Virtual Learning Communities in Business

Myself next to the president of the company and another executive.

Numbers don’t lie.”

“Its all about the bottom line.”

“If you can’t handle it, I’ll find someone who will.”

I have said all of those things many times in my workplace to people above and below me. What am I getting at? Unlike the education world, there is no tenure in business. As businesses expand, they have been forced to implement VLC’s and do so well.

Some of the executives after a meeting.

An example of how I use Google Docs to track my team's goals.

Hello everyone. My name is John Schroeder and I am a work-a-holic. I am at the stage where I don’t care whether people know I have this disease. Yeah, thats right, I’ll talk about work in my homework. But seriously, I will refer to my job often so I should probably describe it to you. I currently work as an Executive Manager for Collegiate Entrepreneurs Inc. I recruit and hire college students for the Branch Manager position where I teach them business skills throughout the school year, develop those skills in the spring, then manage them in running a painting business in the summer.

I have seen the company that I work for double its volume over the past three years. In doing so it had to overcome obstacles of space and time. Skype, Google docs, conference lines and other minor applications such Doodle slipped into our business seamlessly. Nobody questioned it.

I work with college students all across New England. If they are not 100% engaged then their business ventures will fail. It takes constant reflection and analyzation to keep my community strong. I cannnot have an off day. I am constantly changing and trying new ideas. I keep the good ones and throw out the bad.

The top producers pose for a picture in the Bahamas.

Keeping my community strong is a challenging and exciting job and Schwier’s work, Schwier R.A. (2009, June) resonated with my own. Schwier found that catalysts for communities are engagement, interaction and alignment. I have my BM’s practice interviewing each other over Skype. They give each other tips on how to inspire the right type of employees and what a bad applicant looks like. They get used to keeping posture with people they’ve never met in person. We use Google Docs to plan their business and keep up to date with their goals with which we can edit simultaneously across the state. When I want to schedule a group meeting I use Doodle to poll each manager for their available times. In conference lines they are joking with each other and talking trash like true entrepreneurs. When two of my BM’s from UMaine met my BM from Thomas College, there was no long introduction or awkwardness. It was, hi, I’ve talked with you on a video chat five times now – this is nothing new. Tools like these keep my BM’s engaged and working at their peak performance. It gives them the opportunity to be the best person they can be.

Rookie BM's from Maine - 2009


The difference between implementing Schwier’s findings and not with regards to VLC’s can be fulfilling a students potential and letting him slip between the cracks. An executive manager hired 31 rookie BM’s last year across New England. He used technology to develop his managers but when it came time for his BM’s to implement their training he failed to keep them engaged. This executive could not use technology to help his managers overcome obstacles when they arose. He only had 2 managers finish the summer.


Schwier, R.A. (2009, June). Pursuing the elusive metaphor of community in virtual learning environments. Proceedings of ED MEDIA 2009, Association for the Advancement of Computers in Education, Honolulu, Hawaii.

Virtual Tools:

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3 Responses to Virtual Learning Communities in Business

  1. An excellent post on VLE’s and business. Business drives so much in the development of systems and analytics in the field of IT. If you have not already see the work of Seth Godin: .

    When it comes to learning, the business models are not working with ubiquity to say the least: Learning is messy when done well and culture driven in many ways that the business world finds unpredictable.

    I look forward to reading more of your posts!

    • I agree that a great manager or leader in business would not necessarily be able to manage a group of kids to learn. However, I do think that some educators would do well with a background in business. Businesspeople are cultured to always stay ahead of their competition which is the mindset that we are talking about in class.

  2. Pingback: What Happens to Learning When Grades Aren’t an Issue? | Stirring The Pot

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