Diversity Learning– going beyond online

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Most large employers, universities included, use e-learning to introduce the topics of equality, diversity and inclusion to their workforce.  These modules helpfully set the scene, clarify rights and responsibilities, encourage reflection and occupy an important place within a diversity learning and development strategy – it’s a great place to begin.  Often, they prompt as many questions as they answer, and they represent just the start of a diversity learning journey.  One sign of an engaging diversity e-learning course is if it leaves learners keen to find out more.


So why not move away from seeing on-line diversity modules as stand-alone and compliance-based, and use them as a springboard for deeper engagement?  How can we grasp opportunities to go beyond online and embed the impact of this initial learning?  Here are my 5 top tips and I’ve included links to helpful resources.

1 – Provide post-e-learning exercises or activities, either for employees to do individually, or for managers to facilitate with their teams. Provide tools which enable reflection and reinforce key messages and don’t let online learning fall into a void.  By involving managers as facilitators, this builds their subject knowledge and confidence, and increases capacity for wider messaging too.  And staff feel more actively supported with their learning.  Here are a couple of suggestions for activities:

IWD Lean In Presentation – 50 Ways to Fight Bias

Trusted Network activity

2 – Drip-feed information and resources to interested staff to keep topics alive. There is a wealth of thought-provoking articles, blogs and toolkits out there which can be shared.  Be selective and where possible chose items which align with internal or external events or conversations, or which emphasise specific messages from online modules.  At Marshalls we will be sharing a different resource or nudge with clients every month to sustain and deepen learning, and collating these in an online resource library.  Here are some of my recent favourites:

Guide to Allyship

Your Brain is Wired for Negative Thoughts – here’s how to change it

A Guide to LGBTQ2+ Inclusion

3 – Follow up e-learning with facilitated workshops. Most organisations have a programme of equality, diversity and inclusion-related facilitated sessions.  But are these separate from or aligned with your online module/s?  Is your approach adequately blended?  On-line learners will benefit from the opportunity to discuss the e-learning module and to explore content in greater detail.  To maintain momentum, it’s helpful to think about timing of facilitated sessions and how the learning opportunities that you provide form an integrated programme.

4 – Use e-learning to spark internal conversations. There is nothing more powerful than people sharing thoughts, experiences and stories, particularly where this is role-modelled by leaders.  Pose questions about online content and create opportunities for a collaborative approach, giving people the chance to learn from and teach each other.  Encourage debate on the back of your e-learning on message boards and in other forums.  Why not record a series of conversations between people from different backgrounds?

5 – Find out how online content resonates with your learners’ experiences. Do the expectations and best practice that is described in your e-learning match the day-to-day?  Consult with employee networks or take the opportunity to undertake a wider equality, diversity and inclusion temperature check.  Use your e-learning to help your organisation learn about itself!


In our twitter chat I’d like to explore how you go beyond online with your diversity learning.  Here are some initial questions for you to consider:

  1. How do you approach diversity learning in your organisation?
  2. What makes your approach successful?
  3. How do you use coaching conversations or your coaching skills to explore opportunities?
  4. How do you currently position your online diversity modules? How can you build on these and use them as a springboard to keep learning alive?



Marshall E-Learning provide diversity, inclusion and unconscious bias e-learning to most universities in the UK, all universities in the Republic of Ireland and recently universities in Canada, Australia and the United States. The latest course from Marshalls is Let’s Talk About Race in the Workplace, hosted by Maggie Semple OBE, a preview of which can be seen here.

In 2021 they have opened their diversity consultancy offering headed up by Ann Allcock who has 25 years’ experience in equality, diversity and inclusion, and knows that learning about difference never stops for individuals or for organisations.  Ann will lead the discussion at this Staff Development Forum twitter chat, on the topic of Diversity learning – going beyond online.  We hope you will join us.