← Techstars Blog

By Janine Yancey, Founder and CEO, Emtrain

Education and knowledge are still the keys to economic opportunity. Educational technology (ed tech) lets us further turn these keys to control how, where, when, and from whom we’re learning. Now that ed tech has put the power of education at our fingertips, why not use it to tackle the HR and business compliance training we’re required to take every year?

Just a few years ago, we had little control over our learning and development. We relied on, and were at the mercy of the gatekeepers, which included school teachers in K-12, professors in higher ed, managers, and learning professionals in the corporate world.

If your teacher isn’t great, you’re the one to suffer due to his or her lack of knowledge or mastery of a particular topic. Gatekeepers aren’t always able to cater to a variety of learning styles and are rarely able to create a thriving community of learners that can engage and ask questions about a particular topic. This is why putting education in the cloud, crowdsourcing experts, and creating an ongoing learning community is the perfect solution. By eliminating the gatekeepers, you give direct control to your learners to develop at their own pace.

I’ll give you a few good examples:

Let’s say you’re not a math whiz and your 8th grade math teacher isn’t that great? Don’t worry, you can learn math from a former Wall Street analyst and a broad community on Khan Academy.

Don’t have the money to attend Stanford? That’s okay, just take some relevant online Stanford courses from a mooc and list them on your resume or Linkedin profile.

Getting in a rut at work and want to develop or expand your skills? You can take an online course on coding from General Assembly, Treehouse, Lynda, or another ed tech company that focuses on career skills.

It’s time to apply this DIY education to HR and business compliance training. Even though these are the courses that everyone takes every year, the traditional education of these topics isn’t doing the professional world any favors.

Sometimes compliance trainers are knowledgeable and good teachers and sometimes they’re not. Often, these people are in the back office in a support role and may lack credibility with business units. Moreover, people generally view HR and compliance professionals as existing to protect corporate interests first and foremost, which causes them to be perceived as biased and untrustworthy.  So we end up with compliance teachers who often lack credibility and lack trust with their learners.

HR and compliance topics are social issues and it’s time to foster a real dialogue about those issues in a safe environment that doesn’t incite fear of retaliation. It’s time to advance our collective understanding of how these important issues impact people and work teams.

We spend so much of our corporate learning time in compliance. Shouldn’t we take control of that time and learn from top industry experts who can provide the best unbiased workplace practices?

Ed tech has certainly proven it has a place in the modern DIY world as it relates to career skills; I believe it can provide the same tangible value to us all in the HR and compliance space. These are social and community issues that affect all of us.

Michael Wenk