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Archive for November, 2013

How to MOOC: Meaningful Assessment Through Real-World Problem Solving

By Bryant Nielson, Managing Director On November 25, 2013 NO COMMENTS

MOOCSo far in this series, we have looked at ways massive open online courses (MOOCs) have led educators and trainers to rethink how content is delivered and the role of social media in the corporate classroom. This article focuses on a topic that has historically been an albatross around the neck of training and development: assessment.

Assessment in corporate training is complicated by a couple of factors. First, there is a widespread misconception that exposure to information equals learning. The result has been an overabundance of objective testing methods that assess information recall but little else. This practice is probably responsible for the fact that employees retain only about 10 to 15 percent of what they learn in training sessions—information is easily forgotten; only when we apply that information does it become knowledge. The second complicating factor is even more troubling: many organizations don’t assess employee learning at all. In an interview with the Wall Street Journal last year, corporate training researcher Eduardo Salas noted that one of the biggest mistakes businesses make in training is failing to evaluate employee learning. If they do, he says, “they usually stop at the first level of evaluation—the reaction data. Companies think that if there is a positive reaction to the training, people will learn. But what we know is that the correlation is very week between reaction to training and actual learning.”

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MOOCs and Microlearning

By Bryant Nielson, Managing Director On November 18, 2013 NO COMMENTS

brain & blue bokeh abstract light background. Vector illustration / eps10Most discussions of massive open online courses (MOOCs) focus primarily on the massive component. These courses are huge in every sense of the word—they have massive enrollments, they generate massive amounts of data, and they have certainly caused massive controversy. It’s true that the technology that underlies MOOCs allows for all aspects of instruction to occur on a much larger scale than was ever possible before, but focusing solely on this element masks what is arguably MOOCs’ most valuable contribution to education: flexibility. MOOCs allow education to occur in highly flexible and adaptable environments, and one consequence of this is that learning is not only getting much bigger, but in some important ways it is also getting significantly smaller. Access to anywhere, anytime learning has liberated instructors and students from the four-hour seminar and the three-day workshop: they can now make the most of even five spare minutes, which has led to a new interest in microlearning.

Microlearning is learning that takes place on a very small scale. Currently, the term microlearning is used to describe a couple of different instructional formats.

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By the Numbers: Learning from MOOCs

By Bryant Nielson, Managing Director On November 11, 2013 NO COMMENTS

Vector Big Data. Broken textBig data is revolutionizing all fields, and smart organizations are taking note. According to a 2011 report by global management firm McKinsey: “The use of big data will become a key basis of competition and growth for individual firms. From the standpoint of competitiveness and the potential capture of value, all companies need to take big data seriously.” Now, in 2013, massive open online courses (MOOCs) are bringing big data to education. With courses enrolling upwards of 100,000 students each, an enormous amount of data is being generated and preliminary reports are starting to come in.

The current available data come from three reports on three MOOC ventures: Duke’s Bioelectricity (Coursera), a group of six MOOCs offered by the University of Edinburgh (Coursera), and MIT’s Circuits and Electronics (edX). Here is a brief look at what the data show so far and what corporate trainers can learn from them.

Who Takes MOOCs?

MOOC students are older than traditional university students: Duke and Edinburgh reported that, respectively, 86 and 72 percent of students were age 44 and under, with one-third of Edinburgh students falling into the 25-to-34 year-old range. These data show that MOOC participants are more representative of the workforce than of the university population, a trend that should be encouraging for corporate trainers because it suggests both that employees are voluntarily engaging in challenging educational pursuits and that the MOOC format appeals to these independent learners.

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How to MOOC: Social Media in the Corporate Classroom, Part 2

By Bryant Nielson, Managing Director On November 4, 2013 NO COMMENTS

Attractive female graduate give thumbs up on internet at classSo you are ready to design your own massive open online course (MOOC) and you want to incorporate social media. How should you go about it? What tools should you use? When the first MOOCs hit the net, the only real option was blogs. Then Coursera, Udacity, and edX popularized discussion boards, similar to what is used in non-MOOC elearning. Since then, social learning tools have exploded onto the market. At a minimum, most MOOCs today use discussion boards, blogs, and microblogs, and many have some kind of dedicated social network.

Training MOOCs are by nature different than academic MOOCs. One difference that affects the use of social media is the potential audience and the type of content. Organizations need to decide whether to make their MOOCs truly open and host them publicly on the Internet or whether to restrict part or all of the courses to authorized users. The deciding factor may be the amount of proprietary or competitive information included in the course content. For example, a business etiquette course may be hosted on the Internet, while a sales training course may be run on a private intranet. Different social media tools are available depending on whether or not the training will be made public.

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