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Establishing Better Collaboration Between the Corporate World and Higher Education

Despite the opportunity for great collaboration between the worlds of higher education and corporate learning, they are miles apart from one another. Photo by Dazzie D.

“Higher education and corporate learning are ideal candidates for ongoing collaboration. Yet these two worlds are almost 99 percent disconnected.”

Thus begins Elliott Masie’s article out at the May/June 2012 edition of The Educause Review. In that article, Elliott mentions that the 242 corporations that attend The Masie Center’s Learning Consortium “have expressed an interest in expanding digital collaboration with higher education in order to facilitate the following:

  • Learning management system interfaces
  • Video collaboration between the field and the classroom
  • Shared research on learning technology deployment
  • Teaching to corporate settings”

Along with this list of potential collaborations, I would like to add and see:

More streams of content flowing between these two worlds.

So, for example, why can’t we in higher education create more blogs with accompanying RSS feeds that specifically focus on topics of interest to the corporate world in which our graduates will soon be entering? What are the needs of the corporations? (For example, could students be researching something of use/interest to a local corporation?) Alternatively…what are our current students’ expectations like and are the corporations ready for these changing expectations?  What tools are the students accustomed to use for their communications? Project management? Research? Learning? What are their preferred learning spaces like?

The development of web-based learner profiles that stay with a person throughout their lifetimes; access to such a profile could be granted or revoked by the individual.

The use of tools that people begin to use in their collegiate days that they can later tap into long after they’ve graduated.  Tools that contain up-to-date resources – fed by knowledgeable faculty members or librarians – such as:

  • Who are the current experts, bloggers, or curators on topics X, Y, and Z?
  • What are areas of controversy or where is further research needed?
  • What “radio” programs or “TV” channels normally discuss these topics of interest (and if appropriate, what are their URL’s)?
  • What blogs, wikis, or podcasts exist that cover these topics of interest?
  • Are there social networking/media-based resources for providing just-in-time learning? That is, might there be listings of Yammer-based (or other) communities of practice around topics X,Y, and Z?
  • What are the top/recommended journals, e-books, etc. re: topics X, Y, or Z?

Perhaps teams of specialists within higher education could create and offer Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) that corporate employees could participate in for purposes of their ongoing professional development (or vice versa for students wanting to learn about current topics in the corporate world).  Perhaps students in graphic design, web design, media/film, music, etc. could participate in this content creation as part of their project-based learning efforts.

Are there Khan Academy-like videos produced by teams within higher education that corporate employees could review or purchase a subscription to?  Alternatively, are their items created by Training & Development Groups that students or faculty members could purchase or subscribe to?

Might there be more collaboration between a corporation and an entire classroom from a local college or university?  Could wikis, discussion boards, videoconferencing tools, application sharing tools, and/or other web-based collaboration tools be used?

In the near future, perhaps we could have second screen-based activities whereby corporate leaders are giving TED-like presentations or expressing the current issues in their worlds via a program on Smart TVs, and the students are communicating and collaborating about these presentations via tablets or smart phones.  Perhaps there will be electronic means whereby students could submit their ideas and feedback to the presenting companies (and whereby selected ideas could be rewarded in terms of free products or services that the company produces).

Anyway, we need lifelong learners and the tools and platforms exist to develop more WIN-WIN situations. Let’s keep working at it.

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Masie, E. (2012, May/June). Connecting Two Worlds: Collaboration between Higher Education and Corporate Learning. In The Educause Review. Retrieved from

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