Five Words To Describe Corporate Learning in 2010


As I think about corporate learning in 2010, five words come to mind:
: If the 90’s were the “e” decade: e-learning, e-libraries, look for 2010 to be the “s” decade: social learning and social networking. When the word “social” is applied to learning it means: learning which is collaborative, immediate, relevant and presented in the context of an individual’s unique work environment. In the context of social networking, social learning becomes less about learning and more about how efficiently and effectively you can impact the business by increasing the frequency of innovation, shortening the time to competency and decreasing errors.

Mobile: The same-time, same-place model of learning will slowly disappear, as corporate learners look to mobile devices for their learning. In a number of countries, there are now more mobiles than people. For example, as of 2009, for every 100 individuals in the United Kingdom there were 123.64 mobile subscriptions. Global System For Mobile Communications projects that by 2012, there will be 4.5 billion mobile subscriptions out of a global population of 7 billion. Already, several financial service firms such as Bank of America and Wells Fargo are exploring using mobile phones to deliver compliance training, product training and performance support/on-the-job aids.

Collaborative:. More companies will strive to be like P&G, who two years ago took a visionary stance on product development, mandating that 50 percent of product innovation come from collaborating with partners and customers. While collaboration has been thought of as employees collaborate internally, the workplace of the future will strive for much more external collaboration and will provide employees with access to external networks to make this collaboration possible. But while employees will push for greater access to external networking sites, the HR issue for 2010 will be how to moderate access to external sites and what rules and regulations should be put on the books to ensure that organizational resources and property aren’t compromised and that reputations aren’t risked.

Engaging: Employee engagement will continue to be a top issue on the dashboard for HR and Learning executives. The reason is simple: according to a survey conducted by the Corporate Executive Board, (CEB), companies with highly engaged employees demonstrate a 3-year revenue growth of 20.1%, compared to the 8.9% their industry peers will average. They also establish a 3-year EBITDA growth that is three times higher than their industry peers. What’s more, CEB research shows that shifting an individual employee from low engagement to high engagement can improve employee performance by up to 20%, and can thus significantly reduce recruitment costs. Look for more learning objectives to be tied to increases in employee engagement.

Fun: Regardless of our age, we will expect to learn in much the same way as we shop, communicate and network with friends. This means corporate learning will become much more social, fun, and highly collaborative experience. Some of the tools that will grow in importance include video games, simulations, and alternate-reality games to develop leadership and complex critical thinking skills. Video games, such as World of Warcraft, are part of a category of games called massively multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPGs). These games have the potential to become realistic simulators for training in leadership development, and a diverse set of skills, such as managing a virtual team, and analyzing constantly changing data.

In 2010, if you aren’t paying attention to how the world of corporate learning is evolving, you may lose your competitive edge.

What words would you add to this list and why? Share them here with me

Happy Holidays!

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About Jeanne Meister

Jeanne C. Meister is a best selling author of three books, internationally recognized consultant and keynote speaker. Jeanne is Partner of Future Workplace, a consulting firm dedicated to assisting organizations in re-thinking, re-imagining and re-inventing the workplace. Jeanne was recently voted by her peers as one of the 20 top influential training professionals in the United States. Jeanne’s name is synonymous with the establishment and institutionalization of global corporate universities. Jeanne is the author of three books, Corporate Quality Universities and Corporate Universities. Jeanne’s latest book is, The 2020 Workplace: How Innovative Companies Attract, Develop & Keep Tomorrow’s Employees Today (Harper Collins, 2010) is in its 10th printing.No information is provided by the author.


  1. Sorry if I come off as an asshole Jeanne, but I think those NOT born between 1977-1997 will also demand corporate learning be a “social, fun, and highly collaborative experience.” Why would ANYONE say they want corporate learning to be anti-social, not fun, and non-collaborative? This is just more blah blah millennial marketing fluff that’s not supported by sound research. Show me the empirical research that finds millennials (and not others) will demand social, fun, collaborative experiences. Or, just keep stoking the myth and help build a self-fulfilling prophecy (i.e., we don’t play games or we’re technical idiots) for people born prior to 1977. Geesh.

  2. There are two challenges regardless of how modern and hip our training is: [1] Are employees learning what we expect them to learn – at a pace we expect them to learn at. AND [2] Do the applications and procedures to be trained on lend themselves to these evolving training methods. Photogenec Design has found that cool training methods deployed within an old school mentality die horrible financial deaths. At Photogenec, we hope the first thing a student does after watching one of our screencasts is open the targeted application and get to work – not tweet, text, phone, or walk downstairs for a half caf grande Americano. Thanks for your great work.


    Gene Rosen
    Creative Director

  3. I think you hit the nail on the head here. In particular, I have my eye on employee engagement. As a learning professional, I’ve seen quite the spectrum, from organizations that show true concern for engaging their personnel, to others that just pay lip service.

