When MOOC-mania hit first exploded, a general panic arose in higher education: Would MOOCs make colleges and universities obsolete? As the dust has started to settle and stakeholders have been able to assess the new technology, the general consensus (at least for now) is “No.” MOOCs will not kill higher education, but they will greatly impact how it is delivered. The same can be said for corporate training. According to Brian D. Voss, VP and CIO at the University of Maryland, the MOOC revolution is not just technological, but also pedagogical. Instructors across the board are being forced to rethink the best ways to deliver content and assess learning.
In a previous article, we saw that the acronym MOOC is used to describe many types of courses, some of which very closely resemble traditional courses and others that are horses of a completely different color. Companies also have several options for how to integrate MOOCs into their training programs. For example, will the entire training be delivered via a MOOC, or will the MOOC be used alongside instructor-led training (ILT) as part of a blended learning environment?
By Bryant Nielson, Managing Director On May 23, 2013 NO COMMENTS
Massive open online courses (MOOCs) are currently disrupting higher education and the stage is set for them to be a major force in corporate training as well. Although the mere idea of using MOOCs requires a shift in how organizations think about their training programs, much of the infrastructure already exists: more than 70% of companies have a learning management system (LMS) in place, and as of 2011 77% of corporations were already using online learning in their training programs.
Compared to higher education, where debates about online versus face-to-face content delivery are still quite heated, corporations have been early and fast adopters of elearning and technology-enabled learning tools. The gamble on elearning has largely paid off: studies have shown that elearning takes less time, costs less, and increases retention compared to instructor-led training (ILT). Elearning also has other less measurable benefits; for example, in the 2011 Towards Maturity Benchmark survey, 72% of companies reported that elearning and mobile learning helped them adapt more quickly to change.
But when it comes to MOOCs, corporate training is inexplicably lagging behind. Whereas education systems at all levels are quickly realizing the potential of MOOCs to enhance learning, corporate trainers have not yet embraced the new technology. However, MOOCs have many benefits for companies, and even some of their disadvantages in the education market are less relevant in the corporate sector.
According to Global Industry Analysts, by 2015 more than half of all training dollars will be spent on elearning. Here are several reasons some of this money should be spent on MOOCs.
Access and Scalability
MOOCs offer unprecedented access to training. Employees spread throughout an office building, a region, or even around the world can access training content whenever and wherever, via their computers or mobile devices. Instructors can curate, organize, and revise the material at any time, and trainees and instructors do not need to be in the same room, or even logged in at the same time.
MOOCs are also infinitely scalable. Organizations can provide training to any number of employees, with the only limitation being the capacity of the LMS.
Customization and Adaptive Learning
MOOCs are easily customized. Many MOOCs are built using open educational resources (OER) or a combination of OER and proprietary content. Instructors can remix, revise, reuse, and redistribute the content based on the organization’s changing needs. New research and information can be introduced into a training program and reach all learners in real-time, making the training more relevant and responsive to real-world problems and scenarios.
One major criticism of MOOCs has been that they are a one-size-fits-all solution to a many-sized problem, but this is no longer true. New technologies are available that allow MOOCs to adapt to the needs of the user. Adaptive learning technologies are currently being piloted in a Spanish language MOOC (Instreamia) and a molecular science MOOC (University of Massachusetts Boston). Companies can leverage adaptive learning in their training programs to bring all employees to the same level without some becoming completely frustrated and others totally bored.
Online learning is revolutionary in that it allows instructors to collect data about how their students learn, how long they spend on task, what areas of content are the most engaging, the most challenging, and so on. In the same vein, companies can easily collect data about their training programs and employees. The advantage of MOOCs is that they can provide massive amounts of data, which can help organizations understand how their employees learn and interact with the content so the businesses can improve their training programs. For example, the Learning Analytics Group at Stanford recently analyzed data from three computer science MOOCs and found a relationship between participation in the discussion forums and course completion. This finding suggests that MOOC designers should emphasize social interaction as a way of increasing student engagement. Learning analytics can also help companies predict employee performance and identify potential problems.
One of the big reasons professors want to teach MOOCs is to increase their visibility. According to a survey conducted by the Chronicle of Higher Education, 39% of professors said they taught a MOOC to increase their visibility within their discipline and 34% to increase their visibility with the media and general public. As noted by Robert Sedgewick, a Princeton professor who teaches an algorithms MOOC, “Every single faculty member has the opportunity to extend their reach by one or two or three orders of magnitude.” Companies can take a lesson from academia and use training MOOCs to increase their own visibility, both within their industry and more generally.
