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Archive for the ‘Learning & Development’ Category

Corporate MOOCs: Getting Buy-In from Executives and Managers

By Bryant Nielson, Managing Director On July 24, 2014 NO COMMENTS

EnterpriseOn 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.

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On the MOOC Horizon: Tin Can API

By Bryant Nielson, Managing Director On June 26, 2014 NO COMMENTS

Tin CanOver the course of the past year on this blog, I’ve described several ways MOOCs are already changing training and development. These digital learning environments and the technology-enabled learning tools that power them are making training more engaging, more relevant, and as a result, more effective. In particular, MOOCs have three main advantages over traditional instructor-led training:

  1. They allow training departments to easily unbundle content so that employees have access to the information they need when they need it.
  2.  They help foster peer learning and the development of personal learning networks within, and even between, organizations.
  3. They allow organizations to track and mine training data on a large scale to improve training results, discover relationships between variables, customize training programs, and predict training effectiveness.

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Megatrends in MOOCs: #13 MOOCs as Relationship Builders

By Bryant Nielson, Managing Director On June 18, 2014 NO COMMENTS

Leader-buildersWe 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,

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Megatrends in MOOCs: #12 Training for Millennials

By Bryant Nielson, Managing Director On June 12, 2014 NO COMMENTS

MillennialsThe Millennial generation has posed one of the greatest challenges to the business world over the past few years. Millennials have different ideas from the generations that came before them about what jobs should be (i.e., places to learn and then move on), work-life balance (they believe balance is important), and the place of technology (they grew up with technology and much of their educational and social lives is already spent online). Millennials are changing how business is done, and in particular how workforce education is done. They are also the perfect audience for training MOOCs.

What do Millennials want?

What are Millennials? Digital natives who now make up more than one-third of the workforce. Tech-savvy self-directed learners. Young people who have spearheaded the rise of the share economy. Recent college grads who both expect and require extensive formal training to be successful in their jobs.

Their attitudes toward work and training are fundamentally different from those who came before, and it is essential that organizations both recognize and embrace these differences. As the Allen Communications website puts it:

“As learning professionals, we know we have to keep up with our audiences or be left behind. We also hear that Millennials

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Megatrends in MOOCs: #10 The Changing Role of the Instructor

By Bryant Nielson, Managing Director On May 28, 2014 NO COMMENTS

corporate-instructorIn this series so far, we’ve explored how massive open online courses (MOOCs) are changing the nature of learning. We’ve looked at how they can help foster learning organizations, promote lifelong learning, facilitate collaboration, and even provide just-in-time performance support. But one of the biggest transformations that has been brought about by MOOCs, online learning, and the Internet in general is a shift in what means to teach a class. The role of the instructor is changing, and while the initial reaction has been one of shock and fear (educators are afraid of losing their jobs), the truth is that this shift is actually very good news—for companies, for employees, and for trainers.

Here’s why: If your company is anything like almost every other organization, you have probably noticed a skills gap between what job applicants and employees can do and the skills you need them to have. Likely, you are observing the biggest skills gaps in the areas of computer and mathematical occupations, architecture and engineering occupations, and management occupations. And these gaps are costing you money—a recent CareerBuilder survey showed that “on average, a company loses more than $14,000 for every job that stays vacant for three months or longer” and “that one in six companies loses $25,000 or more.” The answer to bridging these gaps is training, but while 80% of college graduates expect that they will be provided with formal training on their first job, only 48% actually receive that training. Clearly more training is needed…and fast. The new role of the instructor in MOOCs means that companies can train more people, more quickly and more effectively, than ever before.

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Megatrends in MOOCs: #9 Flipping the MOOC

By Bryant Nielson, Managing Director On May 21, 2014 NO COMMENTS

flipped_classroomAs digital learning environments, MOOCs are incredibly flexible—they can be used for fully online courses, in hybrid courses, as supplementary materials, and more. One of the offshoots of the growth of MOOCs has been an interest in “flipped classes,” which is commonly conceived as a reversal of in-class time and out-of-class time. For example, the typical formula for flipping a class is to assign video lectures as homework and use in-class time for collaborative activities including role play and problem-solving. Here, we’ll look briefly at how to use MOOCs to flip a corporate classroom in this way as well as explore a broader perspective on what it means to flip an online course.

Flipping class time

When people talk about “flipping” a classroom, what they are usually talking about is a way of integrating technology into

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Megatrends in MOOCs: #8 Mobile Learning

By Bryant Nielson, Managing Director On May 14, 2014 NO COMMENTS

mobile learningFor the past few years, mobile learning has been the “next big thing,” but no more. As Rob Caul wrote recently for TrainingZone, “With smartphones and tablets more affordable and accessible than ever, mobile learning is fast establishing itself as a mainstream learning technology.” Mobile learning represents a new phase in modern workforce education because it represents an ideal meeting point between providing employee training and achieving real business value. MOOCs, which can provide a technological and learning framework for this intersection, are just starting to go mobile. But with the general shift toward mobile devices and more organizations moving their training programs online, mobile will be the next big phase in MOOC development.

Why mobile learning?

The biggest reason for companies to switch to mobile learning for at least part of their training programs is because

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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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