Corporate Training and Higher Education

I totally agree with the views of George’s Modernizing Corporate Training.  What is amazing is that corporate training  and higher education (HE) seems to tap into the same and different “markets segments” nowadays, whereas in lots of  scenarios, the target audience are practically the same.  It’s a matter of difference in focus: corporate training versus higher education.

I think blended learning, and collaboration have been happening in HE and informal social networks for years, just that people seldom recognise their importance until recent time.

Research so far in this area is difficult, as you could hardly prove the superiority of one over the other (i.e. blended learning over face-to-face, or over complete online learning, informal learning over formal education) unless the same control groups could take the experiment at the same time (which is hardly possible).  The complexity and emergence of learning further complicates the pattern of learning effectiveness. 

People have now shifted their learning focus towards socialisation (development of social intelligence as promoted by Daniel Goleman) via social networks (face-to-face and virtual) as part of their “education agenda and goals”, on top of their emotional intelligence.  That is also the basis of networked learning or connectivism (George Siemens and Stephen Downes). 

My observation is that lots of corporate trainers still prefer to be the sage on the stage in their training approach.  That’s perfectly legitimate for novice learners.   Does it serve the experienced and expert learners or employees? 

Mandatory training may still play an important part for most organisations when it comes to legislation, company cultures, mission and vision, strategies, award restructuring, occupational health and safety, standard operation procedures and practices. 

 What may be of interests is that nowadays a lot of employees could access these information via their company intranet or over the internet.  What seems more important in training is not just the “knowledge” that are adopted by the learners, but the creative or innovative application of such knowledge to continuously improve the work operations and satisfy the customers needs and expectations.  These require collaboration and cooperation amongst employees, a supportive management infrastructure and strong leadership to leverage the benefits out of training and workforce development.

When it comes to vocational education and training and higher education, there has been a strong movement towards going back to the “apprenticeship” model of education and training – with mentoring as an alternative “education and corporate training model” on a one-on-one or one-on-a few customised learning model. 

So, when the learners in the organisations are already experts in their areas, what is more important is mentoring and talent management.   So recognition, peer – teaching and learning in networks becomes the predominant swing of the pendulum.

But, what about the role of the corporate trainers? An assessor? A facilitator? A consultant?

I noted a recent movement in HE and corporate training seems to be “crossing the roads” and here comes the emergence! An opportunity….for the collaboration?  Would it be a huge challenge for both HE and Corporate Training sectors to weave through the partnership and collaboration?

The existing financial turmoils and rapidly changing technology further accelerates the need of people to continuously update their skills and broaden their experience with the use of technology (Web 2.0), through social and education networking.

Would corporate training deliver its promise as shown in that article? Or would it be HE leading the role?

Enjoy this video on Social Intelligence – an interview with Daniel Goleman.

What sort of skills and competency would be important in socialisation and social networking?


Cooperation and Collaboration in networks

This is my response to  cooperation or collaboration 


We seek cooperation when “we want others to assist us in achieving our goals”. When teaching in a traditional face-to-face class, the teacher is seeking the cooperation of their students to maintain classroom discipline, to participate and contribute in the learning activities, and to complete the assessment tasks that would lead to the accomplishment of learning outcomes etc.

The students would collaborate with other students in working on the learning activities or student projects.

The same principles could be applicable when teaching in an online class, using Moodle Forum or Elluminate or Adobe online session.  The teacher is seeking cooperation from the participants to participate and contribute to the session. 

The participants may collaborate with other participants or teacher in working through the activities.


The “seeking” of cooperation is normally from one party (the teacher) to the others (students or educators).  In this case, it is an outcome which results from one party complying with the requirements and expectations of the other party.  Sometimes it requires negotiation of both parties, who may or may not be having the same degree of powers in the teaching or learning process.

In case of community networked learning, the teacher is seeking collaboration (working in partnership) with other teachers  or community network members to achieve common and agreed goals. This is likely to happen in team or group projects in educational networks, or cross functional teams where parties would collaborate in solving problems.


