Corporate Training Is Ripe for Online DisruptionVan Anderson | Director of Corporate Education and Custom Programs, UC Los Angeles
Customized corporate education is evolving at even a faster rate than standard continuing education. The Great Recession ended or disrupted most in-house professional development programs and contributed to the current rise in lean organizations. Some of the effects have been in longer working hours, increased productivity, quicker technology adoption, globalization and skills gap issues. Add in the current strong dollar and you have a perfect storm to embrace online and hybrid formats for customized training.
Educational institutions are all focusing on online education from a market pull perspective. The lower costs and flexibility of time have been the main drivers. It’s easy to understand why the consumer might choose this delivery method. The benefits to the institution are equally great but not discussed as much.
The three biggest benefits for the training providers for developing online custom training are scalability, cost and creativity. These sound more like business plan elements a startup company is pitching to potential investors and not typical education speak. The benefits all overlap with each other to create a very robust product. Depending on your infrastructure and platforms used, some training organizations could have sizeable development costs upfront. This is the stage where education is able to go to very new places. In fully online programs there is experimentation in engagement, group work, Gamification and virtual guest lecturers. The pedagogical methods are moving faster and utilizing subject matter experts most willing to change. Content updates and customization for the client’s needs are also faster in this environment as there is usually more instructor support for online learning. Once the basic templates for these trainings have been made the duplication costs become very low.
The global corporate training market is estimated at over $300 billion and has grown more over the past two years than the previous seven. Online delivery allows for materials to be easily translated and allows networking and dialogue that may not happen in a face-to-face environment. Many students feel more comfortable asking questions and interacting online and ultimately receive more individual training. The ability to replicate at a lower price, package content for national and global audiences and utilize some of the newest learning techniques and technology are great reasons to pursue online development. The revenue generation from this scalability can also produce needed resources to develop traditional learning experiences or strategic initiatives. U.S. education is already very expensive. The strong dollar has pushed training out of reach for some internationally. Integrating online learning is very helpful in slowing this growth while still allowing the most high-demand components of trainings to remain intact.
Online corporate training is definitely an area of huge growth potential. I personally feel that the hybrid model is currently the most efficient method of delivery. The online aspect early on can deliver assessments, start group discussions, onboard and allow pre-work so that the face-to-face sessions can be more productive and representative of a flipped classroom. Follow-up coaching is very important, especially in leadership training. Online integration after the face-to-face sessions becomes a very cost-effective and easy method to continue the individual attention. Access to education is something we all strive for. Online training gives us the best opportunity to reach the most people and the lowest cost.
Education is becoming student-focused and technology-driven. Corporate training has always been challenging due to the diversity of experience and level of the participants. Online content allows the playing field to level a bit as resources are easily provided and engagement levels are high. There is an abundance of free online material. Viewing a webinar and answering some questions was the Pong, or first generation of corporate training. Employees demand more and companies want to see speedy returns on investment. Corporate trainings will only become more sophisticated and demand higher learning outcomes. Thought leaders in affordable and modern corporate training is still looking for that market disruption that will set a new standard for all. It is definitely an exciting time to be in education development.