Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Real Story About Online Learning - Revisited III

Donald M. Norris, President and Chief Scientist, Stratgeic Inititaives, Inc.
Paul Lefrere, Partner, Strategic Inititaives, Inc.

This is the third of four blog posts on this subject.

III. Evolution of Learning Settings from Institutional to Open

The learning settings described in the first vector of evolution are institutional: Traditional colleges and universities (including their extension and continuing education divisions), for-profit universities, and learning enterprises in corporations. These so-called “institutional” settings will continue to be the primary players in traditional learning. But they will see their dominance shrink in the face of open learning environments that are the property of the student, not the institution. The challenge institutions face is to keep pace with both the changing nature of knowledge and competence, as well as the inexorable move toward greater value in learning and competence building experiences. Over time, open learning with the student at the center of a personal learning environment (such as a free-range learner) will be the predominant mode for the next generation of learners over the course of their lives.

Clear “stages” of open learning have not yet revealed themselves. They may emerge over time – or not. Several prototypes and expeditionary experiments have been described in earlier blogs. Some of the new forms of open learning environments and experiences are described below.

Peer-to-Peer Voluntary Associations. A recent article in Fast Company, “How Web-Savvy Edupunks are Transforming American Higher Education,” described the growing movement toward high-tech, do-it-yourself education. Some of these experiments reside within existing institutional settings, such as classes structured like role-playing, serious games that are being tested out in universities across the globe. Others are occurring in start-up organizations, like Peer2Peer University and the University of the People, attempting to bridge the gap between free online materials and low-cost education.

Neeru Paharia and Jan Phillip Schmidt have hacked together Peer2Peer University, which uses a Web site to enable would-be-students to convene and schedule courses, meet online, tutor one another, all facilitated by a volunteer. This is very much a demonstration of concept. Shai Reshef founded University of the People and has enrolled the first class of 300 students from nearly 100 countries. His goal is to offer bachelor’s degrees in business and computer science using open courseware and volunteer faculty for a price of about $4,000 for a four-year degree.

Other pundits, such as Richard Vedder, have mused about US associate degrees for as little as $2,000 (low by US standards, but not globally).

Formal Communities of Practice.
Informal and formal communities of practice are common in the world of business and professional practice. These sorts of communities will become the focal points for open learning experiences in the future. Earlier blogs described the efforts of Oregon State University to create an Open Campus dedicated to community-based learning. Extension Divisions in land grant universities across the U.S. have offerings that could become the basis for community-based learning. Another example is the Food Safety Knowledge Network.

In their partnership with the Global Food Safety Initiative, Michigan State is developing the Food Safety Knowledge Network (FSKN), a program of food safety resources to efficiently and effectively reach competency at all levels of food safety. The FSKN will use open resource techniques (social networking, dynamic knowledge sharing and evaluation tools) to harmonize standards, practices, and training criteria. The FSKN pilot platform will be in place in late 2009 and will be rolled out globally in 2010. The FSKN will create a curriculum for food safety competency through partnerships with industry, government, academia, local/regional authorities, and other stakeholders. Coupled with a unique learning environment using face-to-face sessions, seminars, formal courses and on-line learning, it will present a low cost, fast and efficient way for professionals to achieve competence across all sectors of the food safety industry.

Community-of-practice learning is likely to thrive in the Web 2.0 environment. Its permutations are virtually limitless. One of the advantages of learning based on real communities of practices will be the capacity to receive early warning of the emerging competences that are essential in particular fields of endeavor. Communities of practices will be able to identify, promote, and develop fresh competences at warp speed among large bodies of participating practitioners.

Free-Range Open Learning.
Over time, individual learners will have access to a vast constellation of open-learning experiences and resources. These will range from formal communities of practice and competence building networks, to easily configured, temporary learning cohorts. Using these tools and experiences, individuals will be able to develop, maintain, and extend their competence in a variety of ways and at very reasonable prices, or even at no cost. Even when “mature”, this array of alternatives will be perpetually changing, adapting, and improving.

This environment will constitute a “free range” option for learners who appreciate alternatives to traditional or even transformed institutional learning. These options will enable most adult learners to more easily advance and maintain their competences by acquiring new and emerging skills at a pace that institutional learning cannot match – at least not today (just as there is no “I” in team, there is no “academic senate” or “curriculum committee” in open learning).

