What can we learn from the 2021 Digital Learning Excellence Awards?


2021 is the 11th year of The Digital Learning Excellence Awards, hosted by Cegos France in partnership with AEF info.fr. Not only do they reward the best digital and blended learning systems, they also allow us to set a real benchmark of market trends.

It has been no surprise that the 2021 trends were impacted by COVID-19 with the digital transformation of learning accelerating beyond all predictions. With the conversion of “physical training” to remote learning training has evolved in several directions. Organisations have been able to ensure the continuity of their learning systems and adapt their solutions to new formats and we’ve seen new courses and associated skills developed. Remote management, Working in hybrid mode, Designing and leading a virtual class are just some of the training topics on the rise.

With these factors in mind, we wanted to recognise this significant evolution by creating a new category in the 11th annual awards: “Digital transformation of learning”.

This year we have identified three main trends:

  • Human support in the learning pathway
  • The rise of storytelling to engage the digital learner
  • The growing maturity of virtual and augmented reality

Human support in the learning pathway

Previously, a distinction was made between face-to-face and distance learning, with human support the preserve of face-to-face teaching. Nowadays, the distinction has moved to synchronous and asynchronous training. An interesting point is that collective live (synchronous) learning events are increasingly coupled with asynchronous sessions devoted to individual application, via projects, case studies or time to reflect.

We can see that L&D professionals place a great deal of emphasis on human support in general… and in particular in these asynchronous moments. The human connection in the workflow is based on exchanges between peers, social learning, tutoring and even “help desks” to assist with implementation. Organisations are thus seeking to create learning ecosystems that contribute to the development of employee skills AND generate performance in the workplace.

Storytelling to engage the digital learner

Storytelling is becoming a very important aspect of digital learner’s engagement. Storytelling is almost becoming a modality, a common running thread to draw the participant into a story, a quest, or a challenge for learning purposes.

Storytelling is even used in regulatory training courses. This is a proof if any were needed, of the impact of this trend in terms of knowledge acquisition.
Gamification relies on emotional staging and cinematographic resources to encourage the attention and engagement of participants throughout the course.

Growing maturity of virtual and augmented reality

Virtual or augmented reality projects have moved from the seduction stage to a certain maturity with real immersion application to jobs and techniques.

While VR and AR technology have proven themselves over the last few years, particularly in technical environments, their use is becoming more professional. On one hand, to provide answers to travel constraints linked to health crises (factory visits, repairing automatons, etc.) and, on the other hand, to encourage emotional anchoring (e.g. fire-safety training).

Two further points:

Beyond these three trends, there were two further salient points that stand out in this edition of the Digital Learning Excellence Awards:

  • A feeling of blues: The analysis and exploitation of learning data – and the resulting adaptive learning – did not confirm its take-off in the 2020 awards. It is however a strategic subject for the L&D function: learner experience, personalisation issues, culture of measurement… It is a subject that we will follow closely next year.
  • A crush: mention should be made of the EDTECH ecosystem, which is flourishing and bringing many technological innovations for learning. For example, mobile applications are present in almost half of the devices in the 2021 edition.

This year, the jury chaired by Patrick Benammar, Learning & Development VP of the Renault Group, awarded Safran, an international high-tech group, the Grand Prize of the Digital Learning Excellence Awards 2021 for its training system: “Industrialisation of multimodal management”. This strategic project is part of Safran University’s transformation plan to overhaul training around employee skills development and make Safran a learning company.

We look forward to the 2022 Digital Excellence Learning Awards to recognise and reward the richness and diversity of distance and blended learning deployed in organisations across the world … and to learn from it!

Interested in finding out more about the 2022 Digital Excellence Learning Awards? Contact us or get in touch by email at hello@cegos.co.uk