Of course, there are also some disadvantages to MOOCs, but these may be less relevant in corporate training than they are in education. The two most notable disadvantages of MOOCs in higher education (and the ones that get the most press) are the high drop-out rate and the difficulty of assessing learning outcomes. For corporate training, these two issues virtually disappear. First, completing the training, whether ILT, traditional elearning, or a MOOC, is part of the job – not completing a MOOC would be equivalent to not showing up for work. Second, in corporate training, learners are not assessed by their ability to take a multiple-choice quiz or write an essay. Standard training metrics, such as increased retention, increased sales, increased efficiency, and improved customer service, are independent of the training platform.
In some sense, MOOCs have all of the advantages for corporate training that they do for education, without the disadvantages. The format provides an effective, cost-efficient, highly flexible, and engaging way for organizations to provide training. The major risk is being beaten to the punch.
Copyright 2013 Bryant Nielson. All Rights Reserved.
Bryant Nielson – Managing Director of CapitalWave Inc.– offers 25+ years of training and talent management for executives, business owners, and top performing sales executives in taking the leap from the ordinary to extraordinary. Bryant is a entrepreneur, trainer, and strategic training adviser for many organizations. Bryant’s business career has been based on his results-oriented style of empowering the individual.
Learn more about Bryant at LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/bryantnielson
By Bryant Nielson, Managing Director On May 20, 2013 NO COMMENTS
Gamification and massive open online courses (MOOCs) are two of the biggest trends in education. The power of these tools in creating accessible, engaging educational programs is already being realized in many educational and training sectors. For corporate trainers, the need to motivate employees to enhance their knowledge and skills can hardly be understated. According to Badgeville, a gamification platform, the dropout rate for organizational L&D programs can reach as high as 75 percent – that’s three-quarters of employees not completing their learning courses. Clearly, this trend needs to be reversed. Gamified corporate training programs can increase user engagement by more than 50 percent, and MOOCs have incredible potential to reduce the costs and increase the benefits associated with training. It is time for these two mammoth forces to come together.
So, what is the best way to go about gamifying a MOOC? Well, the answer is that there is no single answer to this question. Gamification involves using game elements and game design techniques in non-game situations, but there are many different ways to do this. Gamification is merely an additional, albeit very powerful, tool organizations can use to increase motivation and engagement in their training programs. The specific game elements and design techniques that are most effective will depend on the organization’s training goals and resources. Here we will review how some basic game elements can be applied in a MOOC context.
By Bryant Nielson, Managing Director On May 20, 2013 NO COMMENTS
A company’s Learning and Development (L&D) function is only as good as the outcomes that it consistently delivers. Are your employees working to their potential? Are there skill gaps that have not been addressed? Is L&D listening to what employees think they need more of? All these questions, and more, need to be answered to help an organization learn and grow. The success of any company depends on the success of its employees. In order to be motivated and productive, employees must feel that they have achieved professional growth as individuals within the organization. A training strategy involving MOOCs creates an environment that allows people and organizations to learn and grow, not only as individual entities, but also within the sphere of the industry that they belong to.
When you host MOOCs across your organization, you ensure that everybody is trained to perform role-based activities in a similar fashion. MOOCs enable a uniform content delivery platform, thus standardizing processes across geographies, to the extent possible. In case of process deviations in certain locations, participants from other offices can choose to learn about the reasons for these deviations and increase their awareness of the company’s operations. This environment of “one way” of doing things allows a company to measure and monitor its offices’ performances more accurately.
By Bryant Nielson, Managing Director On May 15, 2013 NO COMMENTS
So, your company has decided to “go MOOC.” What now? There are many options to consider when implementing a MOOC into a training program. The first, and most important, decision is what type of MOOC to use. Although the MOOC model popularized by Coursera is considered the standard format (mainly because Coursera is so big), it is not the only option, and it may not be the best option for your organization. MOOCs differ greatly in delivery format, the active engagement of learners, and the types of outcomes they can produce. Which style of MOOC is most effective depends on the training goals of the organization and the learning outcomes the employees are expected to achieve.
UK elearning entrepreneur Donald Clark has categorized MOOCs into eight different types based on their pedagogical approach and the needs of learners. This taxonomy is useful in determining the right type of MOOC for different training needs.
Transfer MOOCs lie at the “most traditional” end of the MOOC spectrum. These are courses designed for classroom delivery that have been put onto a MOOC platform. Most of Coursera’s offerings are transfer MOOCs. These courses deliver content primarily through “talking heads” videos and assigned readings and they assess learning outcomes using online quizzes and tests. This type of MOOC would work best for training for which the main goal is knowledge transfer, such as employee orientation and business etiquette training.
By Bryant Nielson, Managing Director On May 13, 2013 NO COMMENTS
A company’s training strategy usually comprises of four aspects:
- Identifying measurable outcomes
- Evaluating costs against the value addition due to the outcomes
- Developing a training plan based on the above two
- Monitoring the effectiveness of the training plan.