Open learning environments and experiences will interact with institutional learning, assessment, and certification experiences. Institutions that do an excellent job of competence-based learning may become certifying entities that charge a fee for authenticating competences acquired through open learning, and awarding credit, certificates and degrees for a fee. This is one way in which the two evolutional paths of learning and competence with link together. Mash-ups to encourage, facilitate these linkages are under development in Europe, in partnerships between business/industry (a primary source of information on the skills that graduates need to be employable) and universities. By way of an example, read through the description and materials on Project Role, co-funded by the European Union (http://www.role-project.eu).

Many more examples exist across the globe, in a virtual archipelago of open learning experiments, prototypes, and expeditions. Recently, some pundits have questioned whether open learning endeavors can survive when they lose the seed funding from foundations, the European Commission, and other parties that have sustained ‘first gen’ open resource initiatives. A more apt set of questions may be: Which government(s) or corporate entities from across the globe will step into the breach to invest in open resources in the future? Will they do so in a manner that will disrupt traditional offerings and create opportunities for continuing reinvention of learning and competence building? How will this foment a change in the balance of competence power and the competition for talent across the globe?

Many Models, Competing for Learners. These two evolutionary paths do not suggest that any single model will become dominant for all learners, at all stages of their development. But they do mean that institutions will need to sort out their competitive position and determine how to provide a range of options that will be optimally attractive to their learners. Merely digitizing the traditional and hoping for the best will not be a winning strategy.

It will be possible for institutions to learn from emerging best practices and skip stages of evolution. In particular, institutions that aggressively practitice online, blended, and e-learning at Stage I can raise their sights and transform their practices to make a jump shift to Stages III and IV, with further evolution to Stage V. Such leaps could become feasible with strong campus-level leadership, recognizing the strategic potential ob online learning.

Monday, November 23, 2009

The Real Story About Online Learning - Revisited II

Donald M. Norris, President and Chief Scientist, Strategic Initiatives, Inc.
Paul Lefrere, Partner, Strategic Initiatives, Inc.

This is the second of four blog posts on this subject.

II. Two Evolutionary Transformations in the Models of Learning and Competence Building

In studying the strategies and actions of the market leaders, one should examine two evolutionary transformations that are ongoing and interconnected. These involve both the business models and learning settings of online learning. In our view, these dimensions are undergoing transformations that will shake higher education’s world.

First, there is the evolution of the business models for institutions and formal learning enterprises from today’s traditional premium price model (bundled learning, assessment, and certification; a focus on what constitutes a quality education/institution; and traditional roles for faculty) to a transformed model (unbundled and reimagined teaching, learning, assessment, and certification; value-based in times of scarce resources; reinvented roles for faculty, mentors, instructional designers, and peer-to-peer learning; and changing the financial model to achieve financial sustainability and lower prices to the consumer).

Second, there is the evolution of the learning setting from the traditional institutional setting to a transformed, open setting in which “open” includes but is not limited to Open Educational Resources (OER). Open also means that users have far more choice today about what they learn, how they learn it, what if anything they pay for it, and who they learn it with/from (e.g. peer-to-peer learning and community of practice-based learning). Some of these transformations are being incorporated in traditional institutional settings. Others are occurring outside the realm of accredited institutions and formal learning enterprises.

So let’s begin by discussing five stages in the transformation of the business model for online. These are presented in the graphic “Evolving Models of Learning and Competence Building” attached at the end of the white paper. The horizontal axis represents progressive transformation of business models toward greater value and financial sustainability. The vertical axis represents progressive expansion of open learning practices, both within traditional institutions (represented by the expansion of the “institutional arrow” in each successive stage) and in emerging peer-to-peer environments, communities of practice, and “free range learning.”

This diagram presents these stages as logical, sequential stages of evolution for describing the current state of development of online practices. The reality is substantially more complex. First, individual institutions may demonstrate characteristics of several stages at any point in time. Second, individual institutions may experience a jump shift and make a leap from Stage I to Stages III or IV if they achieve strong leadership, learn from the best practices of others, and develop or acquire infrastructures, processes and competences. And third, the boundaries between institutional and open learning experiences will blur as institutional practice evolves into States Iv and V.

