Massive open online courses (MOOCs) have been around long enough that most people in the training industry have at least a general understanding of what they are. But there is still some confusion about how they differ from more familiar forms of elearning and online courses.
In particular, a question I’m often asked is: “What’s the difference between a MOOC and a learning management system (LMS)?”
The basic answer is that an LMS is a platform for hosting a course, while a MOOC is the course itself. A MOOC can be run on an LMS, but it doesn’t have to be. In the same vein, an LMS can be used to host a course that is not a MOOC. Misunderstanding often creeps in because the major MOOC platforms — Coursera, edX, and so on — involve both an LMS and a MOOC. For example, if you take a course on Coursera, you are taking a Coursera MOOC that is hosted on the Coursera LMS. (more…)
By Bryant Nielson, Managing Director On May 14, 2015 No Comments
Massive open online courses (MOOCs) recently celebrated their third anniversary. What started as an ambitious experiment is now becoming a standard component of education. Learners around the country and around the world are taking MOOCs. Even many students at traditional brick and mortar institutions are taking MOOCs, sometimes as standalone courses, sometimes as part of a hybrid learning program.
And there are new developments all of the time. Just this month, Coursera and the University of Illinois announced that the school’s entire MBA program would be put online in a MOOC format. Students can take the courses for free; they can sign up for paid course sequences called Specializations, such as “Digital Marketing” and “Improving Business Finances and Operations”; or they can complete the entire curriculum and earn an iMBA from the University of Illinois. This last option costs $20,000, but that is about $80,000 less than what an MBA costs elsewhere. (more…)
By Bryant Nielson, Managing Director On April 23, 2015 No Comments
Last week, we looked at the building blocks of technology-enabled learning, from elements like learning objectives that are common across all training formats to those that are specific to digital formats, like content authoring tools. This blog will explore more than 60 tools and technologies for successfully implementing each of these elements in your technology-enabled training program.
All training courses and programs should have learning objectives. This may seem obvious, but a lack of clearly defined objectives, or sometimes having the wrong objectives altogether, is a main reason why some training fails.
The first step in writing learning objectives for online training is to identify what type of course it is. As Tom Kuhlmann wrote on The Rapid E-Learning Blog, online courses usually fall into one of two categories: information or performance. Kuhlmann likens an information-based online course to a multimedia textbook: its doesn’t teach performance, it supports performance. Therefore, the objective of an information-based course is performance support. Performance-based courses do teach performance, and their goal is to change learner behavior. The category your online course falls into will determine how you present content and assess learning. (more…)
By Bryant Nielson, Managing Director On April 16, 2015 No Comments
So, you’ve decided to start using technology-enabled learning in your corporate training program. Now what?
Well, just like there is not a one-size-fits-all solution to all of today’s training challenges, there also isn’t just a single way to “do” technology-enabled learning. Your particular implementation depends on a variety of factors, including:
- Whether you’re developing the training in-house or purchasing it from a third-party vendor
- Whether you are using a fully online model or a blended learning model
- The comfort of the instructors and learners with the technologies you will use
- The devices learners will use to access the training
- And much more
However, regardless of the exact details of your implementation, all technology-enabled learning courses have a common set of building blocks. Some of these, like learning objectives, are the same for any type of course, online or off. Others, like analytics and reporting, are really only available in digital environments. This post explores each of these building blocks, and in the next we’ll look at specific tools and technologies in each category. (more…)
By Bryant Nielson, Managing Director On February 27, 2015 No Comments
To wrap up our series exploring arguments against massive open online courses (MOOCs) and potential risks associated with the courses, in this final post we’ll turn the tables and look at some risks of NOT adopting MOOCs and other technology-enabled learning initiatives in corporate training programs.
MOOCs and other forms of technology-enabled learning signal a shift in our thinking about training. Today, learning isn’t just something we do in class; it’s something we do all of the time.
Companies that choose not to move their training programs into the 21st century using technology face three main risks:
- Not being able to provide enough training
- Not providing training that is as effective as it could be
- Being perceived as out of touch
The Association for Talent Development defines the term skills gap as “a significant gap between an organization’s skills needs and the current capabilities of its workforce that occurs at the point at which an organization can no longer grow or remain competitive because they don’t have the right skills to drive business results and support the firm’s strategies and goals.” (more…)
By Bryant Nielson, Managing Director On February 18, 2015 No Comments
In the five previous articles, we have addressed common objections to using massive open online courses (MOOCs) in corporate training. Here, we take a step back to tackle a more fundamental objection—the objection to using technology at all.
