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How to be a mover and shaker in the corporate online learning sector

If you want to be a ‘mover and shaker’ in the corporate online learning sector – and even if you don’t – there are some things you probably ought to be doing.


(by Bob Little) The dawn of a new year brought the publication of a new, inevitably but thus deliciously subjective, list of the corporate online learning sector’s ‘movers and shakers’. This year, for the first time, someone from South America almost made it onto the ‘World’ list.


The lists attracted the usual flood of interest and, judging by the tweets on the subject, this year’s selection was just as controversial as in the previous four years.


Academics, in particular, take issue with the lists and the criteria on which they’re based. Of course, questioning and prompting debate is part of an academic’s job description but the key criterion for inclusion on a list is that the person is influential in the corporate online learning sector. Academics have their own ways of giving themselves recognition and awards. These lists are really to celebrate those who operate in the often thankless and unrecognised area of corporate online learning. That said, a few academics are on the lists but this is really for their perceived influence specifically on corporate learning.


Those – from whatever branch of the online learning world – who commented on these lists tended to be disappointed that commentators, especially bloggers, rather than ‘pure practitioners’ are featuring prominently in the lists. This merely reflects a fact of life and confirms the growing influence of social media, not just within the corporate online learning sector but in all aspects of community life.


As a rule, the judges for these lists remain anonymous but, this year, one of the judges for the Asia-Pacific list has published some thoughts on the selection process. Among them was: ‘Simply measuring someone’s influence by their number of followers was deemed inadequate yet, without a digital footprint, distribution of your message would be limited.  ..Three determinants of influence... provided a good starting point: 1. Intent to change other people’s behaviour. 2. Leverage social media to expand your sphere of influence. 3. Produce original content.’


In addition, this judge continued, practitioners need to openly share experiences and stories that could guide others towards best practice; conference presentations need to have inspired others to take action in their own contexts; would-be movers and shakers need to be contributing to debates on practice or theory through industry publications, blog posts, comments in discussion forums and so on. Finally, they must support others by sharing or distributing their best practice or findings.


If the corporate online learning sector is to develop, in terms of professionalism, best practice and influence in the wider corporate world, then these aren’t bad criteria for every practitioner to adopt – irrespective of whether they seek, or even want, the formal recognition that being on a movers and shakers list would bring.


Bob Little, Senior Partner - Bob Little Press & PR. For over 20 years, Bob Little has specialised in writing about, and commentating on, corporate learning – especially e-learning – and technology-related subjects. His work has been published in the UK, Continental Europe, the USA and Australia. You can contact Bob via This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it His e-book, ‘Perspectives on Learning Technologies’ (e-book; ASIN: B00A9K1VVS) is available fromThe Endless Bookcase and from Amazon. It contains over 200 pages of observations on issues in learning technologies, principally for learning & development professionals.