Organizations across the U.S. spent $1,169 per learner, on average, on learning and development (L&D) initiatives in 2013.1 This figure varies by company size and industry. Technology companies, for example, spent $1,847 per learner, on average—one of the highest of any industry sector.2 Tech firms (like Motorola Solutions, Adobe, IBM, and Xerox) have made large investments for training their teams to evolve from product sellers to solution and industry experts.3 Not surprisingly, technology firms are also among the leaders designing programs specifically for use on mobile devices, with 19 percent of learning assets mobile-enabled.4 As a case in point, Xerox Learning is working to tailor and orchestrate training content targeted at the growing mobile workforce (1.3 billion worldwide by 20135). Xerox Learning works with m-learning devices (handheld communications tools such as mobile and smart phones, PDAs, MP3/MP4 players, and gaming devices) to assess value potential of mobile learning programs through a five-step process that encompasses assessment and planning, technology implementation, content delivery, support, and measurement.6
Traditionally when developing corporate learning programs, HR professionals are often tasked with developing a “corporate learning strategy” and then developing (or contracting) the appropriate infrastructure build-out, designing (or purchasing) the requisite content, and matching employees to content after the fact. With a move to “connected learning,” the employee and their interests lie at the center of the strategy, requiring a flexible model that changes with employees and the times. As Mizuko Ito (Professor in Residence at UC Irvine) describes, connected learning is socially embedded, interest-driven, and oriented toward expanding educational, economic, or political opportunity; it is realized when a person is able to pursue a personal interest or passion, and is in turn able to link this learning and interest to career success. In connected corporate learning, instructors, mentors, managers, on-the-job opportunities, and HR professionals support the learner upon whom the model is based, not vice versa.7
Investing in connected corporate learning requires senior management and leadership to answer different questions than have been traditionally posed. These questions focus on striking an effective balance between organizational and individual’s goals, and how that dictates how connected an organization’s learning offering should be. The spectrum of connections ranges from networking with various ecosystem players (learner, instructors, etc.) to integrating the learning journey from K–12 through higher education and corporate learning to investing in technology solutions that aggregate the currently disparate collection of data and functionality that composes the education ecosystem.
For example, connected corporate learning need not stop at existing employees but can and should extend to potential — and perhaps former — employees. In our vision of 2021, we picture transformed learning roles, including an education coordinator (EC) or a computerized virtual assistant that helps groom prospective candidates by providing relevant job-readiness skills. By sharing pre-approved student information with an EC, students and educators can partner with organizations to efficiently close any skills gaps. The EC can serve as a recruitment instrument, providing custom learning plans encompassing unique or proprietary content and virtual reality games, experiential learning exercises, and interactive opportunities with professionals within a student’s approved network.
An organization’s future learning solution will likely serve as more than a skill refresher and become a source of enduring competitive advantage. Connected corporate learning is an opportunity for organizations to work with ed-tech providers to build flexible corporate learning programs that allow for all three types of connectors (across ecosystem, across the lifetime learning journey, and across technological functionality).
To learn more about connected learning, register here for our Feb 25 webcast discussion and read our recent publication on Digital Education 2.0: From content to connections.