You’ve put quite a bit of time and effort into the planning of the corporate university and you may have already spent some of your budget money. The next best practice to consider is the structure of the corporate university, which includes policies, procedures, and standards. Let’s examine some common elements of a university structure.
First of all, a key point to keep in mind is that a corporate university is not like a regular university. Regardless of the name, your corporate university is still based on creating value and not just delivering academics. If your planning process gets too complicated, step back and look at the university entity with this key point in mind. But in the meantime, you should definitely create a structure that includes policies, procedures, and standards.
What policies will the corporate university and its learners have to adhere to? For example, will you set a class size minimum for delivery? If not, you may find that instructors are engaged to teach classes for two people versus 12, which may not be cost effective. What about an honor system code for training, especially online training that may be reportable, such as compliance. It may seem silly to think this way, but some learners will “cut corners” if given the opportunity, so putting them on guard to begin with is a good way to start. On the other hand, does the corporate university plan to become a cost center and charge for training or no shows? If so, what are the rates for this going to be and how will you determine the rate for each course offering? Consider how far in advance a learner needs to cancel his or her course registration. If you’ve set class minimums, you may need to consider a timeline policy to avoid engaging instructors when there are too few learners. In relation to grades, is the university going to determine a passing score for courses, such as 80%, or will courses be offered on a pass-fail or attend-did not attend basis? And also keep in mind that any new hire offerings may need to fall not only under the university but also human resources if participants have to pass to keep their jobs.
Next, determine course standards. What is the desired length for online and classroom courses? For example, online courses can be limited to 45 minutes or less and classroom courses can be limited to 3 hours. If this doesn’t work, will you want to have course material broken up into those types of “digestable” chunks? Or will course lengths depend solely on the content, the audience, and the specific delivery method?
Another consideration related to the corporate university structure is the standards that surround materials. You may have already worked with your marketing department to come up with color and design standards, but your instructional design team will need more specific standards. For example, you may want to choose different standards for different types of courses, such as technology versus customer service. Or you may want to set standards for Power Point presentations, such as graphics, fonts, and lengths. Consider online training as well: what types of graphics can be used in an online course? For example, will you use a 3-point callout box or a 2-point callout box? What grammar standards will be used throughout any training piece? This part of a corporate university structure may seem picky, but you want every piece of training to reflect a certain look and feel as well as the same standards. At this point, it may be a good idea to note that this task can be offloaded to the people who will be doing most of the course development.
Finally, what is the process for requesting training? Will you employ a standard front-end analysis and development timeline, or will you make decisions on a case-by-case basis? What process will you use to prioritize training needs? For example, each training manager may be responsible for accepting and prioritizing new training requests, or you may choose one person to handle the request and distribute it to the appropriate area for development and delivery.
Once you’ve decided on a structure, which, by the way, can be changed as the university changes, you’ll need to move on to a Learning Management System.
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