Fortune 500 Companies Go Online To
Create World’s Largest Learning Center
A consortium of Fortune 500 companies has created
the world’s largest, private learning institution, making available
over 500,000 Web-based courses to 2.7 million employees.
Courses range from 30-minute refreshers covering
multiple topics to master’s degrees in business with curricula
adapted from Stanford University, The London School of Economics, and
other prestigious centers of scholarship.
Called LearnShare and located in Toledo, Ohio, the
consortium of non-competing businesses is transforming the ways companies
research, design, purchase, package, and communicate career development
and skill enhancement courses to employees.
“Employee knowledge has become a strategic
tool and competitive necessity, and LearnShare serves this need, delivering
customized courses to millions of potential students anywhere on the
globe,” said Lois Webster, general manager of LearnShare. “Students
can take courses at whatever time of day or night best suits them.”
U.S. corporations will spend over two billion dollars
for online training and development programs this year, and this is
projected to increase to $23 billion by 2004, according to a recent
report by International Data Corporation. IDC predicts the market will
more than double in each of the next three years.
LearnShare also serves as a learning solutions center,
Webster said. Members can request a course for a specific need and it
is instantly posted on sites of leading learning providers.
Quotes on customized courses are returned within
48 hours, and all LearnShare members have access these programs when
they are developed.
Members also share proprietary research results and
success stories, and are online to answer questions and help solve problems
to fulfill each other’s needs. Current projects include assisting
Owens Corning, a LearnShare charter member, in creating a corporate
Other charter LearnShare members include General
Motors, Pfizer, Motorola, 3M, Chevron, Northwest Airlines, Deere &
Co., Eaton, Levi Strauss, Owens-Illinois, GTE, United Parcel Service,
CNA Insurance,and Pilkington. Total annual sales of these companies
exceed $350 billion.
Webster noted that LearnShare is offering two-year
sustaining memberships to other Fortune 500 corporations and to smaller
companies. These memberships, she said, provide access to the best programs,
practices, and thinking of some of the world’s largest and most
successful companies and learning centers.
Most LearnShare courses are delivered through
seven global learning providers specializing in corporate education
and development: THINQ of Billerica, Mass.; UNext of Deerfield, Ill;
QuicKnowledge of Springville, Utah; Development Dimensions International
(DDI) of Pittsburgh; Ninth House of San Francisco; and 24/7 University
of Irving, Texas.
U. S. Companies Spending Billions
On Employee E-Learning Programs
U.S. companies spend enormous amounts on employee
career education and skills enhancement – almost $65 billion dollars
this year alone. Less than two percent – over two billion dollars
– is allotted to Web-based delivery systems, but these numbers
will change dramatically.
A study by IDC predicts that by 2004 the Web will
dwarf all other learning methods and capture 80 percent of the employee
education and development market – some $24 billion.
“The face of corporate education has changed
forever,” said Lois Webster, general manager of LearnShare, a
Toledo, Ohio, consortium of Fortune 500 firms. LearnShare members pool
resources to provide Web-based career development and skills training
for 2.5 million worldwide employees.
“The advent of the Internet and the subsequent
explosion in on-line learning is totally transforming the way companies
enhance the skills and knowledge of their employees,” Webster
“These changes are increasing access, lowering
costs, improving quality and efficiency of presentation, and introducing
fundamental alterations in the structure and culture of corporate education
Webster noted that a recent study by the American
Society of Training and Development revealed these findings:
A Merrill Lynch report profiling the U.S. market
for corporate training services indicates that education and development
is the number one source of competitive advantage for companies. Indeed,
for every dollar spent on training, there is an estimated $30 gain in
productivity, according to studies conducted by Motorola.
“The growth of the knowledge-based economy
and the shortage of skilled labor, along with the rise of the Web and
corporate intranets, have created the need for new approaches to employee
skill enhancement and career development programs,” Webster said.
“LearnShare was formed to provide this new
direction, and the Web is our strategic tool.”
LearnShare E-Learning Providers
Most LearnShare courses are delivered through seven
career development and skills training providers:
THINQ – Headquartered in Billerica, Mass., THINQ is a solutions
center for corporate learning, connecting businesses and professionals
with over 3,000 providers offering more than 500,000 educational and
training courses. Users also can post requests for customized programs
and receive quotes within 48 hours. Website: thinq.com
UNext – Headquartered in Deerfield, Ill., UNext offers advanced
business courses through its Cardean University. Courses are adapted
from curricula of the University of Chicago, Carnegie Mellon Institute,
Stanford University, Columbia Business School, and The London School
of Economics. Website: unext.com
SkillSoft – Headquartered in Nashua, N.H., SkillSoft offers
business, government, and educational organizations 350
e-learning courses in 16 key business segments. These include leadership,
management, project management, and other skills fundamental to executive
development. Website: skillsoft.com
QuicKnowledge – Headquartered in Springville, Utah, QuicKnowledge
focuses on just-in-time e-learning that can be absorbed in one session
or in smaller portions. Hundreds of 30- to 40-minute “how to”
courses cover sales, meetings, and marketing techniques. Website:
Ninth House – Headquartered in San Francisco, Ninth House provides
a multimedia, interactive approach to learning through games, videos,
storytelling, and other techniques that engage and involve students.
Renowned management consultants Tom Peters, Ken Blanchard, and Peter
Senge designed content for these courses. Website: ninthhouse.com
Development Dimensions International (DDI) – Headquartered in
Pittsburgh, Pa., DDI called upon 30 years of management consulting
experience to develop leadership development videos for high-level
management and younger executives on fast promotion tracks. LearnShare
members also have access to DDI’s proprietary Online Performance
and Learning (OPAL) system that assesses executive job performance
development on a day-to-day basis. Website: ddiworld.com
24/7 University – Headquartered in Irving, Texas, 24/7 University
delivers streaming videos directly to student desktops via host company
intranets. More than 150 courses are offered. Website: 247university.com.
Lois Webster Named General Manager
Of World’s Largest Corporate Educator
Lois Webster, director of Motorola University Business Systems
Integration, has joined LearnShare as general manager (Jan. 2001). Ms.
Webster will be on a two-year assignment at the Toledo-based e-learning
consortium, which is comprised of Fortune 500 companies in the U.S.
Ms. Webster joined Motorola in 1990 and has been director of
Motorola University in China and for the North and South Asia Pacific
regions. Prior to that she was Director of Motorola University for the
Northeastern United States.
Formed in 1995, LearnShare is the world’s largest corporate
educator, making available over 500,000 web-based courses to 2.5 million
member company employees.
For More Information:
Lois Webster, General Manager
Tim Trainor, General Manager