Desq – Innovative and Effective Digital Learning Designers

I recently spent a fascinating 2 hours talking with David Squire of Desq about digital learning design. While David is firmly of the view that Desq produces digital learning, he was not too unhappy with the term e-learning – providing the e stands for effective.

Desq digital learning design

Desq produce excellent digital learning, and by this we mean learning for all channels, not just for an LMS. We discussed some excellent examples of rich, interactive learning Desq have made for mobile phones and the web, which is quick and easy to use and that allow David to explain exactly what he means about digital learning rather than e-learning – which illustrates what Desq is all about.


Example Project – Creativity with Speed & Insight

This particular project (an onboarding programme) was developed for a large organisation that, due to Covid-19, needed to engage with large numbers of newly recruited staff at multiple sites very quickly indeed. The content produced is rich and interactive, and immediately available for learners on a mobile phone to grasp what they need to know to become part of the team quickly.

Desq delivered this requirement in about 7 working days (by the way that did include weekend working). The secret was, according to David, in part their creative ability to take existing learning assets and re-stitch them together to produce digital learning, but also and crucially that Desq were able to quickly grasp the learning persona of the learners and apply that insight to the digital learning produced, so that it was relevant and effective.


Accessible, Engaging & Effective

Desq have huge expertise in taking an organisation’s learning assets and other procedural materials (here we mean subject matter experts’ PowerPoint presentations, guidance and policy documents and yes tired and old e-learning courses from the age of “click next”) and turn them into digital learning that is accessible, engaging and most importantly of all, effective.

Another excellent example of Desq’s approach to effective and innovative learning is their use of games and in particular, role-playing games. Indeed, Desq has become well known for their ability to design compelling games that deliver specific learning challenges.

Take Desq’s partnership with Medex (health and social care training experts) to build Simcare, a game to support and maintain the mandatory skills of care home workers.

Safety training with elearning for Simcare

Again, the learning design approach is meticulous for its detailed understanding of the domain and the learner persona.

Within Simcare (a virtual care home) Desq created an all-encompassing learning environment for care home workers to move through rooms with differing scenarios dealing with all the different aspects required from fire safety to safeguarding. Everyday scenarios are presented to learners as they move round the care home and they are challenged to identify and do something about them.

A more naturally and ‘situated’ way to embed mandatory learning and rapidly identify areas of weakness means core training is addressed effectively. Feedback from pilot care homes has been very positive indeed, as Desq and Medex seek to ’cut to the chase’ of the training agenda in care.

Desq’s research indicates that 90 minutes spent in this virtual care home delivers an improved learning outcome over the equivalent to 10 hours of traditional e-learning that would ordinarily be conducted by a member of staff. And it is important to note that the benefits will improve when learners are annually required to refresh their skills, when many feel patronised and frustrated by “clicking next” through a topic they know well.

A great solution to the frustration so commonly felt by so many about the ‘sheep dip’ approach to compliance led learning.

We have touched on learner personas, but it is worth reinforcing that David and his team have very real and deep experience in understanding learning from the learners perspective and the ability to work with organisations to grasp this very essence of the learner to deliver effective learning.

A learner can be highly literate or have low literacy skills (our two examples discussed of Desq’s work are firmly aimed at the latter group, though we discussed other examples from cutting edge technology companies where Desq have produced some stunning learning dealing with presenting complex technical concepts (think blockchain or the internet of things….with clarity and effectiveness) or behaviours and mindsets (embedding agile thinking into an organisation).


Digital Learning Aligned with Business Goals

That is not all, Desq devote considerable effort to researching your organisations wider learning requirements in detail to ensure any project delivered both engages with the learner and is effective for the desired outcomes of the organisation itself.

Isn’t all this expensive? That is a common question and one that a buyer should ask, but in the approach Desq takes the answer is affirmatively, no.

This is for a couple of reasons. With Desq delving into a deep  understanding of how digital learning, in fact any learning is built, means they will help you take the most effective route, meaning engagement levels will be higher and changes in behaviour much more tangibly effected, and, as we noted in their Simcare care home example, where precious time is saved.

That however is not all, the project will be delivered within your timescales. Desq’s extensive experience of digital learming production combined with their favoured agile development approach (well, using the best bits from Agile anyway) Desq can deliver quickly, as we saw from the 1-week turnaround project.

eLearning for Fujitsu with Agile methodologies

Also, remember Desq have expertise in taking existing assets and transforming them into effective elearning, with the learning design process absolutely tailored to your organisation’s requirements.

Desq are, in some ways media centric and in others audience centric – both born out of David’s years at the BBC, but with their underlying experience of what really works, a commitment to research, innovation and keeping abreast of learning theory, gaming theory and continually scanning technology and interactive media landscape.

Desq can truly evidence what really effective digital learning means.

Learn more about this excellent, award-winning digital learning company at


David Patterson

Lead Consultant

About David

Our lead consultant David Patterson is an expert in training technologies and content development, and in digital learning best practices.

He has helped many public and private sector organisations across the UK, Europe and worldwide to create and deliver engaging, effective learning.

David is joint author of several research papers including the highly acclaimed Learning Light reports on the UK and global elearning markets.