Developing a learner-centred toolkit
BBC Academy

Developing a learner-centred toolkit


Challenges and opportunities

The BBC Academy supports the training and development of over 20,000 internal staff, including journalists and production staff, working within TV, radio, online, multi-platform and mobile, as well as in external production companies.

The Academy realised their approaches to training and development were increasingly out of sync with emerging informal and social ways of discovery and learning in a digitally connected world. They asked Engine to help them develop a new strategy for learning that would support how they help staff with personal development, inspiration and new ways of working.

Engine worked with internal teams to research existing ways of learning and working and used the insights to co-develop and test a new strategy and toolkit to support the learning, inspiration and outputs of all their staff. The toolkit was piloted internally to inform and direct creative content for the BBC.

  • BBCA1_sml

What we did

To understand how people learn in a digitally connected world, Engine began with a deep exploration of learners’ attitudes, activities and aspirations towards learning and discovery.

We interviewed experts in different styles of learning, both within and outside of the BBC, and researched with staff to understand the experiences of people when they’re learning. Engine designed learning journals for the research participants to fill out over several weeks, which aimed to highlight their day to day activities, requirements and interactions. We also shadowed some participants at work to fully observe their needs and behaviours.

Engine and the BBC Academy team worked closely together to analyse the research insights and to begin to develop a strategic learner-centred framework. We used this to develop a new strategy for the BBC Academy, to define and direct their core proposition and how it is implemented and delivered.

The new service strategy was to ‘sustain success through creativity and confidence’. Engine used insights from the research to develop seven design principles to make the strategy actionable and appropriate for social and digital learners and to help them create ideas and content. These principles included connecting learners with relevant sources of inspiration, expertise and experience, and embedding experimentation into iterative learning processes. The principles also supported working in new ways for the strategy and decision-making at both programme and project levels.

We used the principles to create and inform a toolkit that was relevant for BBC staff. Engine tested and iterated it with members of the internal teams and live project briefs to ensure usability, usefulness and buy-in.

  • BBCA framework2 copy


The learner-centred design strategy and toolkit provided a clear, unifying vision for the BBC Academy team. The toolkit contains 40 cards arranged in seven sets, to use when generating content and designing learner-centred experiences. The cards cover a range of topics, such as understanding different learner behaviours, and include a number of matrix tools and frameworks to structure approaches to learning programmes. They also include a range of prompts and provocations to help if further inspiration is needed.

Engine designed the toolkit to be used in whatever way or sequence works for the user. We established a number of trusted advocates to spearhead the pilot and to be points of contact and support for the Academy community.

The toolkit and new ways of working were piloted across a number of real learning projects, including treatment workshops to define creative content and delivery direction, and individual brainstorms. Throughout the project, Engine and the BBC teams worked closely together to develop new internal capabilities and build the supporting culture and expertise to successfully roll out the new learner-centred strategy.

Share Developing a learner-centred toolkit no social networks

< Back to work