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Executive Learning Workgroup

Project Descripton for The Executive Learning Workgroup
Executive Learning Workgroup: Purpose Statement

The Executive Learning Workgroup exists to collaborate in studying the use, impact and implications of new technologies for pedagogy and administration in executive education.

The group was established, as explained at Annecy in May 2004, because:-

“Oracle wishes to work with Business Schools to explore how future pedagogies may develop and the way technology can facilitate improvements in the learning process. The best way to carry this out is through an interactive process that involves teaching and learning professionals.It is acknowledged that the pedagogy for graduate learning differs from the pedagogy of executive learning.   Given the economic significance of executive programmes to business schools, the focus of the workshop will be on Executive Education. The express purpose of the workshop will therefore be to explore the options available for creating new models of executive learning by leveraging the latest ICT (Information Communications Technology).”

This was set in the context that:-

“Research and teaching form the twin foundations of Business Schools. New technologies, including the Internet, have altered the form of both research and teaching. Continued evolution of the technology together with an analysis of the research and teaching outcomes will highlight future aspects of their interaction. The Internet has created a rich research resource that has had a fundamental impact on information availability. It has also created new forms of interaction whereby learning communities can be more widely dispersed geographically. Information based resources have been utilised for many years, from the first introduction of CBT through to the more recent eLearning platforms. In essence these systems have mirrored the traditional pedagogies of the institutions that have adopted them. However, there is the potential to develop new pedagogies that allow new modes of learning to occur, with these being facilitated by technology. It is likely that Business Schools will play the leading role in establishing these new pedagogies, given their diverse constituencies.”

The Key features of the initial 2 day workshop were to:

•  Evaluate the executive learning model.
•  Start the process of shaping new models for learning with ICT.
•  Share best practice from leading experts and practitioners.
•  Understand the scope and capability of Oracle's software.

In subsequent calls the group began to develop a comprehensive map of the terrain they wished to explore. A series of calls refined the work area which was elaborated at face-to-face meeting at London Business School (August 2004) and INSEAD, Paris (December 2005). After August the group opened an wiki as an online contribution space where the work was coordinated. A series of monthly project conference calls and “themed” conference calls helped to strengthen the work schedule outlined by the group at INSEAD.The group identified some major strands to be investigated.

The Voice of the Practitioner
Each individual group member is the holder of vast amounts of information about how their schools operate, what they have found to be successful or unsuccessful, what clients are finding useful or saying are not worthwhile, the needs that clients are outlining in discussions, the bounds or limitations of current thinking within their institution and the directions being favoured by those working with clients.Listening to the practical experience of individuals, about what works and does not work, unlocks a vast store of anecdotal experience, and sharing a conversation between practitioners allows everyone to move their thinking ahead. Each individual, of course, takes something different from the conversation depending on their personal situation, working practices and priorities but the overall effect is the provision of an opportunity for advancement through sharing of experience.

The Voice of the Client

Listening to clients has always been important but is even more so in a climate of quickly evolving technological change. The group decided that to provide unique opportunities for client discussions around technology, executive education and business value was an important function. Creating a sounding board where clients’ views on current practices, business needs and technological innovation are integrated into a forum focused on forward thinking is of paramount importance for the group.

New technologies
With business operating at the cutting edge of technology, to maximize their profit and minimize operating costs, the group recognizes that the cutting edge of learning technology is where we must look for the next advances in learning and teaching. The group has set up a programme to explore new technologies and their impact on teaching and learning in executive education

What members say about the Executive Learning Workgroup.

“I have thoroughly enjoyed being here (the IESE workshop). There is nowhere else in the world where these conversations are happening and I cannot imagine anyone not wanting to be part of it. Sign me up for research question 2.”
Avery Duff -Rolls Royce,May 2005

“On the whole, we evaluate highly our experience in Oracle’s executive learning workgroup. Although the outcomes of this experience differ slightly with our original expectations, they have represented real value to our institution and our participants. Let me quickly review our perceptions of the group’s ideas, people and opportunities.

The groups’ major contribution has been in the introduction and analysis of ideas on improving the impact of ICT in management education. We have had several opportunities to listen to the issues and the challenges of leveraging ICT in a variety of business schools and more recently corporate learning centres. The group has introduced concepts like Thompson’s 2x2 matrix and Ruston’s ICT matrix that have proven useful in understanding the broader picture of improving the value propositions of corporate education. The different workshops have provided a forum in which to analyze examples of best practice and to examine how such practices might be applied to our own programmes.  On a personal note, the ELW has provided me the opportunity to clarify my own ideas in this area.