    Working in a open environment, I get to see first-hand the benefits brought about by employee engagement. In my most recent projects, I’ve been working to make sure my clients understand it as well. The benefit to me, then, is that I get some welcome help from project sponsors and stakeholders in the tacit job of selling learners on the training that I’m providing.

  4. Gene and Mahdi
    Thanks for your thoughtful comments. Regarding Gene’s comments–I think employees need to be in charge of what they should learn to improve on their jobs. So rather than ask Are they learning what WE expect of them, ask, Are employees engaged and involved in seeking new responsibilities and new answers to their questions, looking for new content to learn and new ways to learn on the job and off the job. Learning needs to be a life long pursuit both at work and at home..


  5. The “social” and the “mobile” resonate quite strongly with me.

    I see more and more attention will be given to embedding learning opportunities in the natural environment and activity flow of the individual to facilitate an efficient query- response behavior. In this way, the individual is simply enabled to query his/her environment appropriately in relation to needs that emerge in the course of activity. This focuses attention on metacognitive and self management capabilities rather than any specific list of knowledge or skill objectives.

    Information selection and access become a given and the use of information becomes the focus.

  6. Mike Lacy

    Thank you for your thoughts and ideals. I would like to suggest that perhaps a sixth word should be “Application” research has shown that less than 10% of the knowledge or information acquired in a training\learning environment is retained, which suggests that the selection of the best venue (media) to present the information is only part of the challenge. Presenting the how and why the training\learning is necessary and beneficial to the participants becomes the critical aspect of ensuring that the training is transferred from just knowledge to application.
    Before we run off and start implementing training programs that use the newest technology, regardless of the WOW factor, we should consider that the current workforce has four identifiable generations each with their own cultural habits and interest. This spans from the instant gratification of the Gen Y (under 24) to the dedication and loyalty of the Traditionalist (62 +). As always we must consider the audience their needs and interest. In my opinion use what every methodology that works to get the knowledge to the audience as long as we also consider how to ensure that the information is transferred to an application.
    I agree that learning, be it in an academic or corporate venue should be fun for both instructor/trainer and participants; however, adult learning theory suggests that adults only retain and use information that is relative and purposeful to their interest or occupation. I have participated in trainings that were full of activities and a good time was had by all. Unfortunately, because nobody connected the dots, the importance of the application was lost.

  7. I would add two i words to the vocabulary. Those are
    Investment and Innovation. In my opinion, learning is a necessary contribution to the innovation requested by corporate leaders. But several things need to change for this contribution to fulfill its potential. Senior executives need to shift their financial view of learning from that of an expense to that of an investment. The accountants will not help in this innovation. Learning leaders will have to make the case on their own. The other innovation that needs to take place is for more impactful learning content that can successfully address some of the specific needs identified in the study “The Ill-Prepared U.S. Workforce”.

  8. Hey Jeanne!

    Can I get your permission to repost this as an article in our local chapter’s ASTD newsletter? At the conclusion of the article, we’ll post a link to read more of your writing at your blog! We already have your RSS plugged into a widgit in one of our margins (



  9. Many of the comments already posted resonate true to me as well. I believe that Social learning reinforces the transition of responsibility for gaining the necessary knowledge to do your job well from a corporate learning department to the learners themselves. That then changes our roles as providers of knowledge to ensuring that the content is available in a medium that is just-in-time… what they need, when they need it. Reinforcing learning, regardless of where it was obtained, also becomes our responsibility to ensure application.

    I am excited for the new year and new opportunities!

  10. Great article, although I find that learning has always been social and collaborative (as opposed to “training”).
    If there is one word I would like to add for 2010, it would be “SEX”. Please don’t hit the spam-comment button upon reading this, because there is a good explanation: the sex metaphor reminds us of the very basics whenever we would tend to get lost in social media fads and trends. Here is ther link to a movie explaining why (no explicit language – I promise!!):
    Best regards,
    Luc Galoppin

  11. I truly agree with these five words for 2010
    Well,I describe these five words for best learning experiance in 2010 and years to come.just briefing the definitions

    Social:-The term Social refers to a characteristic of living organisms (humans in particular, though biologists also apply the term to populations of other animals). It always refers to the interaction of organisms with other organisms and to their
    collective co-existence,irrespective of whether they are aware of it or not, and irrespective of whether the interaction is voluntary or involuntary.

    Mobile:-Any sort of learning that happens when the learner is not at a fixed, predetermined location, or learning that happens when the learner takes advantage of the learning opportunities offered by mobile technologies.In other words, mobile learning decreases limitation of learning location with the mobility of general portable devices

    Collaborative:-Collaboration is a recursive process where two or more people or organizations work together in an intersection of common goals.These methods specifically aim to increase the success of teams as they engage in collaborative problem solving.

    Engaging:-Pleasing in a way that attracts and holds the attention or tending to draw favorable attention or interest of people.

    Fun:-Recreation or fun is the expenditure of time in a manner designed for the refreshment of one’s body or
    is active for the participant but in a refreshing and diverting manner.

    Thanks for the post
    Online E-learning Software & Script

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