Learning & Development 2.0

20 December 10

Winning Strategies for Superior Programs

At futurethink, we are as dedicated to understanding the trends in corporate training as we are to being experts in innovation. This being the case, we often examine the upcoming trends and implications in the Learning & Development industry. If someone told you that in the future, a company’s #1 competitive advantage would be its ability to train and develop its human capital, how would you react?

Is your organization prepared for such a shift? How can you be sure your programs are focusing on the right skills, and delivering training in the best way? Are you getting the most out of the latest technologies? Have you tapped into the value of new strategies, such as game mechanics, to make training stick?

Our latest paper on Learning & Development (download for free HERE) answers these questions—and many more. Like so many fields, L&D is undergoing dynamic change. With a global, multi-generational workforce and new tools and technologies arising all the time, it’s essential to understand the forces driving these changes and to use them to create more effective programs. To garner insights, futurethink designed an in-depth survey and reached out to L&D leaders at some of the most innovative firms across industries. Read the rest of this entry »


Innovation In The Classroom

28 June 10

According to a recent policy brief by the Brookings Institution, improvements to the American educational system are essential to stimulating economic productivity at both the national and individual levels. While many are calling for government-led transformation of the US educational system, others aren’t waiting around for policy change. Instead, enterprising organizations such as the following are playing an active role in re-imagining learning.

1. The Blue School – A few years ago, the founders of the Blue Man Group were unsatisfied with the current private school offerings in NYC and created a new educational experience for their children and the city’s youths. Their school, The Blue School, provides an educational experience where students are not narrowly focused on college applications, but instead work on developing their creative, artistic, and cognitive skills. The children even have a hand in directing the curriculum, which attempts to integrate what children want to learn with what adults want to impart. Read the rest of this entry »

Innovation For the People, By the People

26 May 10

When we think about government these days, “open” and “collaborative” aren’t the first words that come to mind. Bureaucracy is typically a hindrance to innovation—both in the business and the public sectors. Forward-thinking government agencies, however, are seeing the potential of tapping into group intelligence and mass collaboration to better embrace innovation.

In the U.S., President Obama has challenged his cabinet members to ensure that every federal department finds ways to openly discuss innovative solutions with the public over the next 18 months.

In response, the U.S. Department of Education (ED) launched the Open Innovation Portal in February 2010 as a tool to reach out to the community for solutions to educational challenges, such as increased high school dropout rates and low reading scores. The Open Innovation Portal now has more than 4,000 members, each of whom can post innovative ideas and rate others’ ideas based on defined criteria. Organizations and businesses can even post “challenges” for members. For example, IBM is providing $500,000 in grants through the Open Innovation Portal to support educational innovations that integrate IBM technologies. Read the rest of this entry »

University 2.0?

6 February 09

At this week’s TED Conference, a new kind of academic institution was announced. Singluarity University, founded by world-renown futurist Ray Kurzweil and backed by Google and NASA,  “aims to assemble, educate and inspire a cadre of leaders who strive to understand and facilitate the development of exponentially advancing technologies and apply, focus and guide these tools to address humanity’s grand challenges.”

Singularity U will offer three programs to start: an Executive 3-Day Program will provide C-Suite execs with a strategic review of how technological change affects the overall business landscape; an Executive 10-Day Program for mid-level managers and business leaders; and a Graduate Studies Program lasting 9 weeks for graduate students and post-graduate students seeking to learn about various cross-disciplinary technologies. Programs will start in the summer of 2009, and be limited to about 30 students to start, the Singularity does intend to grow its class size over time. Singularity will focus on ten key areas of exploration and study: Read the rest of this entry »

To Dream, Perchance to Do

27 December 08


The New York Times recently published an article and feature on entrepreneurship education, and how it is gaining in popularity as a new generation of college students dreams of doing things bigger and better than generations past. 

Today’s students have grown up hearing more about Bill Gates than F.D.R., and they live in a world where startling innovations are commonplace. The current crop of 18-year-olds, after all, were 8 when Google was founded by two students at Stanford; Mark Zuckerberg founded Facebook in 2004 while he was at Harvard and they were entering high school. Having “grown up digital” (to borrow the title of Don Tapscott’s recent book on the Net Generation), they are impatient to get on with life.

“They’re great collaborators, with friends, online, at work,” Mr. Tapscott wrote. “They thrive on speed. They love to innovate.Read the rest of this entry »

Freeing the Financial Times

5 March 08

futurethink financial timesThis week, the Financial Times announced a program that will allow college students to access all of the publication’s web content for free. How is the FT doing it? Facebook, of course. The news site launched an application within Facebook that provides university users with a PIN, which can then be redeemed for a gratis annual premium subscription. Students will be able to renew their subscriptions annually for the entire length of their college careers.

The whole Facebook spin on the subscription isn’t just a matter of cool-factor – by launching an application in Facebook, FT can verify that users are, in fact, university students. Some might recall that the New York Times offered free Times Select subscriptions to university students a few years ago (before the company killed Times Select and began giving all its content away for free on the Web). The problem with the Times’ system is that anyone with a .edu email address could avail of the discount – alumni and faculty included.

Though it’s likely that this FT/Facebook experiment will help the company attract new readers – it’s probably going to be tough to get people to cough up the ₤99 annual subscription fee once they’re out of school. I guess we’ll have to wait and see. Learn more at Media Week.

Ni Hao, Kai Lan

30 January 08

Ni Hao, Kai Lan

Ni Hao, readers (that means “Hello, readers” in Mandarin). No, I’m not a native Mandarin speaker, but I learned the phrase after stumbling on a new television show scheduled to debut on Nick Jr. next week. The show, Ni Hao, Kai Lan, is a “play along, think-along series that weaves together Chinese language and culture, preschool-relatable stories, and interactivity” with Kai-lan as the animated protagonist.

The show is Dora the Exporer-esque, only instead of weaving in Spanish language, viewers will pick up some basics of Mandarin.  This program will go a step further than Dora, however, in that it will weave in more cultural themes. From the show’s website:

Ni Hao, Kai-lan is the next generation of preschool television programming that introduces the psychology of biculturalism. If Dora and Diego popularized bilingualism, Kai-lan will weave together being bilingual and bicultural. Ni Hao, Kai-lan reinforces the idea that being bicultural and bilingual is being American. The show will familiarize the viewing audience with elements of Chinese and Chinese American cultures to promote multicultural understanding in the next generation and goes beyond featuring “culture” as only ethnic food and festivals. Instead, it celebrates growing up in an intergenerational family, having friends from diverse backgrounds, and “habits of the heart” that are Chinese American.

I’m particularly fond of the line: being bicultural and bilingual is being American.  What an positive message to be sending out to young children, especially considering the growth of multicultural families in the United States. Learn more at Nick Jr., or catch the show’s premier on February 7th.