Making Time for 
Connected Learning

Making Time for 
Connected Learning

Alan Todd, CEO of CorpU, was recently asked four questions dealing with connected learning and how executives can make time for learning. Here are his answers:

What is connected learning?

Connected learning (for business) refers to the orchestrated merger of social collaborative technologies with the latest learning science and expert teaching to tap organizational intelligence, accelerate individual development and improve enterprise outcomes. The model is based on the premise that learners develop faster when they are learning on the job and when they are exposed to ideas from other practitioners (peer-to-peer and peer-to-expert, inside and outside the organization).

A connected approach holds the promise of accessing knowledge and judgment previously trapped in local environments. Social collaborative tools can reach dispersed employees and keep up with the pace of emergent organizational learning in ways that traditional learning approaches cannot.

As any organization that has installed Jive or Yammer can tell you, though, offering social collaborative tools is not enough to capture collective organizational brilliance. To achieve real development, collaborators need a purpose-built learning approach that focuses them on a shared challenge and catalyzes their own creativity with teaching from outside experts.

Skillful orchestration of the interplay between expert teaching and social collaborative technologies within a structured learning environment is what separates good from great connected learning.

Can connected learning compete with face-to-face?

Online learning has long lived with the stigma that it just isn’t as good as the real thing — for good reason. Most of us have experienced the power of face-to-face learning, and we’ve winced at early attempts to go online. We associate face-to-face with high quality because that’s how it’s always been.

But couldn’t more development occur if we weaved learning into executives’ jobs? Connected learning is based on the principle that, if you integrate learning and doing, you get more of both. Our learning platform brings participants together to solve problems that matters to the enterprise. A professional guide orchestrates the interplay of learning and doing to ensure that world-class teaching leavens the quality of decisions that the team makes together.

CorpU course participants join a cohort composed of colleagues who may be dispersed around the globe. Individuals complete solo work but discuss it as part of a team focused on the same problem.

Frameworks introduced by outside experts encourage the best thinking from individuals, which contributes to better collective problem solving.

So, to flip the question, can face-to-face beat that?

Is the quality bar for connected learning high enough to risk exposing my people to it?

An orchestrated learning approach has a lot to recommend it. But it’s hard to take the plunge. If you get it wrong, your company may not give you another chance to get it right. That’s why our membership includes a pilot project. Companies can get comfortable with the approach before making a major commitment.

Can you help executives make time for learning?

Time is a challenge for executive development. It’s a big reason (along with expense) that companies don’t send their executives to residential programs. But learners must devote time to get anything out of the experience.

The key is to engage learners. Content must be pared to its core and chopped into digestible chunks, varying content-type in order to maintain interest and appeal to various learning styles. Executives can learn in five-minute windows between meetings and internalize material at their own pace. Live sessions presume full participant preparation, so time isn’t wasted reviewing what’s already known.

Executives stick with CorpU “Learning Journeys.” Our completion rate is around 80 percent.

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