Currently, I am working with Jenny Mackness and Roy Williams on a collaborative research project, and we collaborate in planning and conducting the research.  We also cooperate with other members of  the Community Network in sharing our research process, information and experience.

Another example is when teachers are cooperating with management in carrying out their administration duties or working on learning or research projects, while collaborating with other teachers in developing learning resources.

In case of mentoring, the mentor (teacher) is collaborating with the mentees (in partnership) to achieve the goals (likely more with the mentees goals, though it may also be negotiated goals agreed by both parties). The mentor is also seeking cooperation from the mentee to develop and implement the learning plan in the mentoring process.

Referring to the above cases, the relationship between one party – teachers (mentor) and the other party – students (mentees) will determine whether it is cooperation or collaboration or both.

The relationship may be complicated when there are so many factors which could affect the situations (differences in skills, experience, power, perceptions and attitudes). However, you could still analyse and possibly list these factors to understand the relationship between them, based on experience.

The situation is complex when we focus on the group of feelings or ideas that influence the people’s behaviour or mental attitudes.  Feelings, emotions or ideas coming out of the interaction are often dynamic, emergent, and therefore unknown and unpredictable (and uncontrollable) to the participants. We would classify such interactions to be complex.

The emergent learning arising out of the interaction and communication would be complex due to the dynamic changes in the learning goals and teaching, learning strategies and emotions of the parties concerned.

So, in case of networks, I think the relationship between the “members” of the network would be complicated, and the feelings or ideas that influence the network members (nodes) would be complex due to the emergence arising from the interaction and communication.

In summary, I would suggest that complication and complexity both exist in networks.  Both cooperation and collaboration would exist in complex networks with complicated relationships amongst their nodes or network members.   Learning would also be complicated and complex in learning networks.

Roles of educator under a rapidly changing technology environment

I share with Jenny’s post on Teaching with technology – changing roles  in my role of teacher becoming more like a  back seat driver, rather than a driver. 

I have taken a different “shape” throughout the years, with the introduction of new and emergent technology.  I always like to swap roles to adapt to the changing education and learning landscape.  My role as a teacher has actually been “transformed” into that of a facilitator, a researcher, an assessor and more recently a learner.

When I found gaps in technology know-how or new learning theories and application, I would jump on a train (an education institution, and enrol in a formal course), or would aboard a flight (such as the virtual flight of CCK08) to broaden my perspectives on learning and networks. 

At other times, I would like to be the passenger,  just to enjoy the serendipity when looking through the “windows” of the vehicle (the net), by surfing and navigating over the networks and the internet.  

Teaching and learning becomes all in one – and there is one common goal for me – to support my learners and myself in learning. 

So, is teaching learning?

There is an old motto: teaching and learning must grow and develop together.  For me, it makes sense.

That’s how I see teaching and learning and our ecology at this digital age.

I don’t see learners as learners any more in my teaching, I could only see facilitators, collaborators, contributors, creators and assessors in learning.

Do I see changes in my role as a “teacher or facilitator” when I read others’ reflection “through their mirrors”?

I wonder!

Would mentor be an alternative role that adds value to our teaching and learning? I have been a workplace mentor for the past nine years.  That has added much value to my learning, whereas there has always been changing roles in mentor/mentee  relationship from time to time.

The networks become my mentor and vice versa. The nodes in the networks become my sounding board.  I listen and learn.

Yesterday, I learned from my collaborator how to conduct  forklift testing, on the job.  My collaborator just shines when he becomes my teacher.  Though I am the teacher 🙂

I think it is not just new and emergent technology that enables us to change our role  under an adaptive learning environment.  It is the “technology” of teaching and learning that has transformed our way of thinking – that makes our role of an educator more interesting, challenging and rewarding. 

Are we having emergent roles as an educator?  What roles have you taken on as a teacher?  How do you find your role?