Stage I: Online/Blended Learning Innovations, Traditional Financial Model. The first stage is one in which traditional institutions enable their faculty to put courses online and progressively create various forms of online, blended, and e-learning offerings under the institutional brand. These offerings are often more expensive to develop and launch than the traditional institutional offerings. They do not achieve any breakthrough economies, may use traditional or adjunct faculty, and replicate many existing practices. They do not use technology to truly transform faculty roles and patterns of interactivity. In the long run, this digitize-the-traditional and incrementally-improve the approach to online learning is a transitional state. This model will not be sustainable in the face of national and global competition.

Online/blended/e-learning innovations can work to reduce the overall cost to students and the institution, even if the tuition charged to students is the same or greater than the tuition for face-to-face instruction. Online students not only save on transportation costs, they reduce the opportunity costs of travel time, lost income, and such. This can be a significant savings. Blended learning can save institutions the cost of new facilities by reducing classroom demand and allowing institutions to reduce the impact of commuter student traffic and use of on-campus facilities and services. Campuses in hyper-growth metropolitan areas like the University of Central Florida use combinations of online, blended, and e-learning to “sculpt” enrollments at their multiple physical campuses and in virtual learning spaces.

Moreover, the market leaders in online learning have shown that technology can be used to unbundle and transform the existing classroom-centric model for individual courses. The course reinvention efforts of Carol Twigg at the National Center for Academic Transformation (NCAT) have improved performance and student success and reduced costs in virtually every physical or virtual course they have redesigned. Some institutions are scaling these processes to departmental, institution, or even system level. But the greatest challenge to scaling these approaches across the institutions has proven to be getting faculty and institutional leadership seriously interested in reducing costs, which some associate with diminishing quality. In times of constrained resources, institutional leaders need to focus on value, as well as quality. A genuine commitment to performance measurement and improvement requires a dedication to cost reduction in ways that does not diminish outcomes

These efforts at course reinvention can be a good start, but they are not sufficient to meet the challenges of establishing financial sustainability, post-recession. Sustainable online learning requires pervasive adoption of unbundling, reinvention, and a value focus to the entire online learning enterprise.

Many institutions remain stuck in the digitize-the-traditional-but-don’t-reinvent stage of development. In the WCET survey, most institutions were still searching for satisfactory, sustainable models for organizing and delivering online learning. They will continue to search fruitlessly unless they apply the following principle: The key to evolving new, sustainable models for online learning is to utilize technology to:

• unbundle and reinvent teaching, learning, assessment, and certification;

• focus on value, not just quality;

• change the use and roles of faculty, mentors, and peer-to-peer learning; and

• transform business models by: 1) continuously seeking new income streams that can mitigate the need to continuously increase tuition to fill revenue gaps 2) reducing operational overhead (i.e. new buildings, parking lots, dorms) and other costs; 3) seeking lower price points and enabling more rapid completion of learning objectives; and 4) reducing the total cost of achieving learning goals.

We remain hopeful that online, blended, and e-learning innovators will seize the opportunity to move on to transformation when they understand the potentials provided by Stages II-V, the challenges provided by the open learning movement, and the imperative of the Great Recession. The following stages illustrate how this evolution is being followed by market leaders.

Stage II: Unbundled Offerings, Reinvented Practices and Business Models, Premium Price. This stage developed at the same time as Stage I, but in different organizational cultures: for-profit institutions (and a small group of not-for-profit universities that deploy these techniques).

The for-profits such as the University of Phoenix, Capella University and others have utilized technology-supported learning to:

• reinvent their production function (using team-developed resources in all instances of creating courses ),

• engage mentors (who are not content experts) rather than traditional, tenure-track faculty, and

• deploy world-class (high-quality, high-value) online support services.

These providers also vet their offerings with employers more extensively, continuously and effectively than traditional universities.

This is neither black magic nor rocket science. The UK Open University pioneered many of these practices over 30 years ago as a not-for-profit, although recently it seems to be working hard to reinvent its mix of practices to fit today’s circumstances and to move to Stages III-V. Other non-profits like Regis University have emulated these methods. There may be as many as 1 million learners involved in these kinds of learning experiences.

