Current Issues in International and Distance Learning

Current Issues in International and Distance Learning” was our August presentation.  The program raised awareness to a critical aspect of business in today’s constantly changing environment – learning. Regardless of what our company is doing today, we continue to learn and change with the demands of our industries. In turn, this means we need to prepare our employees to learn and grow as opportunities present themselves. Four broad themes emerged during the presentation and are summarized below.

Talent, Talent, Talent (Presented by: John Burke, Lee Hecht Harrison & UH HRD Advisory Board)

Do you know the health of your talent? Do your leaders know how to manage change while retaining and engaging key talent? Most companies spend their budgets in human capital resources on the top and bottom 10%. However, that means 80% of your employees may feel ignored. Can you imagine how productive your company will be if 80% of your employees are just 5% more efficient/effective?

The bottom line: know your talent – where is it and where do you want it to be?

Don’t just do something – SIT THERE! (Presented by: Dr. Peter Bishop, Associate Professor of Futures Studies, University of Houston)

That’s right, sit…and think. Spend just 2-3% of your time focusing on the future and you will be better prepared tomorrow. It’s easy for businesses to forecast where they want to be in 10 years – financially, socially, politically, but what about people? What skills will our workforce need 5 or 10 years from now? What will the client of the future expect of your company? What if, contrary to what we expect, the internet becomes so plagued with spam, that companies re-focus their learning events towards pre-recorded (instead of Live) learning? What are you doing today to meet the future expectations of your company’s leaders and clients? How much is 2-3%? It’s just 10-15 minutes a day. Get ready. The future is now.

Cross-Cultural Learning (Presented by: Beatriz Arnillas, Head of Educational Production and Outreach, University of Houston)

Not all learning is received equally. Did you know that most trainers teach or “facilitate” using their preferred learning style? Along with our individual learning preferences, we each have our own innate cultural preferences when it comes to learning. Therefore, in order for learning to be effective, we need to analyze the learner characteristics in relation to the specific business needs and the context in which the solution will be delivered. Not only do we need to be aware of learning preferences, industry’s culture and context country by country, but also region by region within that country (yes, I mean the United States too!). Make sure you understand the context of learning and HOW people in your audience have learned most effectively in the past.

Storytelling: Ties that Bind (Presented by: Steve Dowdall, Cardtronics & UH HRD Advisory Board)

How have MOST cultures learned in the past? Storytelling. Think back to our first recorded history found on cave walls and scrawled on tablets. These early historians were instrumental in documenting what happened, but more importantly, they provided future generations with a cultural narrative to preserve HOW the group was expected and known to act.

So…How is your company leveraging the power of stories to teach others valuable lessons within the context of your business? What stories have you and your leaders created to preserve and steer your culture in a positive direction? Think about it.

Learning and Development in India – Presented by: Madhuri Kumar, Director of Instructional Technology and Adjunct Instructor of Human Resource Development, University of Houston

India has the second largest population in the world, the 11th largest economy, hosts a population with a wide range of religious, urban and rural, modern and pre-modern, ethnic and language backgrounds (though English is the official one,) and is expected to soon become one of the largest, most influential economies in the world and it is already to preferred outsourcing location for Western corporations. The sub-continent’s cultural context is significantly different from Western cultures, exhibiting lower individualistic index and a very long-term orientation index. How is a Western company to approach learning & development for Indian professionals who will work in the West? How to develop those who will work in India?

We want to thank Jim Molloy, a member of our Advisory Committee for his assistance with the program. Jim is also on the UH HRD Advisory Board and is a Senior Manager, AERS Learning & Development at Deloitte.

If you seek expertise on assessing, training or growing your human capital, consider collaborations with students, faculty and staff at The University of Houston’s Human Resource Development Program and Futures Studies in the College of Technology. Dozens of interns and faculty members are actively supporting our community working with small non-profit organizations to Fortune 500 companies.

If you like more information, please contact Beatriz Arnillas at The University of Houston’s College of Technology, 713 743 4637.

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One Response to Current Issues in International and Distance Learning

  1. Larry Scott says:

    Thank you to all of the faculty and staff at the University of Houston HRD Program. We are excited about our scholarship for students in the program that have a demonstrated interest in international HR. As part of our commitment to our community and developing the next generation of international HR professionals, we will contribute a portion of all memberships received before December 31, 2010 to the scholarship.

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