Planning and Managing Distance
Training and Education in the
Zane L. Berge
University of Maryland, Baltimore County
One way to view management's role is that managers must constantly align and realign the strategic plan of the organization so that mission-critical functions match the core capabilities and core competencies of the enterprise.
If we begin to analyze the above statement, we find several concepts that need to be explored: strategic plan, mission-critical functions, core capabilities, and core competencies. Distance education forces managers to think of each of these in new ways. Even how strategic planning is accomplished successfully in the global economy of the 21st century is different from in the past.
Managers and leaders who are charged with distance training and education functions decide on what courses and programs to produce and what media and infrastructure will be used to implement these programs. Their decisions are guided by the organizational mission and by business needs, usually determined by market research or policy. This means aligning projects and programs that involve distance training and education activities with strategic plans. Put simply, managers are using distance training and education to solve business problems through managing and planning. That said, we are only beginning to identify in useful ways what capabilities and competencies are needed in distance training and education.
Our global society is moving into the Knowledge Age, where technology dictates that we will live, work, and learn differently than we did in the Industrial Age. The new age demands more skills, knowledge, learning, and re-learning. What is mission critical to an organization often changes, because what is important in today's society seems ever changing. The transition from an industrial economy to a knowledge-based economy has companies competing to control