On this blog, we have looked at massive open online courses (MOOCs) from a variety of perspectives. We have explored what MOOCs are and what they can do, the many reasons corporate training departments are ripe for MOOC disruption, and how to use various technology-enabled learning tools to design and run a MOOC.
One issue we have not addressed, and which will be the focus of this next short series, is how to get the support—from executives, managers, and staff—necessary for a MOOC’s success.
Upper-level buy-in is important for all L&D initiatives, but perhaps even more so with MOOCs. Many of the advantages of using this training format, for example the development of personal learning networks, only come when a course is integrated both horizontally and vertically throughout an organization.
By Bryant Nielson, Managing Director On June 18, 2014 NO COMMENTS
We have finally come to the end of a long road. We have looked at how MOOCs can foster learning organizations, encourage lifelong learning, and be used in competency-based training. We have explored how gamification, mobile learning, and microlearning are changing ideas and practices surrounding corporate training. And we have seen how MOOCs are changing the role of the instructor and causing us to rethink the credentialing system.
Finally, in this last article in the “Megatrends in MOOCs” series, we’ll look at one of the most underestimated, but potentially most powerful, aspects of MOOCs—their role in building relationships: between companies and their current and prospective employees, companies and their customers, and even between business partners. It may see strange to say, but one of the largest impacts MOOCs have on training may not have anything to do with actual training at all.
The importance of relationships
Contrary to popular opinion, as we become more dependent on technology,
By Bryant Nielson, Managing Director On August 19, 2013 NO COMMENTS
So you are ready to design your own massive open online course (MOOC) and you want to incorporate social media. How should you go about it? What tools should you use? When the first MOOCs hit the net, the only real option was blogs. Then Coursera, Udacity, and edX popularized discussion boards, similar to what is used in non-MOOC elearning. Since then, social learning tools have exploded onto the market. At a minimum, most MOOCs today use discussion boards, blogs, and microblogs, and many have some kind of dedicated social network.
Training MOOCs are by nature different than academic MOOCs. One difference that affects the use of social media is the potential audience and the type of content. Organizations need to decide whether to make their MOOCs truly open and host them publicly on the Internet or whether to restrict part or all of the courses to authorized users. The deciding factor may be the amount of proprietary or competitive information included in the course content. For example, a business etiquette course may be hosted on the Internet, while a sales training course may be run on a private intranet. Different social media tools are available depending on whether or not the training will be made public
Another difference is the number of social media tools used in a given course. In some MOOCs (particularly connectivist MOOCs), learners are encouraged to connect with each other over as many platforms as possible. In a course with tens of thousands of students, this can lead to an overwhelming amount of information being posted, so most students pick and choose how they will engage with the content and one another. In a training MOOC, this model may or may not be appropriate. To prevent learners from spending all day surfing social media sites, instructors can limit the tools to a couple of platforms or divide learners into small groups for discussion and collaboration.
The following presents a review of the main types of social media and how they can be used in training MOOCs.
By Bryant Nielson, Managing Director On May 5, 2013 NO COMMENTS
Our workforce today is friendly to new technologies and new innovations. Gone are the days when introducing a new technology was always attempted to be shot down by employees, resulting in companies incurring high costs of change management. Younger employees today are excited to try something new and older ones have gotten used to the fast pace of change in technology in today’s times. Almost everybody uses the internet, social media and instant messaging. Connecting, sharing and collaborating have become the norm. MOOCs fit in perfectly in this environment, making it an extension of people’s natural method of researching and learning.
MOOCs allow companies to provide uniform delivery of content to all its employees at distributed locations. This allows standardization of processes and competencies across all locations using fewer resources. Employees can learn at their own pace as long as they stick to course deadlines and pass course tests. Sharing your training content allows other professionals to learn from your subject matter experts and create a better talent pool for you to choose your next employee from. Using highly trained and experienced trainers and developing rich multimedia content for a MOOC not only engages your trainees, but becomes your intellectual property (IP) that lends to your brand strongly.