The Executive Learning Workshops have also helped reinforce an identifiable community of practionners and researchers from many of Europe’s top business schools. The workshops themselves have provided a less academic setting to discuss the business issues of management education independent of the cultural and hierarchical considerations of individual schools. The development of our social networks in the area of management education is a clearly valuable deliverable, especially in the « corporate world ». The ideas and suggestions of several exceptional members of the ELW have and will continue to influence our thoughts on management education.

ELW has not to date produced the business opportunities we expected for the community as a whole. In our opinion, this result is due more to the nature of the group than from any lack of effort from the group’s sponsors. The group’s participants seem more at ease in « reflecting » on the issues and challenges of management education than actually « producing » responses to customer challenges. The group’s operating mode, based on facilitation, has not resulted in a common vision of how to more forward. This result is perhaps indicative of the absence, both for individual schools and for the group as a whole, of a viable and clearly defined business model for corporate education.On the whole, the project has produced a certain number of concrete deliverables that we feel justified our active participation in the group. The « off white » paper provided us with an opportunity to clearly formulate our ideas on corporate education and to solicit feedback and suggestions from the group. The current research paper on « work based pedagogy » with the IESE and MIT has provided a forum for both active discussion and concrete propositions. Our analysis of the schools’ current operations has permitted us to identify elements of a viable business model for future projects in corporate education.  Finally, the ideas, the network and the experience proposed by the ELW provide a platform that will help shape our corporate education offer in the foreseeable future.”

Professor Lee Schlenker EM Lyon - August 1st 2005

“As we were discussing at the airport, and as I’ve subsequently told people here at Cranfield; I found the discussions and general tenor of the IESE meeting extraordinarily relevant, interesting and critical to what I’m attempting to achieve here at Cranfield School of Management. A very big ‘thank you’ to IESE, Oracle & Ultralab (and our fellow colleagues) for hosting and contributing to such a useful event.The discussion of the group – both at this event and over the past year – have helped me refine my strategy for networked learning and hence our value proposition to our clients. The consequences of the group’s activities have spread further than perhaps we can all imagine; I was just checking to make sure you all realised that.”

Toby Thompson Cranfield University-May 27th 2005

“Thank you for soliciting feedback on the ELW experience.  I would like to complement you and Martin for convening us, inspiring us, and keeping us on track and focused.

As educational institutions, we all have our own view of the demand for executive/graduate education in management and how best to fulfil it. One of the great benefits of having Oracle as the convening organization is that you have provided us with an external focus to which we can all contribute without getting overly protective of our own space. We all seem to have come to a common ground of realizing that collaboration platforms provide and will continue to provide an important aspect of executive education, and we all share a frustration that the software/platforms are not where we need them to be.  At the same time, as we have discussions keeping a strong eye to the technological ramifications of the emerging needs, we have:

Discovered new ways of thinking about what we can offer industry

Confirmed what we are all hearing from the market for our services

Fed back to you, hopefully, useful end user requirements for software that would serve the education market

Generally created a network of colleagues that will serve us all well.

It is safe to say that it is very unlikely that such a group could have formed and generated such a constructive, committed community without Oracle's and your leadership. I can say that I am still hopeful of looking at Oracle's collaborative software, when it is ready.  Martin's work on the Wikki has been exceptionally useful as a locus around which our efforts revolve.  I am sure the Oracle software will be even better. 

I hope that this collaboration will continue.  It has been useful from our point of view and, hopefully, has fed back to Oracle in a way that serves your purposes as well.”

Toby Woll – MIT -27th July 2005

“I have used so much of my experiences with the Executive Learning Workgroup to help my thinking in terms of how we move forward. It’s a high quality, focused group delivering informed debate, and it’s the mixture of Business Schools, technology and other thought processes, which makes it particularly powerful. I want to stay a part of it.”
Avery Duff, Head of International Human Resources, Rolls Royce International, 2nd March 2006.

Would you like to know more?

Contact the Project Director:  Martin Doherty  

Phone (mobile) +44 7968 251939

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