FROM THE EDITOR: This "At Issue" contains an essay by Jeffrey Flesher that describes a recent private sector conference that focused on learning, training, and education. Flesher contends that professionals in schools and universities need to become more aware of the activities that are occurring in the private sector because they have direct relevance to the content of professional preparation programs. Responses to this or previous "At Issue" essays are encouraged. Instructions for authors are provided in the "Bits & Pieces" section of each issue of the Journal.
The First Motorola Worldwide Learning, Training, and Education Research Conference
Jeffrey W. Flesher
Southern Illinois University at Carbondale
Motorola has been recognized as a leader in training innovation. The initiatives implemented by the first corporation to win the Malcolm Baldridge award have been benchmarked by companies from around the world interested in continuous improvement (Meister, 1994). Recently, Motorola University held a conference that promoted the worldwide dissemination of internal research related to learning, training, and education. This conference may well represent another groundbreaking innovation that will soon be replicated by other organizations. The scale and importance attached to this effort also demonstrates an enhanced value and responsibility for the training function within business organizations.
In April 1995 the first Motorola Worldwide Learning, Training, and Education Research Conference was held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The theme of the conference was, "On Becoming a Continuous Learning Organization." During the three day event, eight keynote speeches and forty papers were presented (Motorola University Press, 1995). The purpose of the conference was:
To bring together Motorola-based research efforts in order to generate discussion and provoke innovative strategies for the investigation of learning, training, and education 1) policies, 2) practices, 3) technologies, 4) training programs, 5) systems integration, 6) methods, 7) diversity of learners, and 8) learning cultures worldwide. (Motorola University, 1995)
Over 200 individuals from 17 countries--representing every sector and group from Motorola as well as invited customers, suppliers, and partners--attended the conference. Participants included human resource professionals, training professionals, and managers from business, manufacturing, engineering, and operations (Motorola University Press, 1995). Research findings were presented by the full range of Motorola employees, from vice presidents to machine operators (J. Frasier, personal communication, April 11, 1995). Presenters also included researchers from the international academic community who conduct Motorola-based research in partnership with Motorola University or other Motorola units (Motorola University, 1995).
Topics included in the sessions ranged from cognitive enhancement programs to apprenticeships in secondary schools. Individual presentations and panel discussions included research related to organizational learning, teams, thinking improvement, leadership, learning assessment, instructional design, and Motorola's "in school" youth. The presentations focused not only on the content of specific research efforts but also on the strategies and issues related to conducting human resources and training research (Motorola University Press, 1995). Methodologies discussed included a wide sampling of quantitative and qualitative techniques, such as survey research, case studies, ethnography, and experimental designs.
Two indications of the success of the conference are the forthcoming Motorola University Press's publication of a collection of the presentations and the selection of a site for the next conference. The second Motorola Worldwide Learning, Training, and Education Research Conference has been planned for 1997 at the Motorola University facility in Tempe, Arizona (Motorola University Press, 1995).
This conference has implications not only for other companies who may benchmark Motorola's attempt to "leverage human resource and training research activities for the improvement of their organization's human capital" (Motorola University Press, 1995), but also for the institutions and individuals who prepare human resource and training professionals. Training professionals must understand the research process not only as consumers, but also as creators of innovation within their organizations. Professional preparation programs must ensure that sufficient instruction and learning experiences in key research areas are incorporated into human resource and training curricula to enable graduates to contribute effectively to this enhanced role for practitioners. Academic researchers must also continue to seek opportunities to develop partnerships with private sector professionals to enrich their understanding of learning in the workplace and contribute to the strategic business value of human resource and training activities.
Flesher is Assistant Professor, Department of Workforce Education and Development, Southern Illinois University at Carbondale, Navy Campus, Great Lakes, Illinois.
Meister, J. C. (1994). Corporate quality universities: Lessons in building a world-class work force. Burr Ridge, IL: Irwin Professional Publishing.
Motorola University. (1995). The first worldwide learning, training and education research conference. Conference program, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Motorola University Press. (1995). The first worldwide learning, training and education research conference [Brochure]. Schaumburg, IL: Author.
Reference Citation: Flesher, J. W. (1995). The first Motorola worldwide learning, training, and education research conference. Journal of Industrial Teacher Education, 33(1), 83-85.