Coming to Conference Room Near You: Executive Training


Guest Blogger: Don Sears

I recently interviewed the Director of Technology of Duke Corporate Education, Steve Mahaley, who provided some insight on the effects the recession is having on corporate training for executives.

DCE is affliated with Duke University, the London School of Economics, and the Indian Institute of Management - Ahmedabad-- and includes clients like the Emirates Bank Group, Ingersoll Rand and Rio Tinto. One of the most interesting aspects here is the extent to which travel budgets have been slashed, and how that has forced providers of training to adapt.

A recent article in the Wall Street Journal showed that business schools are revamping coursework to reflect interest from managers and executives who need help weathering recessions. I also wanted to learn how training providers are adapting to the recession with cost-saving tricks like using a client's in-house technology for training.

Here is a Q&A with DCE's Director of Technology, Steve Mahaley:

How are you are using a client's technology?

We always start our design process with an audit of what technologies the client has available, and design the learning program to leverage those where it makes sense. We have linked items to their Learning Management Systems, have used their internal web conferencing services, video conferencing services and of course email. We have even prepared iPods the client wanted to distribute with pre-loaded content.

What are the challenges of making distance learning work technologically?

Fundamentally, it's about the design; knowing what the learning outcomes are not just in terms of building content awareness, but also with regard to social networking, collaboration around problem-solving, and ultimately behavioral shift. Technologically, you must always validate the hardware, software, networking and security protocols and requirements before developing a program design delivered through technologies. One of the current challenges is in reaching participants in remote places that have limited connectivity. In these cases, we identify options - online or delivered on DVD or CD, for example.

What do you see as the future of executive learning with technology?

In the past decade the luster of distance learning faded a bit and is now strengthening again. In the current economic downturn may companies have cut travel budgets. That opens the door to redesigning face-to-face executive education programs to leverage technology to reduce travel AND in many cases embed the learning in the context of real work. In terms of technologies, the future will see increased use of mobile devices for delivery of content and interactions with other program participants and experts, better use of web conferencing tools, and, with the continuing development of 3D spaces, the use of virtual worlds as places to learn, collaborate and get work done.

How is your company handling corporate and executive training these days?

Be sure to check out another recent WSJ article/interview with MIT's Executive Director at the Sloan Center on how executive training is still considered vital, even in a down economy.


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