This is the fourth 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 Treat All Learners the Same.
MOOCs aren’t interactive. They don’t provide opportunities for active learning or engagement. Learners just sit in front of a computer and watch video lectures (they probably aren’t even paying attention) and take multiple choice tests. There is no learner-learner interaction, no instructor-learner interaction, and only a minimal amount of learner-content interaction. This isn’t meaningful learning—one could hardly call it “learning” at all.
This would be a very convincing argument, if it were true.
In the previous post, we saw that the widely held perception of MOOCs as a one-size-fits-all solution is inaccurate. While some MOOCs do take a “cookie-cutter approach” (which isn’t always a bad thing—think compliance training), this is not a trait inherent to the courses themselves. The same idea applies to active learning and interactivity.
By Bryant Nielson, Managing Director On January 7, 2015 NO COMMENTS
It’s the beginning of the year—the time to make predictions about what the coming year will bring so that we can congratulate ourselves when they come true and make up excuses when they don’t. So, what will 2015 look like for corporate training and technology-enabled learning?
This is going to be a big year for technology-enabled learning. Many trends and movements have been bubbling just under the surface, and I expect that this will be the year they start making some serious waves. Here are my seven predictions for workforce education and learning technologies in 2015.
More companies will experiment with MOOCs.
Over the past year, companies have started dabbling with MOOCs, but the courses have yet to take off big time. There are a variety of reasons for this, including a lack of awareness, uncertainty about how to do it, and concerns regarding security, control over the information employees are learning and sharing, and so on (I’ll be addressing these and other objections to MOOCs in a series starting soon).
By Bryant Nielson, Managing Director On December 15, 2014 NO COMMENTS
Massive open online courses (MOOCs) and gamification hit the corporate training world at roughly the same time. MOOCs started to make their way into the mainstream in 2012, and while the idea of gamification has been around for more than a century, and the value of games in learning has been recognized for several decades, it is only recent advances in technology that have made both MOOCs and gamification viable training options.
Gamification has been a growing trend in organizations over the past few years. Starting mainly as a way to motivate sales teams through competition, the idea of using game mechanics has moved into many areas of the business environment, including training. Big-named companies, such as Deloitte and IBM have successfully implemented gamification in their L&D programs, and more organizations will be giving it a try over the next few years. According to this elearning infographic:
- By 2015, half of organizations’ innovation processes will use gamification for some aspects.
- Also by 2015, gamification will be the primary method by which 40% of Global 1000 organizations seek to transform their business operations.
By Bryant Nielson, Managing Director On May 7, 2014 NO COMMENTS
Last year, gamification was a crazy buzzword indicating a trend that many predicted would be either the savior or the destroyer of education and training. (Playing games at work? But work isn’t supposed to be fun!) Now, it seems like we hear less about gamification just in general, but that isn’t because the idea of using game elements in non-game situations has gone away. On the contrary, gamification has made it into so many aspects of our daily lives that we hardly notice it anymore—if you’ve saved on groceries using a store loyalty card, booked a hotel online, or worn a Fitbit, you’ve been gamified.
Gamification is also working its way into more and more training and development departments. I’m not just talking
By Bryant Nielson, Managing Director On March 27, 2014 NO COMMENTS
Massive open online courses (MOOCs) like the ones offered by Coursera, edX, and Udacity have been around for about two years now, and over the past year or so, I have written about how they have evolved and the impact they have had on corporate training. Now, after several ups and downs, MOOCs are starting to find their place, and it turns out that place is much larger than could have been anticipated: MOOCs aren’t just disrupting how training is delivered; they are changing how companies interact with their employees and others on a much grander scale.
As organizations continue to expand their use of new digital learning environments, we can identify some MOOC megatrends that are starting to shape up. I’ve touched on many of these trends before, but over the course of the next several weeks, we’ll look at each of these trends in turn, defining them, describing where we are in the process, and identifying challenges in their adoption. The goal for this series is to provide a complete picture of the place of MOOCs in training departments and in organizations as a whole.
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.
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.
By Bryant Nielson, Managing Director On September 30, 2013 NO COMMENTS
Gamified simulations can change the way organizations train up; they have the ability to make normal, day-to-day business operational teaching more compelling and interactive. Gamification is just now beginning to be taken seriously within the simulation industry making organizations sit up and take notice. By utilizing game craft techniques we are able to make simulations that encompass serious concepts and bring them to life and mirror the real-world, just without the potential hazards for a wrong decision made and thus making every day ‘average experiences’ much more compelling. The incorporation of game dynamics through simulation is an intriguing concept and one that I am sure is here to stay.
Despite only being recently introduced, gamification is one of the largest movements of our time. When you stop to think about it you’ll realize that customer loyalty programs, such as frequent flyer miles, credit card reward programs and grocery club cards all encompass what gamification is designed to do; and that is rewarding interaction with tangible benefits. This idea is also able to transfer over into other aspects of life, such as a job promotion, being awarded a diploma, receiving a year-end financial bonus, and the list goes on. Although all of these concepts offer a reward in the end, they tend to lack certain elements that create an engaging experience for the user, this is where gamified simulations come into play (pun intended).
By Bryant Nielson, Managing Director On July 26, 2013 NO COMMENTS
Can simulations tell stories? The affirmative answer of yes suggests that gamified simulations built around narrative may be considered an anomaly by some seeing as how the term of gamification was only recently introduced. But for us it’s just common practice, so let me delve a little further into what I mean by narrative and how it has a profound affect on a gamified simulation.
Let’s first begin by further explaining narrative. By definition narrative is: A narrated account; a story. Alternatively, it’s the art, technique, or process of narrating. By further characterization, simulations are narratives; they have a story behind them. You can take a seemingly boring topic and actually breathe life into it to make it much more engaging for the trainee to learn. By utilizing a gamified simulation with narrative it aids in creating a story and context for a specific activity and makes learning more palatable.
“Narrative theory states that humans are primarily storytellers, thus people respond favorably to messages presented in a narrative framework” -Morgan, Cole, Struttman, & Piercy, 2002
By Bryant Nielson, Managing Director On July 24, 2013 NO COMMENTS
Since the introduction of Gamification a few years back some have begun to define the difference between Gamification Mechanics versus Gamification Dynamics. While there is a thin line between the two and it can be blurry at times, let me attempt to define each in the following post.
Gamification Mechanics: Also understood as verbs of gamification, in essence these are the elements that move the action (aka simulation) forward. Defined as the basic actions, control mechanisms and processes that are used to “gamify” an activity. These actions in which players take (“agency”) and the rules that limit those actions to create pressure (also known as “urgency”) are what make up game mechanics. The problem with the gamification mechanics definition is that is often a vague term to use “mechanics”. In essence it kind of becomes a catchall for operations and their effects. In effect anything that may seem related to how a game operates may be labeled as a “mechanic”. Granted, the essential idea behind gamification is to “just add in game mechanics.”
According to Gamification.org (http://gamification.org/wiki/Game_Mechanics) there are 24 types of gamification mechanics currently recognized, while I won’t define each one individually I will provide a list below of the 24 and most are pretty self explanatory without further definition needed.