For almost two years now, massive open online courses (MOOCs) have been remaking the educational and training landscape. Whether you love MOOCs or hate them, it is impossible to deny that they have changed (and are still changing) how we think about education. One of the biggest impacts MOOCs have had is not in the massive online arena at all; it is in more traditional forms of education, namely, instructor-led training (ILT). The game has changed and ILT, whether delivered face-to-face or online, is fundamentally different today from what it was before MOOCs came on the scene. This is particularly true for corporate training and personal and professional development, as these fields have been quick to adopt the new technologies and strategies.
Here are some ways MOOCs are improving ILT for all forms of delivery: (more…)
By Bryant Nielson, Managing Director On December 23, 2013 No Comments
Massive open online courses (MOOCs) have rocked the world of education probably faster than any other innovation in history. In just over a year, MOOCs have gone from being viewed as a panacea for all that ails education to being seen as an imposter: a cheapened form of education. Now the pendulum is swinging back to somewhere in the middle. Several pundits and observers have noted that MOOCs are following the Gartner hype cycle for emerging technologies, and most agree that we are now somewhere between the “trough of disillusionment” and the “slope of enlightenment,” on our way to the “plateau of productivity.”
As we move toward an environment where MOOCs are considered neither cure-alls nor curses, but rather tools that can be used in many different ways to improve education, it is useful to take a few steps back and examine where we’ve been and where we are so that we can make some reasonable predictions about where we’re going. (more…)
By Bryant Nielson, Managing Director On December 16, 2013 No Comments
How much of their essential job skills and knowledge are people in your organization learning from one another? 10%? 20%? Probably closer to 80%. Do you know what they are learning? Does it align with the goals of your training program? Well, that may be difficult to judge, but one thing is certain: they will remember it. Regardless of how much time and energy you put into creating content and designing your training, your employees will learn more from their peers. In a previous set of articles, we looked at the advantages of using a massive open online course (MOOC) to incorporate informal learning into training programs. Here we will focus more specifically on peer learning and how a MOOC can be used to facilitate, structure, and assess it.
Peer learning is a powerful learning tool, but one that is largely unharnessed in any organized way, often because of the belief that it does not allow for very tight control. One method that many companies have embraced is mentorship, and research has shown that employees who have mentors feel more supported by the organization, show stronger organizational commitment, and are more likely to stay. But peer learning takes place in many other ways—people give one another advice, opinions, and ad hoc lessons all of the time, over email, the phone, and even the water cooler. Although these interactions are casual, they nevertheless account for a large amount of organizational learning, and companies can benefit from not only encouraging but also facilitating them. (more…)
By Bryant Nielson, Managing Director On December 9, 2013 No Comments
Corporate culture has become a new buzzword, fueled partly by the increased importance being placed on soft skills. For a long time, corporate culture was generally ignored, or at least not actively shaped and promoted. But today an organization’s culture has a huge impact on its ability to attract and retain top talent as well as employee job satisfaction, productivity, and performance—all of which directly impact the bottom line. An excellent culture, which includes the organization’s values and desired employee behaviors, has been instrumental to the success of companies like Apple, and many businesses are now making hiring and firing decisions based on an applicant’s or employee’s cultural “goodness of fit.”
Every organization has a culture and that culture matters. Lendio CEO Brock Blake wrote in a recent blog post at Forbes.com that corporate culture is the most important factor in “attracting (and keeping) rockstar talent.” Integrating corporate culture into a training program can improve communication, unify the culture across all levels of a company, and encourage and reinforce employee behaviors that are aligned with the organizational goals and expectations. But many organizations do not adequately invest in corporate culture training, which can be a costly, and even fatal, mistake. Corporate culture starts at the top, with the articulated vision and mission of the company and the behaviors of executives, and it is these senior stakeholders who need to take the reins in promoting excellence. As Blake wrote: “It really doesn’t matter if your business is large or small—been around for a while or a startup, it starts with you. If your company has a crappy culture, it’s your fault.” (more…)
By Bryant Nielson, Managing Director On December 6, 2013 No Comments
By Bryant Nielson, Managing Director On December 2, 2013 No Comments
It seems like at least once a week there is a major news headline declaring that our educational system is broken, and looking at the data on how U.S. students compare with students in other countries, it is hard to doubt that this conclusion is true. The training system is broken as well. Results from an ASTD study suggest that as much as 90 percent of new skills learned during training are lost within one year, which means that despite large expenditures on training programs, many companies are not realizing significant returns on their investment (ROIs). What’s worse, many companies do not systematically analyze these ROIs, so they really have no idea what they are getting for their training dollars. Part of the problem is that the traditional models of education and training aren’t brain-friendly, meaning that they are completely removed from how people actually learn. For many years (and even centuries), the commonly held belief was that exposure to information equaled learning. But this simply isn’t true: spending an hour listening to a classroom lecture or attending a four-hour seminar with no follow-up does not translate into meaningful learning, yet this remains the dominant model in many organizations.
There is some good news to be had in all of this: broken systems open the door for innovation, and that is exactly what is happening right now in education and training. Massive open online courses (MOOCs) have swooped onto the scene, threatening commonly held beliefs and business models left, right, and center. I’ve said before that the main influence of MOOCs is pedagogical—they are changing the focus from knowledge to outcomes, from what students know to what they will be able to do. Using MOOC tools, instructors can design courses that do translate into meaningful learning because they are more closely aligned with how people actually learn. (more…)