By Bryant Nielson, Managing Director On April 17, 2013 NO COMMENTS
While there are a number of skeptics out there of training through gamification and simulation; gamified simulations have become an extremely popular and very effective training medium. Some in the simulation market may take offense to a simulation mistakenly called a ‘game’. While a simulation does have game-like aspects it is purely used as a teaching method. Are they real enough? They are so real it hurts. Will one take it serious enough? This is where the term ‘serious games’ come into play. Gamified simulations are even being incorporated into traditional military training war games.
By nature, we have the desire to be entertained. The experience-based learning that games provide enables the ability to change behavior by being immersed within the game design and provide a motivation for learning through such motivation. By generating a method for measurable feedback, the trainee as well as the organization benefit. Game-style engagement can bring a high level of engagement and make learning/training actually fun to do. When a simulation is based around an inspiring story it makes it satisfying to play. Gaming interfaces will continue to make inroads in both corporate and educational training fronts within the next decade.
“It is in our human nature to interact and be entertained with playful applications, particularly when there are engaging design elements employed.” -Gamification in 2012 Report, M2 Research
By Bryant Nielson, Managing Director On March 6, 2013 NO COMMENTS
SYKESVILLE, Md., Mar 01, 2013 (BUSINESS WIRE) — GSE Systems, Inc. (nyse mkt:GVP) has published a new white paper titled “The Case for Simulation-Based Training in the Oil and Gas Industry, Upstream and Downstream”. The document examines the need for efficient and effective workforce development in the oil and gas industry worldwide to combat the acute shortage of skilled workers both upstream and downstream.
“Statistics show that U.S. universities are producing only about 20 percent of the engineering graduates they did 20 years ago,” said Jim Eberle, Chief Executive Officer of GSE Systems. “Thus, the petroleum industry needs to train its recruits better and faster on systems that are more complex than ever before. They also need to make sure that they retain those recruits over the long term. New innovations in simulation-based training will allow industry trainers to accomplish these goals in less time with lower costs.”
By Bryant Nielson, Managing Director On December 6, 2012 NO COMMENTS
This past month has been a busy one. I have found myself in discussions with a number of companies that are seeking a Chief Learning Officer (CLO), or the equivalent. Many of the discussions have originated with the company’s need to move their internal training; up from some ad hoc structure into a more highly systematized educational system.
What has surprised me is the hesitancy of the companies in taking the ‘step’ to a true training program, and hiring the CLO who would be responsible for it. It seems that many of these firms [and their management] look at training as a ‘cost center’ and has minor or irrelevant impact on the profitability of the firm. They could not be more mistaken.
It has been my response to point out the four main attributes to a high-end training program. These attributes are often overlooked and lost on management. The reasons for the short-sightedness may be many, but seem to cluster around:
1) Rapid ramp-up for new employees — getting them up-to speed in dramatically quick fashion. Far to many companies do not recognize or even tracking the value of taking new hires and fail to measure the value in reducing the time it takes to make them proficient and revenue creating. Far to many management teams treat this function as an HR program. Wrong, wrong, wrong. This is a sales and marketing matter. Improving the time it takes to making an employee a revenue generating component is not only measurable but valuable to the bottom line.
By Bryant Nielson, Managing Director On July 5, 2012 NO COMMENTS
Production is at the center of all business. Knowing exactly how much you’re getting from your managerial staff and the employees working under is imperative. Under-performing sectors of the office can shed light on quarterly gains/losses, and it’s here where you might determine how understaffed or overstaffed your company is once the accountant comes calling.
But sometimes it’s not about the size of the employees. Sometimes it could be the structure of the business where, in some cases, it isn’t as uniformed as it should be. Part of that could be from being a startup and not having immediate access to amenities such as a larger office space and/or top-of-the-line technology at their employees’ fingertips. Mostly though, it’s a case of insufficient training for all parties involved…from the CEO on down to supervisors to entry-level employees.
By Bryant Nielson, Managing Director On June 28, 2012 NO COMMENTS
When organizational leaders are asked about their most valuable asset, they are most likely to say that their customers or employees, or both, are the most valuable. But recent studies show that only 54% of executives have a concrete strategy to build one-on-one customer and employee relationships. It’s not easy to go from awareness to execution, but here are four high level tips for leaders who want to create a value strategy.
