By Corporate English Solutions

24 April 2023 - 14:51

3 strategies for personalised learning on a budget

Taking a personalised approach to workplace learning increases motivation, engagement and learning outcomes. But what if your organisation lacks resources or a large budget for expensive learning solutions? 

Developing personalised learning solutions doesn't have to be an expensive and overwhelming task. With a little creativity and collaboration, organisations can build a robust and sustainable learning ecosystem that benefits both the learners and the organisation as a whole. We share three practical (and effective) strategies you can use in your organisation.


Reading time: 5 minutes

In today’s business environment, organisations are constantly striving to improve the skills and knowledge of their workforce to stay ahead of the competition and prepare for future disruption and transformation. 

Personalised learning is particularly important in times of change. It allows your employees to acquire new skills quickly to adapt to these circumstances. And when you tailor learning to individual needs and preferences, it boosts engagement, learning outcomes and job performance. 

Despite these benefits, many organisations think personalised learning is out of reach. 

The main barriers they cite are time and money. Another obstacle is technology. Because personalised learning often relies on AI-enabled platforms, which can be expensive. In fact, 60% of organisations say they don’t have the right technology to deliver personalised learning solutions to scale.

So how can companies achieve personalised learning solutions without breaking the bank? 

Read on to discover how with three practical strategies, along with tips and tools for implementation.

1. Leverage existing content

An expanding non-profit organisation was undergoing some growing pains. They were struggling to create personalised learning programmes for new hires, as well as upskill their existing staff. With a small L&D team and an equally small budget, they had to get creative.

“We simply couldn’t afford to outsource to an external provider, so we adapted and repurposed some of the content we already had,” says Nadia, the chief learning officer. 

They determined which skills and capabilities the organisation needed to prioritise, and analysed skills (and gaps), as well as learning preferences. They used this information to make decisions about what could be repurposed into personalised learning experiences. 

The steps Nadia and her team followed can be adapted by most organisations lacking huge budgets. 

Here’s a straightforward strategy to follow:

  • Identify the learning objectives that you want to achieve with the repurposed content.
  • Review existing content. Look for existing content that is relevant to learners' needs and can be easily modified to suit their learning preferences.
  • Divide your existing content into smaller, more manageable pieces to create micro and nano learning pathways. This approach allows you to deliver more targeted learning experiences.
  • Use branching scenarios to adapt to learners' choices and decision-making. This approach allows learners to experience different outcomes based on their choices.
  • Customise existing content to suit learners' preferences. For example, by modifying the language, tone or format to fit the learning style of individual learners.

What if your L&D team doesn’t have the time to repurpose content? Consider involving other employees, especially those interested in upskilling. Nadia’s team got extra support from project teams and university interns.

2. Involve your internal experts 

Every organisation has a valuable (yet often underutilised) resource. Don’t forget your internal experts. They can support your L&D team in developing personalised learning solutions. 

Luckily for Nadia’s team, they could call upon different project management specialists in the organisation. Since they already had a directory of internal experts, identifying who could provide input was easier.

What they did next was transformative. Their need for affordable personalised learning solutions inspired a culture of learning. Bringing together internal experts and learners with common interests and learning goals encouraged the open sharing of ideas and knowledge.

You can do the same in your organisation with these practical steps:

  • Create a directory of internal experts from different teams and levels with the knowledge and skills relevant to your learning goals. You can create an internal skills marketplace by connecting learners with the experts who can provide personalised learning experiences that align with their goals.
  • Establish an informal mentorship programme so learners can receive personalised guidance and support as they work towards their learning goals.
  • Consider job shadowing, which can be an effective way for learners to receive personalised training by observing experts in action and learning from their experiences.
  • Encourage informal learning approaches between experts and learners in more relaxed and flexible settings. For example, one-on-one coaching sessions or informal conversations during lunch-and-learn events.
  • Use data to measure the impact of internal expertise on your personalised learning programmes. This can help to identify areas where internal experts can be leveraged more effectively to create personalised learning experiences.

Companies like PwC are taking a similar approach through a ‘reverse mentoring’ programme. Younger employees mentor senior leaders who want to gain new skills and experiences.

3. Use free or inexpensive multimedia resources

After doing an inventory of existing content, you may notice some gaps. Or discover that materials can’t be easily transformed into personalised learning content. 

Start by exploring open educational resources (OERs) which are freely available for use and re-use. To supplement their existing materials, Nadia and her team used such resources as OER Commons, an extensive public library of educational content.

You can also make good use of free or inexpensive tools to create your own personalised learning library. Consider exploring some of these:

  • Incorporate free online courses such as Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs).
  • Use YouTube if your organisation permits. It’s a rich source of free instructional videos. Look for videos that align with your learning goals and consider creating a YouTube playlist that learners can access as needed. 
  • Ask employees to share their expertise by creating short videos or record their computer screen to create screencasts that demonstrate a process or concept.
  • Use free online design tools like Visme, Canva and Piktochart.
  • Create a visual and audio library through royalty-free images and sound effects.
  • Use free online tools to create interactive quizzes to gamify learning and assess progress. These can be tailored to provide personalised feedback.
  • Make use of your social media platforms (Twitter, LinkedIn or Facebook) to share personalised learning content with your learners (and your network).

Final thoughts

Developing personalised learning solutions doesn't have to be an expensive and overwhelming task for organisations. By leveraging existing content, involving internal experts and using free or inexpensive multimedia resources, companies can create affordable and effective personalised learning programmes that align with learners' goals and preferences. 

With a little bit of creativity and collaboration, organisations can build a robust and sustainable learning ecosystem that benefits both the learners and the organisation as a whole.

British Council has been partnering with organisations to develop their talent for more than 80 years. Through our 4-step process, we work closely with teams to ensure learning programmes are engaging, relevant and develop the skills your people and organisation need now and for the future.


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