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Workplace education gets easier – and more important

Getting educated used to mean sitting in a classroom. For adult students, acquiring knowledge required enrolling in night courses, a grueling endeavor that involved skipping dinner and fighting rush-hour traffic to arrive at a crosstown campus, or begging the boss for money to attend a far-away conference.

Thankfully, learning on the job is far more convenient these days. MOOCs, wikis and podcasts bring the classroom to wherever you are.

Those sort of advances are celebrated by Learning at Work Week, an annual event hosted by the Campaign for Learning. The 2018 installment, which spotlights the importance and benefits of workplace education, is scheduled for May 14 to May 18.

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Matthew Murdoch and Treion Muller, senior online learning executives at training firm FranklinCovey, see explosive growth in workplace training. Indeed, they titled their book on the topic The Learning Explosion.

Thanks to rapid advances in technology, the traditional learning model has blown up – in a good way. Blogs, social media, apps and online communities all give employers and employees newfound flexibility as they pursue continuing education.

“The learning explosion is moving faster and faster and shows no signs of slowing,” they write.

What about the quality and effectiveness of online study? Some research shows virtual students perform better than pupils who learn in traditional classrooms.

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Learning is more important than ever, writes Roland Deiser in Designing the Smart Organization. Learning is not just some program before, after or outside of work, he argues.

It’s actually a crucial part of company strategy. Ongoing education can turn an organization into an “innovation engine” that can weather volatility, changing customer demands and economic cycles. Deiser says companies should strive to create a cycle where “learning drives business and business drives learning.”

In other words, workplace education isn’t simply a nice perk to offer employees. It’s crucial to any company’s long-term success.

As former General Electric CEO Jack Welch once opined,  “An organization’s ability to learn, and translate that learning into action rapidly, is the ultimate competitive advantage.”

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