Blackboard Corporate Education Forum: To Know Is to Grow

Tom Holz and E-Learn Team
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For Blackboard, nothing is more important than learning. The reason is simple: in today’s global economy, the organizations that are adapting to today’s challenges yet preparing for tomorrow’s will be at the forefront of innovation and growth. A company’s most critical asset is its people and ensuring that your people are equipped with the skills needed to help your company grow should be one of your top strategic initiatives. The most effective way of doing this is by constant learning and delivering knowledge to your people in a way that is scalable and sustainable.

“Employees that don’t spend 5 hours a week learning online, will make themselves obsolete”. With that quote from Randall Stephenson*, Tom Holz, Managing Director for Blackboard Business & Government International, opens up a debate towards a subject that has shocking figures: according to experts, in the next fifteen years, around 2 billion jobs will disappear; that means 47% of the jobs existing today. It’s likely that many of those job will change rather than disappear but again that means people need to continue to evolve and grow.

Engagement and organizational culture are key because talented employees are the biggest asset of a company. But how do organizations keep them interested, motivated and, above all, current? With education, of course! In a world marked with a fluctuating economy and competitive scenarios, those who have the knowledge are those who evolve, adapt, and remain engaged for the long haul.

Due to the relevance of this and other matters related to corporate education, learning & development, Blackboard is holding a Corporate Forum this month. This event is the perfect opportunity for hearing more about how organizations are addressing development in their organizations and will provide great opportunities to network. It gives current customers the opportunity to share their experiences using Blackboard solutions and for new organizations to gather information on how to expand their learning and development programs.

We interviewed Tom Holz, who is leading the forum, to talk about the profile of attendees, company leaders, and the main topics and trends that will be discussed.

Why is this event so important to the corporate market?

This is an opportunity to network but most importantly to learn about the criticality of learning and development and identify trends that you should be prepared for as an organization. Blackboard has been working with more than 1800 Corporate & Government organisations since 1997 and two years ago doubled down in International markets. We want to invest in the community and bring leaders together to share ideas, network with each other, and hear from other large companies about how they engage their people and drive culture.

What are the main topics of the conference?

Culture, engagement, growth, and development. It is important to talk about how to help your people and make your organization more effective through online & blended learning. Some leaders will share what it is like to manage large organizations and the challenges they face in preparing their global workforce for the challenges of the future. IBM will join us and will discuss the future of cognitive learning and analytics and the role those tools play in proactively managing your workforce.

Why is engagement key?

In a recent survey, several Fortune 500 Chief Executive Officers identified two main issues they are focused on: Corporate Culture and Employee Engagement. Tools like LinkedIn, Glassdoor and other social networks give employees a lot of power in terms of being able to move from one organization to another. The best employees have the opportunity to go anywhere. If you are highly skilled, possess strong communication and presentation skills, demonstrate initiative, and have a strong work ethic, your employer and others employers will want you. It’s critical that the organization helps employees with professional development and progression in their career. Today, the average employee stays with a company for less than three years and according to Deloitte will look for another employer 17.2 times, which means that most organizations go through significant brain drain periodically, and the cost of that is difficult to quantify and overcome.

It’s important to teach employees about the company so they can build a connection with the organization, understand the overall mission, but most importantly feel like they are contributing to that mission.

How does Blackboard help companies grow and improve their learning and development programs to better engage their people?

We offer a series of solutions all designed and built around training and development. We give organizations the tools and mechanism to deliver training to their employees in a measurable, convenient, and cost effective manner. We also offer strategic consulting to help ensure the success of those programs.

What are the most used technologies in corporate training?

Assessments, assignments, communication tools, customizable dashboards, and powerful analytics to fully understand what people are learning.

How are corporate online learning objectives and technology used differently than in higher education or K12?

There are actually a lot of similarities. However, I would say that the main difference is time. In the corporate world, the learning process happens faster. Universities are also trying to be more efficient and shorten the window of learning time. If you look at higher education, it works with midterms. Usually, a corporate program is going to occur in the matter of hours or days, not weeks or months. Secondly, regarding time, a lot of learning for employees happens on the job and they have a very small window to complete any formal self-paced or hybrid programs.

What new technologies are changing the face of corporate education? What is coming in the future?

Predictive learning and analytics. Analytics and big data give companies the ability to visualize and understand the learning and development that is happening and use that information to personalize that experience even more providing recommendations for employees on content or courses they might need or want to take. In addition, the systems are providing dashboards and information automatically to leadership to allow them to engage with their people. Finally microlearning and video based learning that are shorter while still enabling employees to grow in a shorter period of time are very trendy right now and we will see if it sticks. I think it will. All of this is to make the learning process more efficient.

About the event

What? Corporate Education Forum by Blackboard (within the the Teaching & Learning Conference 2017)

When? March 21st, 2017

Where? Milan’s Bocconi University

Who? With the participation of Nigel Jeremy, Chief Learning Officer of British Airways, as well as presentations by executives from very important companies such as IBM, Bosch, Go English, Secretaria de Marina, among others.

How much does it cost? Free entrance.

For more information:



*Tom Holz, Senior Director, Blackboard for Business International

*Photos by: AFP Nell Redmond

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