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Management article
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Reference no. U9701B
Authors: Edward Prewitt
Published by: Harvard Business Publishing
Published in: "Harvard Management Update", 1997

Abstract

Much has been written about learning organizations. Here the nature of adult learning is examined, including the fact that spending on corporate education has grown by about 5% a year for the past decade to nearly $60 billion annually--about half of the total spending on higher education in the United States. Though continuous learning has become a core skill and aspiration at leading organizations, it is not clear that the distinct character of adult learning is yet appreciated. For optimal results, organizations should ground new material in the familiar because the older people get, the harder time they have remembering isolated data. The practical applications of learning should be readily apparent, and a range of learning options should be offered, tailored to varying learning styles. Finally, new technologies are ideal for bringing learning to every employee.

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Abstract

Much has been written about learning organizations. Here the nature of adult learning is examined, including the fact that spending on corporate education has grown by about 5% a year for the past decade to nearly $60 billion annually--about half of the total spending on higher education in the United States. Though continuous learning has become a core skill and aspiration at leading organizations, it is not clear that the distinct character of adult learning is yet appreciated. For optimal results, organizations should ground new material in the familiar because the older people get, the harder time they have remembering isolated data. The practical applications of learning should be readily apparent, and a range of learning options should be offered, tailored to varying learning styles. Finally, new technologies are ideal for bringing learning to every employee.

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