These institutions focus on consistent, demonstrable outcomes and learning experiences especially attuned to the needs of working adult learners. The for-profits have achieved substantially lower production/delivery costs per student than traditional universities. This means paying close attention to class size: bigger means more opportunity to achieve economies of scale, without sacrificing quality of engagement and outcomes. Course materials are created by teams and used in all instances of the course. They utilize a core, standardized curricula to ensure consistency and quality of learning outcomes that, in turn allows for continuous improvements, refinements and ability to quickly incorporate new industry competencies. This practice affords economies of scope. At the same time, these institutions are able to charge a premium price for their offerings because of the recognized value they provide learners (courses taken sequentially, accelerated time to degree, lack of family/work barriers, and premium online services). The higher resulting margin/profit (difference between price and actual cost) is invested in extending institutional brand, business/industry market research, and instructional technology/systems development costs.

In future stages of development, many of today’s for-profit providers may not be able to maintain their current premium price levels, in the face of competition now emerging at the low end (from no-fee systems) and at the high end (from innovators such as Capella University who have migrated to a more competence-based approach that achieves a high perceived value with learners). Moreover, Capella-type innovators will be able to compete on lowering the total cost of achieving learning and competence objectives and eventually become certifying enterprises. More discussion about that in the description of Stages IV and V.

Stage III: Unbundled and Reinvented Offerings, Drive Down Marginal Costs, Offer a Market Competitive Price. Institutions like the Western Governors University, Florida State College at Jacksonville’s Open College, and Lamar University have reinvented the production function and faculty roles to achieve many of the financial advantages realized by the for-profits. They have used technology to unbundle and reinvent teaching, learning, assessment, and accreditation. While their methods vary, the basic principles are fundamentally the same.

These institutions pass the savings on to learners in the form of more competitive tuition – a strong value proposition. They charge a market-competitive rate that covers the marginal costs of learning. These institutions can grow based on tuition alone, rather than appropriations from their respective states. This is critical during times of financial recession, when student demand spikes and state resources decline.

Achieving this stage is essential for public institutions attempting to attain financial sustainability. It is a strong value position – but even this value position must be improved over time in the face of the withering competition that is emerging globally.

Stage IV: Continued Reinvention, Reduce Market Price and Total Cost of Competence, Respond to Competition. Inexorably, the affordability crisis will force learners and their families to search for better value/options. And the presence of new, lower-price alternatives will enable potential learners to shop around and consider different options.

Online providers will be driven to continue to reinvent their offerings, enhancing their value proposition through a variety of practices:

• create better, more amenable, and more effective, engaging learning and support experiences;

• demonstrate that their programs are linked to highly valued, demonstrable competences and employability success;

• decrease tuition and fees;

• reduce total cost of competence by reducing time to achieve competence objectives, certificates and degrees; and

• provide graduates with social-networking-based mechanisms for refreshing and maintaining their competences on an ongoing basis. Think of alumni associations as communities of practice, -- in particular disciplines, rather than as general purpose institutional associations. This could be especially attractive for online graduate programs that could be a ‘competency observatory” for their alumni, identifying emerging competences even before they are standard industry practice/requirements?.

These conditions will affect the for-profits as well as traditional institutions. The reduction in time to degree will be achieved in at least three ways:

• giving credit for prior learning more effectively and extensively,

• achieving competency-based approaches that unbundle and give credit for already acquired, demonstrated competences, and

• improving K-12 preparation for college-level work through P-20 improvement initiatives and partnerships. These efforts can substantially reduce the total cost of learning, over time.

A key factor in the price competition will be international competition. India- and China-based providers have entered the online tutoring business for K-12 and postsecondary education. They will soon be a force in online learning, as well, through acquisitions and repurposing of institutional providers in the US. Also, social networking-based learning offerings from commercial providers, perhaps using Second Life-like virtual and augmented reality environments, may soon enter the scene at very competitive price points.

Stage IV will be a time of withering competition and feverish efforts by institutional providers to demonstrate their adaptiveness and nimbleness in order to attract learners and offer distinctive, superior value propositions. Increasingly, open learning practices will be incorporated into institutional offerings and accepted for credit if they involve “recognized” providers (accredited with established articulation agreements). Fast, fluid, flexible, and affordable will be the watchwords of the day. Institutions will focus on developing infrastructure, support services, processes, and reward systems necessary to support these efforts.

Stage V: Continued Reinvention of Practices, Institutions Certify Both Institutional and Free-Range Learning. The graphic illustrates that with each successive stage of evolution, institutional learning also expands upward, embracing more open learning techniques within institutional learning practices. During Stage V, institutions will have incorporated open learning practices into their offerings and will accept and certify high-value outcomes provided by other institutions. In addition, selected leaders will have developed or acquired the capacity to certify free-range learning and competence building pursued by individuals independent of formal institutions.

