Many times I have talked about the modern means of learning and training being incorporated in academia and corporate world today. The modes generated over the course of internet have surely proved be to revolutionizing, in terms of learning, engagement and understanding, however the element that has seriously put them ahead of the conventional modes is the practical approach that ensures to deliver knowledge and skills in real life scenarios. In a traditional corporate university model, a “place to go” and learn is created. Online learning opportunities and digital participation are somewhat blurring this concept. So, is the corporate university dead? If yes, what positive and negative impacts we might witness out of this? Let’s explore in this article.

Talking about the corporate university model, that is characterized by the physical location, face to face interaction between trainers and learners, lecture and practical demonstrations, assignments, field surveys and so on; it seems that the model is becoming obsolete, though gradually, but on a constant basis[1]. Orthodox experts state that the significance of the personal and face to face interaction cannot be denied in a learning environment and to ensure an effective learning experience. The assertion kept to be influencing only till the inventions of learning modes, which are not just providing a more effective means of communication and learning, but surprisingly these are also incorporated with the critical element of personal communication and interaction[2].

Let’s understand it deeper through business and corporate training perspective. The corporate environment has changed quite dramatically in the last 8-10 years. The economy today is growing faster enough to put the organization under the situation of “talent squeeze”. Significant percentage of older workers is at the verge of retirement, and with them, some of the most critical and fundamental skills would also be gone. Today workers or employers no longer sit next to their managers for getting coached or trained; rather they are now working everywhere and anywhere. Human Resource managers don’t speak of learning, training and development now; they are rather concerned with talent management.

These transformations have resulted in three major demands for learning. Learning must be:

  • On-demand
  • Job-relevant
  • Constantly changing

These are the new drivers making the corporate university model impossible to carry forward further. Think of the issues and challenges the training managers are faced with today. Training needs to be relevant, aligned and efficient. It is not wise or affordable at all to offer a course every year with small number of learners. Training needs to be completely aligned with the most current business requirements. The University model is getting split. Employees just can’t wait for the university to offer them the right courses and required training. They want to be empowered to get information whenever they need. That’s why new hire, soft-skills programs and management training are all now putting together with the online events, activities and reference material.

Just talk to any corporate trainer or leader today and you would probably hear the story regarding the loopholes of today’s MBA programs, in particular, when we talk about real world requirements and needs of businesses in a global marketplace[3]. In my previous posts I have also emphasized the need for, and demand for, a more widely educated business student; one who can enhance his critical thinking, holds a global perspective and is able to move ahead successfully in highly competitive environment.

In certain cases, organizations might have already recognized that the graduate business academics in the United States is too bureaucratic and bloated to compete in an effective way, and by starting their own executive and graduate business programs,  they can find and make the jobs filled with the right people who can take the reins of leadership successfully. Critics don’t deny the existence of corporate university model, yet their criticism that this learning doesn’t deliver the real world scenarios seems logical enough to put the attention of the world towards online learning modes.

All that is in their way now is to split the nut of accreditation. Academia has kept a death grip over this area for last few decades and for good reason. It has enabled us to shield our fiefdom from the outsiders who can threaten the status quo[4]. It seems we would not be able to maintain this position for much longer, especially as the experiences and skills portfolio has become as previous and valued as graduate degrees and university executive programs. If businesses come to care more regarding the skills and their own culture of organization than they do regarding the letters after an employee’s name, the corporate university would become much more visible.

The thing we might move towards in near future is learning service approach[5] that is quite different from the corporate university model. It manages content and courses that can be provided anywhere. It utilizes performance consultants to discover and understand business problems and delivers content, resources, programs, references and more. Its focus is not based on “place to go” rather, it is based on what “comes to you”.


Copyright  Bryant Nielson. All Rights Reserved.


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Bryant Nielson is heavily involved in the Corporate Training and Leadership and Talent space. He currently is the Managing Director for CapitalWave Inc and the training division, Financial Training Solutions. He brings a diverse corporate experience of organizational development, learning and talent development, and corporate training, that also includes personal coaching of top sales individuals and companies of all sizes. For the prior 4 years, Bryant was the Managing Director and Leadership and Talent Manager for Lengthen Your Stride! LLC. In this position, Nielson was the developer of all of the courses for MortgageMae University (MMU), the Realtor Development Center (RDC), and of Lengthen Your Stride! (LYS). In that position, he developed material, refined over many years of use and active training, and condensed the coursework and training to be high impact, natural learning, and comprehensive. Bryant has over 27 years of Senior Management experience encompasses running his own Training and mortgage firm, in New York City. He strongly believes that the corporate training is not to be static but should 'engage and inspire' students to greater productivity and performance.


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