Skillsoft Blog

Exploring Digital Immigrant Perceptions Toward Leadership Development

We’re pleased to bring you a guest post by Roderick Millar, Managing Editor at IEDP, the executive development information portal and of Developing Leaders magazine. Find more at

By Roderick Millar, Managing Editor, IEDP

If you ask a leader whether they would like to engage with a learning program that fits around their schedule, does not involve travel, allows them to interact with peers and experts, gives them direct access to the latest thought leadership and is often less expensive than a traditional learning program, it is not surprising that they tend to agree that this would be a wonderful thing. When you make it clear that that is exactly what modern elearning programs can do, often their demeanour on the topic changes.

This is an area of curiosity that we are currently researching at IEDP.  From recent anecdotal discussions there seems to be a perception problem with the elearning medium which is quite at odds with current reality. Without wanting to prejudice our current research, it seems that the negative impressions from executives is partly a matter of outdated preconceptions and a concern about building ‘trust and empathy’ with other participants. Clearly the only way to change outdated attitudes is to provide newer information.  To do so, a stealthy approach needs to be adopted, where smaller groups can be introduced to modern versions of online learning and participate in blended approaches.

The trust and empathy issue is a more enduring nut to crack, and ultimately it is only going to be done so by people trying out the learning solutions and becoming more comfortable with them. Gen Y and to an even greater extent Millenials are ‘digital natives’ who stereotypically have more ‘virtual’ friends than they do traditional ones (those they have actually met) – these groups as they progress through their careers will have no barriers to cross in establishing trust and empathy with others online and of course they hold contemporary perceptions about current elearning. The older amongst us, the Gen Xers and BabyBoomers, are ‘digital immigrants.’ We did not grow up with the Internet and computers. The challenge for the immigrants is to open ourselves a little more bravely to experiencing and embracing today’s online learning.

IEDP is conducting some research on Attitudes and Perceptions to Online Learning – why not share your views with us at

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