General Assembly Announces Digital Foundations



According to an Altimeter report last year, 88% of companies are undergoing a formal digital transformation effort. As a part of these efforts, many are investing significantly in digital training, either internally or externally with corporate training programs like General Assembly’s.

In talking to many of these companies, we’ve noticed that investment in digital training begins and ends with the same groups—IT, marketing, and product teams.

For companies undergoing a digital transformation, there are usually very specific problems to focus on in these divisions. CIOs and CMOs are first in line, and we understand why. But to engender a real, comprehensive transformation, businesses have to focus on getting all teams up to speed, including some of the less obvious players.

HR, finance, and operations, for instance, may not use digital skills on an everyday basis, but need to understand digital basics in order to work with the rest of the business. Additionally, members of leadership teams may not have a specific digital mandate, but need to understand how the other arms of the business are moving.

So we did some research. Professionals in teams like HR told us how digital can feel like an exclusive club and how discouraging it is to support a club when you don’t feel like you’re a member. Senior leaders told us how embarrassing it is to run meetings whose agenda items you can’t define. In response, we have been working on a way to  democratize key digital knowledge across an enterprise in a way that is quick and scalable.

Last week, General Assembly’s corporate training team launched the beta version of our new online learning platform, Digital Foundations. Digital Foundations is an online learning platform that teaches the digital basics in a way that is relevant to all teams so that everyone at your company is empowered to engage in meaningful conversations about the digital topics that matter most.

An image of a topic area page on the platform.

During the development of Digital Foundations, we partnered with Lloyds Banking Group (UK) as part of their wider £1 billion digital investment, which includes a large push to drive digital skills training for employees across the Group. Lloyds Banking Group was looking to enhance their employees’ digital knowledge and embed digitally focused thinking into the everyday planning and development of all their teams.

Susana Berlevy, Digital HR Director, Lloyds Banking Group, said, “The Digital Foundations course is just one way in which we’re providing colleagues with the fundamental knowledge to have a successful career in an increasingly digital organisation. Colleagues who complete the course will be trained to think like a tech startup seeking out the latest technologies to move quickly and develop new and innovative ways of servicing our customers.”

The first page of a lesson about the User Experience Journey, with a table of contents that shows what students will learn in the lesson.

We wanted to focus on the topics that are making the largest impact, across all business units, within more traditional organizations undergoing digital transformations. The resulting platform consists of 22 lessons organized into five topic areas:Screen Shot 2015-09-21 at 1.49.24 PM

Several rounds of user research and early testing helped produce lessons that are explicitly designed for busy professionals. The lessons are:

  • Scalable: easy to deploy across wide varieties of teams.
  • Interactive: lessons feature a variety of formats proven for optimal engagement including text, video, quizzes, and reflections.
  • Bite-sized: lessons take 15-20 minutes to complete, the ideal length based on our research of corporate users.
  • Grounded in reality: lessons center around case studies and real-life examples and include interviews with current leading practitioners.

A still from a knowledge check from the lesson “Experimentation and Application of Lean Principles.”

Early users are praising the platform’s level-setting approach: one user said Digital Foundations “ensures that all colleagues have a basic understanding of what it means to work in ‘digital.’ There is lots of jargon used and not everyone is totally tech savvy.”

Digital Foundations pairs key concepts and strategic processes with real-world examples. “You see these things on the internet, but [Digital Foundations is] quite helpful in bringing points and ideas together that we do think about, but not in the condensed way,” said one student.


A video still from an interview with the CEO of healthcare startup Sherpaa about customer journey mapping.

By building digital fluency, these teams will be able to collaborate much more productively and drive innovation in the business.

Interested in trying out the platform? Take a sample, 15-minute Digital Foundations module, which covers the basics of Data Visualization.