First, look at yourself and your own interpersonal skills. No matter how good you think your skills are, they can always use some improvement. And before a discussion of how to improve interpersonal skills, remember that the skills you display will be the ones that filter down into the organization – and out to its customers. To begin with, practice relationship building in your own areas. Leaders sometimes have “built-in” relationships with people in the organization because neither has a choice. But your leadership will excel if you find a way to build real relationships with all of those people. A much harder, but highly effective, method is to ask for feedback from colleagues, other leaders, and yes, even direct and indirect reports. And don’t just store the data you obtain – use it to make improvements.
By Bryant Nielson, Managing Director On May 24, 2012 NO COMMENTS
Leadership skills become second nature for many people. But one of the most difficult skills is decision making. There are always numerous factors to consider, impacts to predict, and, simply put, it’s difficult to please everyone from the highest levels. It’s easy for leaders to procrastinate on decision-making or even try to offload the decision to someone else. But an effective decision making strategy is a highly useful leadership tool, so let’s discuss how to make those decisions in a methodical and factual way.
First, let’s discuss how decisions are made. Some leaders may make all decisions alone. This may be based on the individual or the dynamic of the group he or she leads. On the other hand, some leaders do not step into decision-making unless they have their “sounding board” group around them. Before you enter into the decision process, determine how you’ll make your decision. With that said, remember that group decision- making is sometimes highly effective because, let’s face it, none of us has all of the answers.<!–more–>
The first step in decision-making is to clarify the issue at hand. To do this effectively, you must examine the facts surrounding the decision. This sounds simple, but often there is “hype” or emotion surrounding the facts. Your job as a leader and decision maker is to extrapolate the facts from the junk surrounding them. Once you’ve clarified the issue and reduced it to its facts, you must put it in common terms. These terms can be your own terms for ease of understanding, or in terms that are readily understood by the organization. With a clear issue that is easily communicated, you’re ready to move to the next step.
Brainstorm the issue at hand, either alone or with a group. Single person brainstorming tends to be one sided, but at least you can create causes and effects for the decision that needs to be made. On the flip side, a group brainstorming session allows for various points of view and the elaboration of further problems relating to the issue, possible solutions, and possible pros and cons. Once you begin the process of brainstorming, either alone or with a group, write down your thoughts. Put the thought page where you can see it and refer to it as the decision making process is underway. In a group setting, create a dialogue between group members about the decision and be ready to accept other points of view. After a brainstorming session, the possible decisions will probably become clear.
Take the possible decisions and create a list of advantages and disadvantages for each. It sounds simple to create what amounts to a “pros and cons” list, but the method is effective for eliminating possibilities. If a possible decision is heavy on cons and light on pros, it may not be the best decision at the time. If you’re making a decision with a group, be sure that everyone in the group participates on the pros and cons identification – you may achieve clarity where you thought none existed. Even if you finish the pros and cons exercise with a few possible decisions, you’ll still be closer than you were at the beginning.
Next, take all of the “finalists” and map out the consequences. In fact, you may have identified consequences in your pros and cons activity. But analyze the decisions further. Consider using a timeline. For example, if we make decision “A”, what will be the result within one week, one month, one year, or five years? Some decisions will require speculation based on current knowledge, but some decisions may be very clear at this point. You must take an extremely analytical approach at this point in your decision making process. One way to do this is to make conclusions such as, “If condition A exists, then situation B will emerge”, or, “if decision A is made, then the result will be actions B, C, and D.”
The last step of methodical decision-making is to make the final decision. After going through this process, your final decision will probably be very clear. But you must be prepared to explain why you’re making the decision. And you must be able to back it up with facts. The fact-basis of decision-making cannot be underestimated. If there is any emotion in the support for the decision, you may need to consider going back to the drawing board.
Decision-making is difficult, but these five steps will help you obtain clarity, fact, and a clear path to the decision itself.