Do Businesses Need a 21st Century Learning Model?


This post was inspired by a new connection @PaulGenge.

Many business professionals have expressed a need for an ongoing model for learning. Due to the pace of change, we often contemplate how we are going to keep up, get ahead and remain competitive.

Developing Talent - Education and Business

I have been watching, reading, observing and talking to people over the last few years about the changes taking place in universities and K-12. They seem to be on a parallel path, working to develop their curriculums, responding to their students' evolving need for a more personalized approach, while striving to transform the overall model. This is all in effort to prepare them (and us) for the future.

In addition to my overall interest in education, the goal has been to explore the concepts further to gain a deeper understanding of the potential impact and explore some of the resources available. Ultimately, this is to encourage and develop talent even further within the workplace as our business models change, become more decentralized and as we ourselves continue to innovate for our organizations and clients.

This is a priority for many companies, individuals and people in management positions. It is critical for growth, key to retaining top talent and keeping our multigenerational workforce engaged.

The Changing Face of  Learning and Professional Development

In watching Khan Academy develop their idea for “the goal of changing education for the better by providing a free world-class education to anyone anywhere,” it is clear that they have inspired movement. Udacity, MIT, EdX (a Harvard and MIT joint venture),  Coursera and Ted Ed are just some of the additional organizations that have free interactive online educational offerings.

After watching Sebastian Thrun on Charlie Rose, as well as on TechCrunch, I had to check it out. (Video below updated due to other being pulled from Youtube).

I recently signed up for Udacity’s course on building a search engine and I am just completing Unit 1 (realizing strings can be tricky!). There are so many possibilities, reasons and ways to incorporate these types of courses into some organizations, while including interested members from cross-functional teams.

This experience has certainly inspired further exploratory. Based on all of the developments in the marketing and advertising industry and my personal interest in sentiment analysis and AI, I have been considering Stanford’s Natural Language Processing course as well. We’ll see…one thing at a time. The thought is, if they are teaching this in college, then even more progress will be here soon enough, impacting the marketplace along with our product development and marketing efforts.

My interest isn’t so much in becoming a master programmer, but toward staying fresh and understanding the core concepts and principles that could inspire new ideas and thinking.

Business and “Learning 2.0”

The changes taking place with open courseware, as touched upon above, are just the tip of the iceberg. In addition to research, there is a deeper movement at the heart of the education system to re-imagine the overall model starting at a much younger age. This is to provide a more personalized,  holistic  and balanced approach to education and bring it into the 21st century. The efforts here are to help kids explore their unique talents and interests, along with  making sure they develop the necessary skill sets that will allow them to adapt in this world full of complexity.

In Minds On Fire: Open Education, the Long Tail, and Learning 2.0, John Seely Brown and Richard P. Adler write,

“The places that are globally competitive are those that have robust local ecosystems of resources supporting innovation and productiveness.2 A key part of any such ecosystem is a well-educated workforce with the requisite competitive skills.” 
“As we move from career to career, much of what we will need to know will not be what we learned in school decades earlier. We are entering a world in which we all will have to acquire new knowledge and skills on an almost continuous basis.”

With the current student loan debt, costs of education, dropout rates, and our challenging job market, I can't help but think about the impact this will all have on our future leaders. There is a significant shift taking place. It certainly has me thinking about how our organizations can respond and adapt as we move forward.

As more of the changes proposed by forward thinking educators do take place, our workforce will change forever.  And, as we consider incorporating some of this thinking into our own model for learning and make adjustments to our management practices, just imagine the innovations to come.

Thanks for stopping by -


PS Thanks again @PaulGenge . You inspire.