This is a natural extension of the credit-for-prior-learning and competence-based learning movements. Not all institutions will have the core competences to become certification agencies for learning. Such institutions would likely charge a certification fee for conferring a degree for learning achieved elsewhere, in order to award valued certificates or degrees. This will prove attractive as peer-to-peer and “free range” learning opportunities develop. It is precisely the growth of non-institutional learning opportunities that is the second vector of evolution in e-learning methods, models, and practices.

It could take yearsfor this system of free-range learning and certification of competence to develop and be recognized and accepted by US employers. Decades, if the traditional pace of transformation persists. Or, it could happen more quickly than we think (it is already starting to happen elsewhere in the world). When it does, a learner who is home-schooled, self-taught or educated outside of the United States in a non-accredited institution, could take competency test/s and be granted a learning certificate or even a degree.

Leading institutions that develop the infrastructures, practices, processes, and core competences to demonstrate or certify competence will become certifying entities and/or license their practices to other institutions. This could be a lucrative business for forerunners like Capella University or Western Governors University who have led the way in competence-based learning and performance.

Friday, November 20, 2009

The Real Story About Online Learning - Revisited (Part I)

Donald M. Norris, President and Chief Scientist, Strategic Initiatives, Inc.
Paul Lefrere, Partner, Strategic Initiatives and Professor, University of Tampere, Finland

Based on comments on our earlier blog on this topic, we have expanded it, added a graphic, and divided it into four parts:

I. Following the Example of Strategic Market Leaders
II. Two Evolutionary Transformations in the Models of Learning and Competence Building
III. Evolution in Learning Settings from Institutional to Open
IV. Getting Strategic About Online Learning

We shall post these over the next few days.

I. Following the Example of Strategic Market Leaders

Over the past several weeks, online learning has been in the news. Two points of reference are especially worth noting.

First, The Chronicle of Higher Education and Inside Higher Education both reported on the recent report on online learning by Kenneth C. Green, Director of the Campus Computing Project. While there is a clear global trend towards lower-cost (even no-cost) online learning, this survey of senior officials at 182 public and private nonprofit colleges, conducted in conjunction with the Western Cooperative for Educational Telecommunications (WCET), found that many US institutions actually charge a premium for their online offerings through higher tuition, fees, and special charges.

This survey also found that many US institutional leaders were uncertain about the profitability of their online operations or how they compared, performance-wise, with traditional offerings. Many institutions were still searching for effective organizational models and structures for online learning. Dr. Green also found that many institutions were reticent to provide their data in ways that would reveal their practices.

Second, last week the 15th Annual Meeting of the Sloan Consortium explored the state of best practice in online, blended, and e-learning. The progressive growth of online learning has been chronicled by Sloan’s Annual Survey. By extrapolating 2008 figures, Dr. Frank D. Mayadas, founder of the Sloan Consortium, projected that in 2009 well over 4 million students may be enrolled in at least one online course in the United States. Even this figure underestimates the penetration of online practices.. Many students are concurrently enrolled in blended and e-learning offerings at colleges and universities that that are enthusiastically rolling out new elearning offerings from coast to coast and beyond.

Yet Sloan’s emphasis has been on the mainstreaming of online learning, rather than on the transformational potential of online practices to deconstruct and reinvent educational practices and change the financial business model for higher education. It is our contention that transformational potential is the real story about online learning. Selected market leaders are demonstrating these practices, today.

Understand the Leaders, Not Just the Entire Population

None of this is truly surprising to anyone familiar with the development of online and blended learning in US higher education. Online and blended learning are broadly practiced, but true breakthrough practices are very limited to a set of market leaders, many of them for-profit institutions.

Online, Blended, and e-Learning, Broadly Practiced. Initially, most institutions use online learning to replicate their courses and curriculum practices in an online mode, making adjustments for the differences between the nature of online and face-to-face experiences. From this initial development phase, they progressively improve and enhance the online experience and discover the power that blended learning offers, combining online and physical elements to create more engaging student experiences. Blended learning has become the preferred mode for many practitioners, enabling institutions to reduce the need for classroom space and change pedagogical practices. Finally, institutional leaders incorporate the lessons learned from online and blended offerings to further enhance all face-to-face instruction with technology resources and techniques that work. As a result, face-to-face instruction morphs into ”e-learning.” Institutional leaders leverage this range of technology-supported learning offerings to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of their offerings and to provide learners with a portfolio of choices. Offering a range of instructional choices is especially attractive to adult learners and students who are working (the most recent data suggests that 70% or more of full-time enrolled students are working at least part-time.)

