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Archive for April, 2014

Megatrends in MOOCs: #6 More Social, More Collaborative

By Bryant Nielson, Managing Director On April 30, 2014 NO COMMENTS

Social-learningIf you were asked to name the top three current trends in business in general, my guess is that “social” would make the list. To say that social media has flipped the business world on its head isn’t an understatement—from product development to marketing to customer relations and beyond, tools like Facebook and Twitter have completely changed how companies function. But social media platforms are just technologies that have enabled a more fundamental transformation, and not just in business: today communication, collaboration, and social interaction take center stage in our lives, in our work, and in our learning.

We’ve all heard that most of learning is informal, and much of informal learning is social (coaching/mentoring, talking in the break room, chatting online, etc.). Estimates about how much of workplace learning happens in this way range from 70 up to a whopping 95 percent. A 2010 survey by The CARA Group found that corporate leaders and trainers recognize the importance of informal learning and the role social media plays in it. They found that:

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Megatrends in MOOCS: #5 Lifelong Learning

By Bryant Nielson, Managing Director On April 23, 2014 NO COMMENTS

Lifelong LearningWhen Udacity’s Sebastian Thrun, Coursera’s Daphne Koller and Andrew Ng, and other education innovators decided to start putting courses from top universities online, for free, their idea was to make education accessible to everyone who wanted it, regardless of socioeconomic status, country, and other barriers to getting a traditional college education. What they may not have anticipated was that MOOCs would be such a huge hit with people who already had that traditional education—those already in the workforce who had gotten their degrees five, ten, or even twenty or more years earlier.

But that’s exactly what has happened. MOOCs have spurred a major trend toward lifelong learning. Companies are now experimenting with ways to harness their employees’ desire to learn to help their organizations succeed.

The lifelong learning trend

There have been several studies of who takes MOOCs, mostly based on student surveys. The biggest one to date has been a

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Megatrends in MOOCs: #4 Microlearning Paths

By Bryant Nielson, Managing Director On April 16, 2014 NO COMMENTS

micro-learningIn the previous article, we explored how corporate training is moving away from seat-time and toward competencies. This larger picture here is not just a shift in how learning is measured, but an entire re-visioning of what effective training looks like.

Standard models of training, whether they are instructor-led or computer-based, look like very much like college classes—employees are taken out of their normal work environments to spend four or eight or forty hours “learning” things they may or may not encounter in their day-to-day jobs, and likely won’t remember if they do. But standard models are quickly being swept out the door by training methods that take place not outside of the normal work environment, but right smack in the middle of it. This has resulted in a new interest in microlearning, which is essentially any type of learning done in very short bursts. Digital learning environments, like MOOCs, can provide frameworks for a wide variety of microlearning activities.

What is microlearning and why should we use it

Microlearning has become a bit of a buzzword lately in the training and development world, but it is one that is not well defined. The main reason for this is that microlearning is not one single thing. In the context of training,

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Megatrends in MOOCs: #3 Updating the Competency-Based Training Model

By Bryant Nielson, Managing Director On April 9, 2014 NO COMMENTS

Competency-Based Training Over the past several years, the educational requirements for jobs have been increasing. According to a study by Georgetown University, 63 percent of all jobs will require a bachelor’s degree by the year 2018. However, although students have been scrambling to get their degrees, employers are experiencing an unprecedented gap between the skills they need and the skills their employees have. In a survey conducted last year by Adecco, 92 percent of U.S. senior executives reported a workforce skills gap. The major areas of weakness were soft skills, technical skills, leadership, and computer skills, and these gaps are negatively impacting U.S. businesses, particularly in terms of their ability to obtain investment.

The problem can be traced to inadequacies in traditional education as well as a lack of sufficient workforce training. Nearly 60 percent of survey respondents reported that U.S. colleges and universities are not adequately preparing students for the workforce, and although 89 percent believe corporate apprenticeships or training programs could be a solution, more than 4 in 10 said that cost was a major impediment to developing in-house training programs.

The apparent disconnect between what students are learning in their degree programs and the skills that employers require has sparked interest in competency-based training programs, as well as digital learning environments like MOOCs that can greatly facilitate this training. Businesses need employees with skills, and they need them now.

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Megatrends in MOOCs: #2 Facilitating Learning Organizations

By Bryant Nielson, Managing Director On April 4, 2014 NO COMMENTS

Learning OrganizationThe Internet has had profound impacts on education and training—not just on the practical aspects of how it is done, but on something much more fundamental: it has changed our core conceptions of what it means to teach and to learn.

By far, one of the largest disruptive effects of MOOCs and other digital learning environments has been to move education out of classrooms and into the real world. When you can learn anytime, not just from 6 to 8 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays for example, learning becomes an integrated part of your life. Not something you do at a special time and in a special place, but something you can engage in wherever you are and, most importantly, whenever you need to. This new model of learning is turning out to have huge positive implications for organizations that are willing to embrace it.

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