Here’s a sentiment commonly heard in training departments and conference rooms:
We’ve always done instructor-led training. Our entire training program is based on face-to-face interaction, and I don’t think learning technologies can offer us much of an advantage. Using learning technologies just isn’t right for me or for my company.
“We’ve always done it this way” syndrome is rampant in companies, especially regarding adopting new technology, and it can be difficult to overcome. This objection usually stems from an unwillingness to learn something new. But while adopting a new way of doing things can be painful for some, it must happen for businesses to survive and grow into the future. (more…)
By Bryant Nielson, Managing Director On February 12, 2015 No Comments
This is the fifth in a series of articles that tackle common objections to and arguments against using massive open online courses (MOOCs) for training. Read the previous article: MOOCs Aren’t Interactive, So There’s No Real Learning Taking Place.
I understand the benefits of digital learning environments, but the problem remains that MOOCs are not very well controlled. How will we know what learners are doing? They could say they are taking the course, but really just be watching YouTube. And what about our intellectual property and other proprietary information? We can’t have employees holding Twitter chats about our business.
Retaining control over employees’ training is a very real concern for many organizations. Not only is training time paid time, but training often involves the communication of sensitive business information that companies do not want publicly disseminated. In addition, many courses are mandatory and training departments are often held responsible for tying training efforts to performance metrics, so the idea that learners could engage with their courses according to their own schedule and using their own devices can be a bit scary.
I have two major responses to this objection:
- MOOCs used for corporate training don’t need to take place publicly.
- The lack of tight control found in MOOCs can actually be an advantage for organizations.
Let’s look at both of these in more detail. (more…)
By Bryant Nielson, Managing Director On January 30, 2015 No Comments
This is the third in a series of articles that tackle common objections to and arguments against using massive open online courses (MOOCs) for training. Read the previous article: Face-to-Face learning had FAILED.
All learners are different. They come from different backgrounds and have different levels of prior knowledge. They have different learning styles and preferences, different needs and different questions. For education to be effective and engaging, it needs to be adaptable for the needs of individual learners. MOOCs treat all learners the same, and a one-size-fits-all approach works just as well for education as it does for clothing, which is not well at all.
This is probably my favorite objection to MOOCs, perhaps because it is the one (aside from low completion rates) that has gotten the most attention. The basis of this argument is that “massive” courses can never work because they don’t take into account the needs of individuals. In fact, I (and many others) believe that MOOCs are able to support individual learners even better than traditional instructional formats. (more…)
By Bryant Nielson, Managing Director On January 28, 2015 No Comments
This is the second post in a series of articles that tackle common objections to and arguments against using massive open online courses (MOOCs) for training. Read the previous article: Public Libraries Are Failures (and So Are MOOCs).
I’ve heard all of the benefits of online learning. Learners can access the course materials anytime, from anywhere. They can schedule their courses around their life, rather than their life around their courses. Companies can offer the same amount of training in less time and with considerably less expense.
I know all of that. But when it comes down to it, people just don’t learn as well online. They don’t put in the time or they get distracted by their email. They can’t easily ask questions. And besides, there is just something magical about an instructor standing in front of a class that simply can’t be replicated in or replaced by the online experience. Right?
The myth that people don’t learn as well online–that there is indeed something magical about face-to-face instruction–is as pervasive as the myth that teaching to individual learning styles affects learning outcomes (it doesn’t). The idea that people don’t learn as well online is usually the first argument made against massive open online courses and in defense of instructor-led training (ILT). But it isn’t true.
Let’s explore the research behind this idea. (more…)
By Bryant Nielson, Managing Director On December 31, 2014 No Comments
MOOCs, gamification, social media, engagement, all of these are reaching out and asking for our attention. All of them are being amplified, accelerated and enabled with technology. It is our intent to provide you the reader with a host of perspectives that will entertain, delight and whet your appetite for knowing more about how Technology is Enabling Learning for the corporate environment.
Join us by following our posts for this year. It is our hope that we will provide a thoughtful perspective to you and your associates.
Copyright 2014 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