success-413093_640Moving your corporate training courses to a massive open online course (MOOC) format represents a huge change, especially if you currently offer only instructor-led training (ILT). People at all levels of your company–managers, trainers, trainees–may understandably feel some apprehension about moving to the new format. The more you do at the beginning to address their concerns, the better the chances your first MOOC will be a success.

Here are six steps you can take to prepare your company for a MOOC.

1. Get buy-in from top to bottom

One factor that distinguishes MOOCs from all other forms of training is that their reach can span an entire organization all at the same time.

ILT takes place at the classroom level — interactions around courses are often limited to the employees in the room, or employees and their direct managers. E-learning takes place at the individual level — often no person-to-person interactions take place at all. But the most successful MOOCs take place at the organizational level — individuals throughout your organization participate through taking the course, facilitating the course, commenting on discussion boards, or serving as subject matter experts for certain topics. The best MOOCs have people participating at all of these levels, which means everyone in the organization needs to be committed to this new form of learning.

These articles contain strategies that will help you get buy-in from everyone in your company:

2. Perform a technology assessment

A major benefit of MOOCs is that they allow anytime, anywhere learning. Learners can take the course on their own schedule, rather than losing large chunks of time out of their work day. This saves organizations a considerable amount of money because there is no productivity loss related to employees being away from their desks (for a breakdown of MOOC costs versus ILT, see here).

What enables this anytime, anywhere learning is technology. Learners can participate in the course using a variety of devices — work computer, home computer, tablet computer, or smartphone — and often they use all of these devices over the course of the training.

Technology problems are one of the top causes of frustrations in a MOOC, and the best way to prevent them is to be prepared and head off problems before they happen. Perform a technology assessment to find out what devices your learners will want to use and then make sure your MOOC will run on all of them. This could be as simple as creating a quick survey to ask about the devices of choice. If any of the devices could potentially be incompatible with your course, at least you can communicate this to learners ahead of time to avoid some of the frustration down the road.

3. Develop written guidelines for learner participation

Your organization probably already has policies in place that are relevant to your MOOC, such as for interoffice communication and BYOD (bring your own device). You should also develop guidelines for MOOC training that detail exactly how the MOOC will be conducted and what is expected of the participants. This is part of setting clearly defined expectations, which we previously identified as a basic building block of technology-enabled learning.

4. Run an internal marketing campaign

You’ve got buy-in, but now it’s time to get people excited! Run an internal marketing campaign for your MOOC. This doesn’t have to be elaborate, but there are many ways you can get the word out — email campaigns, company newsletters, internal blogs, videos, etc.

Think about your MOOC not just as another course, but as a product or a service that directly benefits learners by helping them do their job better. With this perspective, market the course by showing learners the features and benefits that are most relevant to them. You could even ask your marketing department for help, such as in creating a website with content for employees to learn more about this new training format. Here are some additional ideas for driving pre-training engagement.

5. Host a pre-training virtual Q&A session

Unless your employees are really up on new educational technologies, the whole idea of a MOOC will be new to them. Even after you’ve announced the course and run an internal marketing campaign, there are are still bound to be plenty of questions about how it will work and what is expected of the participants.

Rather than waiting until the course starts (and potentially losing the first week or so of real learning to “housekeeping”), host a virtual Q&A session in advance of the MOOC. Spend some time introducing the format, the benefits, and the technology that will be used, and then open it up for questions. This approach has several benefits:

  • Your Q&A session serves as part of your marketing campaign.
  • You can introduce learners to one or more of the collaboration tools that will be used in the MOOC.
  • You can demonstrate how interaction in the MOOC will take place.
  • You will show learners that they will receive the support they need to succeed.
  • You can potentially address any negative comments or concerns before they become larger problems.

6. Provide learners with tips and strategies for success

Finally, give learners some tools and strategies that will help them succeed in the MOOC. It may have been a long time since they took a course like this, and perhaps the first time they’ve taken a course online. This article from Learning Solutions Magazine has good tips for MOOC learners, ranging from time management to etiquette.

Getting an organization ready for a MOOC requires careful management and a good dose of effective leadership. These six steps will help you prepare your learners and other stakeholders for what’s to come.

Copyright 2015 Bryant Nielson. All Rights Reserved.

Bryant Nielson – Managing Director of CapitalWave Inc.– Being a big believer in Technology Enabled Learning, Bryant seeks to create awareness, motivate adoption and engage organizations and people in the changing business of education. 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

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Bryant Nielson is heavily involved in the Corporate Training and Leadership and Talent space. He currently is the Managing Director for CapitalWave Inc and the training division, Financial Training Solutions. He brings a diverse corporate experience of organizational development, learning and talent development, and corporate training, that also includes personal coaching of top sales individuals and companies of all sizes. For the prior 4 years, Bryant was the Managing Director and Leadership and Talent Manager for Lengthen Your Stride! LLC. In this position, Nielson was the developer of all of the courses for MortgageMae University (MMU), the Realtor Development Center (RDC), and of Lengthen Your Stride! (LYS). In that position, he developed material, refined over many years of use and active training, and condensed the coursework and training to be high impact, natural learning, and comprehensive. Bryant has over 27 years of Senior Management experience encompasses running his own Training and mortgage firm, in New York City. He strongly believes that the corporate training is not to be static but should 'engage and inspire' students to greater productivity and performance.