The difference between corporate and academic training

John Sherman

With the sheer number of online training courses now available, you might think they all start to look the same.

But the differences can be profound - especially in the case of corporate and academic training.


It’s all about intention

The clearest way that online training and eLearning platforms differentiate corporate and academic training is in their intentions.

Speaking generally, corporate training is intended to teach students skills that will improve their performance in their work lives. Corporate training is often requested by businesses who are looking to educate their employees on contemporary issues within their industry.

Academic training has different goals. Academic training is usually sought after by individuals who want to gain knowledge, and often qualifications, in a chosen field. It’s all about learning and increasing knowledge. Sometimes a student intends to use their new knowledge in their career, and sometimes they don’t. Education for education’s sake is as much as a reason as any.

So when choosing corporate or academic training, you need to know the differences between the two. Luckily, that’s what we’re about to do!

Corporate training: what can be expected?

The corporate world doesn’t have time to wait around. Business moves incredibly quickly and every competitor in the market needs to keep up or lose out.

It’s for this reason that corporate training tends to hold the quick fix above the life-long learning model; the corporate environment changes so rapidly that processes and ways of working are constantly be revolutionized. This is what molds the corporate training model, and it’s the reason for corporate eLearning courses to be structured in this particular way. Short and sharp, that’s the ticket!

  • Specialization: Most jobs don’t require workers to take on a wide range of tasks. In fact, with ‘hyper specialization’ of the workforce, jobs are becoming ever more specialized. This is why eLearning platforms offer such specific courses – so that the requirements of specialized labor are met!

You’re unlikely to find much fluff in online corporate courses because it’s a waste of both time and effort. It’s not what they’re for!

The goal behind corporate training can be thought of as teaching the specialized, essential information so that an employee can perform their job well. That’s the reason they’re taking the course, after all.

  • Rapidly changing and dynamic: Due to the incredible pace of the business world, there is a constant flow of training courses to educate employees on the changes going on around them.

For example, compliance frameworks governing the way an organization stores data changes frequently as potential online threats come and go, or technology evolves. It’s really important, therefore, to make sure that compliance is adhered to. And to do this, employees have to be educated on the changing sands in their industry.

eLearning courses are able to react quickly to changes within an industry, making them the ideal tool for corporate training.

  • Practical: Perhaps the most important difference between academic and corporate training is the corporate training’s focus on the practical use of skills. For a business, there is little point learning a skill if it isn’t then put to use. What a student learning in a corporate training course is to improve their work performance.

Academic training: what’s to know?

  • Holistic: Academic training is more concerned with teaching a balanced, developed, and deep understanding of a topic. Unlike corporate training, there is less focus on the speed of communicating an idea, and an increased desire for full understanding.
  • Slow and steady: Unlike corporate training which is constantly having to keep up-to-date with the breakneck speed of business, academic training tends to focus on traditional theory or thought as the basis of further development; for academic training there is worth and need to understand the evolution of a major thought or theory in a particular subject.
  • Theory rather than practice: And it’s for this reason that there is a greater focus on theory rather than action in academic training courses.

So there are the key differences between corporate and academic training. They’re important to know so that you can choose a model that is suited to the learning outcomes and intentions that you seek.

Before choosing either model, ask yourself some questions about what you want from the course.

Am I taking this course to learn a specific skill that I will put to use in my work?

Do I want an understanding of a broad and complex issue or a specialized topic?

The nob of the matter is simply this; corporate training focuses on performance while academic training focuses on learning. Neither is better nor worse, but both have different uses.

Understand which model is better suited to your need and then prepare to enjoy your experience!

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