Learning Trends to Watch in 2006

» Posted by Jeanne Meister  » Posted on 12.03.07

Published December 2005

As we enter 2006, how will our priorities change? Here are four trends to watch.

Delivery for the ’Net Generation
Today’s college students, dubbed the ’Net generation, born between 1980 and 1994, will be entering the workplace in a few years. They expect results immediately. They carry an arsenal of electronic devices—the more portable the better—and they are able to juggle several conversations on Instant Messenger, surf the Web and listen to music on their iPod while reading Othello for homework. In other words, they seamlessly mix learning, communicating and playing. Even college professors are adjusting to the needs of these engaged learners. A recent article in the Chronicle of Higher Education, titled “The ’Net Generation in the Classroom,” says college professors are being forced to adjust by shortening their lecture from one hour to 15 to 20 minutes before they break. Why? To give the students an opportunity to share, collaborate, engage and learn from one another.

Learning professionals need to engage the ’Net generation. Corporate learning departments will continue to shorten the learning module while introducing new delivery modes. Usage of podcasts, gaming and vodcasts to engage these learners will be much more widespread.

Continuing Education for CLOs
Newly appointed CLOs enter the profession from a range of disciplines, including training and development, general management, sales, engineering and even the general counsel’s office. These diverse professionals require new skill sets, including strategic planning, organizational leadership, data-driven decision-making, technology and innovation, business acumen, teaching and learning methods, and relationship management. A number of accredited universities plan to offer full-blown certification programs that lead to a doctorate in learning management.

The impetus to engage in continuing education may well be shortened tenure. According to executive search firm Spencer Stuart, C-level executives are on the job only 23 months. As time gets shorter to deliver on CEO expectations, the need to expand one’s skill set becomes more critical.

Learning Outsourcing Matures
As learning outsourcing matures, the focus will be on how to best manage learning outsourcing to achieve improved business results. The decision to outsource is no longer a short-term, tactical, cost-saving move. Increasingly, it will be much more strategic. Organizations will demand vendors to address how they can outsource the learning function to achieve a number of hard business metrics.

Focusing on the transformative value of learning outsourcing will require CLOs to weave learning into the business plans of their organizations. If you’re not already on the CEO’s agenda, you need to find ways to get there. That means being proactive in attending strategic planning meetings, presenting monthly and quarterly project updates and talking regularly with stakeholders in the executive suite. The goal is for learning to be so integrated with the business that learning deliverables become part of the fabric of the business plan.

University Partnerships
The share of all public universities’ revenues deriving from state and local taxes declined to 62 percent in 2004 from 74 percent in 1991. What does this mean to corporate education? Traditional universities are becoming much more open to forming alliances with corporate universities in an effort to develop joint degree programs with a corporate guarantee of students.

One example is the Ingersoll-Rand MBA degree, offered in partnership with Kelley School of Business of Indiana University. The IR MBA was created to meet the needs of Ingersoll-Rand’s high-potential managers. It is offered both online and on site at Ingersoll-Rand University, and includes specific case studies on global business management in the industrial manufacturing sector. Now in its third year, the IR MBA is attracting interest among other corporate universities who intend to drive universities toward increased customization in return for tuition reimbursement dollars.

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