Personal Learning Cloud

It was an immense delight to read this article in Harvard Business Review (HBR) on “The Future of Leadership Development”.In addition to highly pertinent content, the fact that the authors (Mihnea Moldoveanu and Das Narayandas) are world renowned authorities in the space adds additional credence to the subject of Employee/Executive Education.

Issues / Challenges

The issue with current educational models is well known and is well captured by the authors:

“Executive education programs also fall short of their own stated objective. “Lifelong learning” has been a buzzword in corporate and university circles for decades, but it is still far from a reality. Traditional executive education is simply too episodic, exclusive, and expensive to achieve that goal. Not surprisingly, top business schools, including Rotman and HBS, have seen demand increase significantly for customized, cohort-based programs that address companies’ idiosyncratic talent-development needs. Corporate universities and the personal learning cloud—the growing mix of online courses, social and interactive platforms, and learning tools from both traditional institutions and upstarts—are filling the gap.”

Root Causes

The following are the root causes for the current industry challenge:

  1. Gap in motivations. Organizations have a long term horizon for executive education and expect a long tenure, whereas employees expect short term ROI and don’t necessarily remain with the employers who’ve paid for their training.
  2. Gap between the skills that executive programs build and those that firms require—In today’s flat, networked, increasingly collaborative organizations, interpersonal skills play a far more significant role in employee productivity. Traditionally executive education has focused on teaching cognitive skills and measuring their development.
  3. Skills transfer gap. Executives seem to find very little from their training programs that they can take to their jobs and deliver short term productivity gains to the employer.
Advantage Constraint
Business schools with open programs A large store of intellectual and pedagogical capital Limited capability to provide contextualized learning Business schools with open programs Limited capability to provide contextualized learning Inadequate follow-up when customization reaches the realm of personal learning and design
Strategic consultancies A highly contextualized approach to skills transfer and development Inadequate technology and know-how for evaluation and feedback
Human resources consultancies Can identify participants’ core skills to create fully individualized coaching and development A shortage of expertise in relevant functional domains Limited ability to measure skills acquisition and application
Corporate universities Can deliver content that is immediately relevant to the organization, and in the context in which the skills will be applied Limited ability to measure skills acquisition and application
Remote personalized learning platforms Low-cost alternatives to programs that transfer functional and technical knowledge Limits on contextualized learning and the development of relational, affective, and collaborative skills


Personal Learning Cloud (PLC)

The most important aspect of the article is the fact that the authors have identified a very pivotal learning tool that they term Personal Learning Cloud (PLC). The key tenets of PLC are the following:

  1. Personalized- Employees can pursue the skills development program or practice that is right for them, at their own pace, using media that are optimally suited to their particular learning style and work environment.
  2. Socialized - As every one knows all too well, collaboration is key to effective learning. The PLC enables the organic and planned formation of teams and cohorts of learners who are jointly involved in developing new skills and capabilities.
  3. Contextualized- The PLC enables people to pick up knowledge assets that are pertinent to their jobs and one that they can immediately apply so that there is positive ROI for employee and employer.
  4. Managed - Learning outcomes can be transparently tracked, credentialed, managed and monitored to deliver ongoing value to employer and employee.

We at KloudLearn strive to provide employees and employers the tools to enhance employee learning and productivity. The good news is that employees and team members have a tremendous amount of knowledge and information, KloudLearn attempts to marshall it, organize it and make it available to meet your professional goals. This allows the average employee to benefit from the “guru” or “expert”.

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