The first aspect above is agnostic to which training methodology you use. It is purely based on your business goals and comprises of targets such as increased productivity, reduced attrition, improved customer service, etc. However, all other aspects in your training strategy are closely linked with the Learning and Development (L&D) methodology that you will use to execute your strategy. It is advisable to monitor every aspect of your methodology so that when the time comes, the evaluation of whether to go the MOOC way or not will become simple for you.
Costs and budgets
The average organization in the U.S. spends approximately $800 per employee annually, but this varies based on the maturity of the organization’s L&D function. This number not only includes training, but also other talent initiatives such as maintaining the knowledge management systems and creating personal development plans. As an organization, you must clearly identify your budget for L&D. The money that you are expending on training within your organization has to be justified by the outcomes that you have identified. You must ask yourself if you are spending more money than the value you will be getting in return.
By Bryant Nielson, Managing Director On May 8, 2013 NO COMMENTS
The extremely fast paced growth of Massive Online Open Courses, or MOOCs , means that many companies are now evaluating how they can benefit from this training methodology. In order to perform this evaluation correctly, one key question must be asked – do you view a MOOC as a product or a service?
MOOC – product or service?
Before digging deeper into this question, it is important to understand the difference between a product and a service. By standard definitions, a product is a tangible object manufactured, developed or assembled, while a service is an intangible benefit or value addition. However, in the world of MOOCs, this line is very blurred. Do MOOCs provide content that is developed for the consumers, thus making it a product? Or does it provide a platform for content, thus making it a service?
MOOCs can be sliced into two distinct segments.
The first segment comprises of:
- Creating course syllabus and structure;
- Developing content by using information collated from various sources such as books, the internet, professors and professionals;
By Bryant Nielson, Managing Director On May 5, 2013 NO COMMENTS
Our workforce today is friendly to new technologies and new innovations. Gone are the days when introducing a new technology was always attempted to be shot down by employees, resulting in companies incurring high costs of change management. Younger employees today are excited to try something new and older ones have gotten used to the fast pace of change in technology in today’s times. Almost everybody uses the internet, social media and instant messaging. Connecting, sharing and collaborating have become the norm. MOOCs fit in perfectly in this environment, making it an extension of people’s natural method of researching and learning.
MOOCs allow companies to provide uniform delivery of content to all its employees at distributed locations. This allows standardization of processes and competencies across all locations using fewer resources. Employees can learn at their own pace as long as they stick to course deadlines and pass course tests. Sharing your training content allows other professionals to learn from your subject matter experts and create a better talent pool for you to choose your next employee from. Using highly trained and experienced trainers and developing rich multimedia content for a MOOC not only engages your trainees, but becomes your intellectual property (IP) that lends to your brand strongly.
By Bryant Nielson, Managing Director On May 3, 2013 NO COMMENTS
What is education? It seems like a simple question, but over the past several months, it has become increasingly more difficult to answer. Is education the transfer of knowledge from expert to learner? Is it the development of competencies? Is it something that happens in a classroom, online, on the job, or just anywhere at all? How can we tell if education is working – do we give students a written test or a competency-based assessment, or do we have them create a digital artifact to share with others? How do we assign credit to these various activities – does credit even matter? These are just some of the questions that are being asked and their answers are challenging the traditional ways of thinking about education and learning.
One of the major assumptions that has been challenged recently is the primacy of content in our educational systems. Content has traditionally been the difference between education at a community college and education at an elite university. At a community college, professors may select the textbooks, but at an elite university the professors are the ones who write the textbooks. The students at top universities get a better education because they learn directly from the people who are actively doing the research and advancing the field. The students at community colleges will always be a step behind, not least because of the time it takes to produce a textbook. In the current climate, when many fields are advancing so rapidly it’s hard to keep up, the access gap between students at elite universities and community colleges is widening.
Or at least it was, until about a year ago.
By Bryant Nielson, Managing Director On May 1, 2013 NO COMMENTS
The academic world is abuzz with the newest form of learning for students – the Massive Open Online Course or MOOC. In just over 1 year, it has become such a force that it already has large groups of supporters and detractors debating on its quality and effectiveness. MOOCs aim to work on an individual’s motivation to self-study and explore topics of her choice. While tremendous number of students and universities have benefitted by MOOCs, in order to understand the possibility and extent of a MOOC’s applications to the corporate world, we must understand its fundamental principles.
Let’s dissect the term for a clearer view:
Massive: This form of training is meant to be received by thousands of people. Course content, cultural sensitivities, geographical deviations to a subject and infrastructure to host the MOOC have to be evaluated accordingly.
Open: MOOCs were originally designed to be free for all. However, hybrid models are now appearing with economically priced paid courses. All MOOCs are open to anybody who wishes to participate in the training.
Online: In order to be massive, you have to go online. MOOCs are broadcasted online so that maximum amount of people can participate and benefit from the training.
Course: These are trainings given by highly qualified trainers with a learning objective for all students. Most MOOCs provide completion certificates to those who pass all tests and quizzes.