Breakthroughs by Market Leaders. Unlike emerging practice elsewhere in the world, the majority of US practitioners have not attempted systematically and systemically to unbundle learning, assessment, and certification and reinvent faculty roles. Nor have they attempted to fundamentally change the business model or price points for learning. For these reasons, looking at the herd is less instructive than understanding the global leaders and extrapolating their innovations into the future.

By examining the breakthroughs achieved in online learning by today’s current or emerging market leaders, both in the United States and abroad, we can better understand the real story about the potential future of technology-supported learning in all its settings and permutations. In this paper, we use the behavior of market leaders and trend setters to sketch the likely evolutionary path of online learning. We also describe how the vast number of mainstream practitioners can position themselves to take advantage of this evolution and position themselves for success while others, less well-prepared, face the withering competition to come.

Why Has Online Learning Become Even More Strategic?

Up to this point in its development, online learning has been waging a battle of acceptance with faculty, institutional leaders, and even some students. Research has shown that online learning has progressively come to be regarded as equivalent or even superior in some ways to traditional, face-to-face learning, especially among 18-24 year old and working adult learners and faculty who were early adopters..

But the Great Recession and the American Higher Education Affordability Crisis have raised the stakes for online learning not just in the U.S., but globally. Transformed versions of online, blended and e-learning hold the potential to be essential elements of the reimagining of American higher education, post recession, to make it sustainable worldwide. Four factors make this so:

• Addressing the American Affordability Crisis. Learners and parents are facing an affordability crisis of unprecedented propositions. In America, the cumulative effect of year-after-year escalating costs of tuition has outstripped the rate of inflation for 30 years running. Gradually American higher education a pricey if not unattainable proposition, for many potential learners. The current recession, rising unemployment, and collapse of the housing market have reduced the net worth of families and changed the educational plans of many learners.

Community colleges and for-profit educational providers have experienced explosive growth in demand this year as learners turn to more convenient, local, high-value, alternatives to mid-ranking public four-year institutions and private colleges. Some community colleges in especially strapped states like California have turned away legions of students this year. Truly transformed learning, using combinations of online, blended, and e-learning, has the potential to both reduce the total cost of achieving competence objectives and improve the success of learners by providing a range and mix of options that meet their personal and financial needs.

The pages of The Chronicle of Higher Education and Inside Higher Education are peppered with stories of community colleges, in particular, whose leaders are experimenting with increasingly transformative mixtures of solutions to these challenges.

• Achieving Financial Sustainability Requires Transformation. The model for funding public institutions is broken, as has been reflected in the diminishing relative level of public support for education in general over the past three decades. During recessionary times, community colleges and other public four-year institutions typically experience their greatest enrollment demand at a time when state and local resources decline. Transformed learning can change the business model so that the marginal cost of learning is consistently reduced to less than the price of tuition, allowing growth to meet demand, even during recession. Market leaders have already achieved this goal. Post recession, the rest of American higher education needs to adopt and scale these practices.

• Transformed Online Learning is a Part of Broader Institutional Strategies. Institutional leaders have spent 2008 “staunching the flow” of the resource impact of the Great Recession. They recognize that they must use 2009-2012 to aggressively leverage stimulus funding and discover not just efficiencies, but innovations and transformations that will enable them to achieve financial sustainability when the stimulus money is gone. Transformed online, blended, and e-learning is one of a set of even broader institutional strategies to achieve financial sustainability that we mention in our white paper, “Linking Analytics to Lifting out of Recession.”

Jobs, Jobs, Jobs. The link between learning and employability is tenuous and must be strengthened if America’s to regain its competitive position in the global economy. Learning experiences must be more closely linked to active, immersive application and to the workplace. The capacity to perpetually enhance competences to maintain or raise competitiveness is enhanced with online learning and Web 2.0 tools and patterns of interactivity.

As we look at the future potential of online learning and competence building, we should learn from market leaders how to leverage transformation in business models and learning settings, as described in the next series of blogs..