Within two years, Web-based training is forecasted to account for 80 percent of employee education and development. Also, by 2003, some $40 billion will be invested in cyber-delivery methods, according to an International Data Corp. study, which dwarfs its calculation of the $1 billion spent last year.
Traditionally, where big money goes, big pockets follow. Enter LearnShare, a 13-member consortium of Fortune 500 companies that claims to be the world's largest, privately supported Web-based learning institution.
The LearnShare group offers more than 500,000 online development courses to its 2.5 million employees worldwide via four established content providers: Unix, Palo Alto, Calif.; Thinq, Billerica, Mass.; SkillSoft, Nashua, N.H.; and Quicknowledge, Provo, Utah.
Naturally, the big money companies that founded Learnshare are now selling big money subscriptions to its database. Nonfounding companies have two choices for subscribing to LearnShare: They can become sustaining members for $50,000, which buys them two years of unlimited cyber-training, or they can become permanent members for $354,000, buying a lifetime supply of courses and a seat on LearnShare's board.
Courses range from 30-minute sales technique refreshers to MBAs, with curricula adopted from the likes of Stanford University and the London School of Economics. Beyond set curricula, companies can customize training by posting topic requests to the participating providers. Once a suggested course has been added, all members have access.
The 13 founding companies take turns leading LearnShare via a one- to two-year general manager position at its Toledo, Ohio headquarters. Currently heading LearnShare is Lois Webster, former director of northern Asia for Motorola University. Webster explains that LearnShare is intended as a supplement to companies? standard training options, rather than a replacement. And through these expanded training options, she says, "Noncompeting companies can join together to accelerate their own advantages and learn from each other."
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