outlining the career starting points for 164 Digital Learning professionals

Interestingly, 15% had reported being from “other” which shows that digital learning is open to lots of sectors – positive news for those with a particular passion for the industry who are willing to upskill in their own time.

Some individuals that responded came from professions further afield, such as Chefs, Music Producers, Journalism, and even a Scientist! This demonstrates how digital learning can be a career for all, especially for those who are looking for a change, no matter how drastic.


Opportunities for Training and Qualifications


With the sector continually growing and changing, there are several initiatives being created to help newcomers develop a career within digital and online learning. One route currently being developed is an apprenticeship, backed by Instinct as part of a Trailblazer Group, developing a standard with the Institute for Apprenticeships & Technical Education alongside 28 employers, including universities, industry, and professional bodies (further information can be found HERE)

The group are working with the Institute to develop an ‘Apprenticeship Standard’ suitable for all learning environments under the title of Digital Learning Designer. Adam Matthews, from the University of Birmingham and Co-Chair of the Trailblazer group, has also developed an online Postgraduate Certificate that will launch this summer. The interdisciplinary postgraduate course explores the theory and practice of design in learning environments and focuses on the application of knowledge and skills to improve practice and advance careers. More information can be found HERE

Girl using a laptop whilst working from home

Furthermore, Instinct has found that Teachers have taken a particular interest in the online learning space, with the past year providing them with enough encouragement to adapt their pedagogical approach and learning strategies to better-suit remote learning.

Teaching was already a popular and rather natural route into the area, and so this recent surge in interest hasn’t gone unnoticed. Liz Hudson, founder of Lexedio and also contributing to the Trailblazer Group, is currently developing a course that allows teachers and other individuals to train and enhance their existing skillsets to become Learning and Instructional Designers.

Drawing upon insights and experience from across the higher education, non-profit and private sector, Lexedio offers a foundation certificate that can be achieved by completing the entire self-paced course online. An active learning designer herself, working in a range of contexts, Liz is able to support aspiring designers through the programme, providing current insights, honest advice, and practical support.




As there is no official standard developed at this current time, there is no one defined route into the world of online learning, but this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. In the absence of a defined path comes numerous routes into the sector, more forgiving of backgrounds and previous career options due to the confidence in retraining programmes and initiatives.

With the addition of these Trailblazers and foundation courses, it seems that digital learning is finally gaining the recognition and traction it deserves. With these new initiatives will no doubt come the more defined (and official) paths into the area, as shared by other industries.

“There is incredible potential for digital technology in and beyond the classroom, but it is vital to rethink how learning is organised if we are to reap the rewards” – Geoff Mulgan.