Fotolia_57630959_Subscription_Monthly_MIn 2014, the Association of Learning Technologies conducted its annual conference ALTC with title “Riding Giants: How to educate and innovate ahead of waves”[1]. This conference ended in the boosted momentum in the development or advancement of learning technologies. The digital wave disruption of corporate learning that has been taking place since last couple of decades is clearly supporting the conclusion the conference came up with. In this article, I will be discussing how the corporate learning is witnessing a new digital wave and the way it is causing disruption. Additionally, exploring the disruption that has been caused by this digital wave and the way it is influencing the businesses.

Starting with the conference glimpses, sessions included presentations and workshops regarding all the latest and most innovative technologies, from video learning to gamification, open education resources to augmented reality, and portfolios to the proctoring. Massive open online courses (MOOCs) loomed huge with many sessions exploring their execution and future. A wide array of devices was taken into an account with speakers sharing their experiences using smart phones and iPads in an academic and corporate learning context. There was also a look at the application of QR codes as a means to link the real and digital worlds, learning, tweeting, and riding the nonstop Word press wave. What do these all point towards? Clearly, it is pointing towards the digital wave disruption in the world of learning.

ALTC not only offered a series of sessions for applications and gadgets, last year it featured the debate on the pedagogical implications of the use of learning technology and sessions taking into account the approaches for facing the challenges presented by the disruptive influence of the new developments in learning and teaching in today’s organizations.

Previously, the huge L&D Conferences gave the opportunity to explore the horizon but last year, there was a clear sense that organizations are now at the edge of implementation. They now require practical advice and guidance on establishing infrastructure and reorganizing business processes and staff to make these novel approaches to learning and teaching work for them. There has always been a need to discuss about the cost, management and gauging the effectiveness of this digital disruption as well.

Clayton Christensen, world’s one of top management thinkers and a business professor at Harvard Business School, examines the influence of disruptive innovation on leading corporations[2]. He states that by the time a new risk to a business is recognized, it is too late. The new competitor is gaining a substantial foothold, and due to current mindset, past success and the sunk costs, the established leader is caught not knowledgeable or unaware. For instance, for the magazine or newspaper industry, the mechanism of disruption has been explained as being captured by a digital riptide. The rage of this riptide includes Newsweek being sold for $1 in 2011, while the Washington Post for $250 million and Boston Globe for $70 million, when only a few years earlier these newspapers were worth of billions[3].

For the corporate learning departments, there is not much literature to show rough seas in 2014. But, like newspapers, the corporate education and learning departments can be observed as bobbing hydrants in the internet ocean. Should businesses learn from the experience of the riptide in the news industry?

The newspapers overlooked the influence of internet on their business. Have corporate learning and training organizations? Just like newspapers, corporate education and training departments have to compete for the customers. This might appear evident, but very few of learning departments view themselves as having external or internal competition. However, when we observe at how people actually learn, it is obvious that they use search engines like Google, social media, MeetUps, YouTube and the public cloud to gain skills and information. As education and learning organizations become growingly sourced around by the business users, most of the training organizations are not established to deliver training as fast, as inexpensively, or in ways as simple to consume as users can get elsewhere[4].

In this new world of learning, the learners take corporate education and training departments as just another alternative for learning, often their last stop. External learners who in past might have had just one solution for product training increasingly find themselves with the ability to shop around. In this world, the consumer is the king and their preference is for on-demand use or consumption. This lies under the business case for learning transformation[5]. Corporate education departments need to learn how to compete for external and internal business. They need to be able to offer easy to consume, competitive and on-demand learning services that can be accessed from any device. Lastly, they must be relevant to the digital natives. This novel and disruptive model needs a huge change in the way we think of developing learning, skills, organizational roles, business models and systems, measurements, tools and values.


Copyright 2015 Bryant Nielson. All Rights Reserved.

Bryant Nielson – Managing Director of CapitalWave Inc.– Being a big believer in Technology Enabled Learning, Bryant seeks to create awareness, motivate adoption and engage organizations and people in the changing business of education. Bryant is a entrepreneur, trainer, and strategic training adviser for many organizations. Bryant’s business career has been based on his results-oriented style of empowering the individual.
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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.