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.”
By Bryant Nielson, Managing Director On February 26, 2015 NO COMMENTS
For the past month, this blog has focused on common objections to using massive open online courses (MOOCs) and other technology-enabled learning tools in corporate training programs. We’ve explored the arguments that MOOCs aren’t interactive, that they are a one-size-fits-all solution to a many-sided problem, and that people don’t learn very well in them.
This article finishes up the series by addressing the idea that MOOCs are simply too risky on which to bank something as important as corporate training success.
What are the risks of MOOCs?
In addition to the issues explored earlier in this series, here are some perceived risks of using MOOCs in particular and technology-enabled learning in general.
The technology could break down or become obsolete.
Well, yes it could. But so could any other technology your company uses, whether it be an iPad or a cloud-based software application.
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.
By Bryant Nielson, Managing Director On January 14, 2015 NO COMMENTS
Last week, we looked at seven predictions for how technology will affect training and development in 2015. This week, we’ll look more broadly at a handful of corporate training trends—still mostly technology driven—that organizations can no longer afford to ignore.
The idea of business-centric learning came onto many people’s radar last year, after the Brandon Hall Group did a survey showing that about 40% of businesses were developing their learning strategy in alignment with business needs, while the other 60% were focusing on the learners and the content. David Grebow of the Brandon Hall Group offers these characterizations of the three types of learning:
- Just-in-case learning is content-centric. This is the one-size-fits-all model that made up the training landscape for many years, particularly with the widespread implementation of e-learning. As Grebow notes: “We took the instructor completely out of the picture, and ended up with nothing but content.”
- Just-in-time learning is learner-centric. Here the learners’ needs are the focus of course development, and learners can access the information when, where, and how they need it.
- Just-for-me learning is business-centric. Grebow writes: “There is no point in focusing on just-in-case learning when the business case for the learning has not been made. No need to get that content out there just in time if the learner has no time to waste finding an answer to a question with no relationship to the business needs. What makes the most sense strategically, as well as operationally, is to provide the exact information that is just for me, when and where I need it, as long as it supports the business needs of the company.”
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 November 24, 2014 NO COMMENTS
This is a question I hear often, and only recently has research become available providing us with an answer. But before we get there, take a moment to ask yourself two questions: “How much learning really occurs in instructor-led training?” and “How much learning really occurs in elearning courses?” The reason I call your attention to these questions is that for many trainers in many organizations, the honest answer is “I don’t know.”
But you should know.
Whether learners are actually learning is important information for companies that are finding themselves increasingly required to provide more training, more frequently. Too often, however, we focus so squarely on training delivery that we fail to measure, or even notice, if anyone on the receiving end of that delivery is even awake, much less encoding any information.
The problem of forgetting
One of the main challenges for workplace education, what Art Kohn calls “the dirty secret of corporate training” is that learners forget, and they forget fast. Kohn cites research showing that learners forget 50% within an hour, 70% within 24 hours, and as much as 90% within one week.
Perhaps the single biggest cause of this extreme forgetting is the fact that traditional training doesn’t gibe particularly well with how people learn. Bottom Line Performance President Sharon Boller puts it well when she writes: “A significant portion of what organizations label as training fits [a common but ineffective model]: it’s delivered as a single ‘glop,’ and large volumes of it are delivered up at once with nothing repeated. The intent in these instances is efficiency, but the result is the opposite because people don’t remember well in these scenarios.”
By Bryant Nielson, Managing Director On November 17, 2014 NO COMMENTS
If there is one idea I hope I’ve impressed upon you in writing about massive open online courses (MOOCs), it’s that, unlike instructor-led training and traditional elearning, MOOCs are highly flexible online learning environments. The popular media often refers to a MOOC as being just one kind of thing, and that one thing is usually associated with the types of MOOCs found on Coursera. But, this perspective doesn’t provide the full story—over the past year or so, we’ve seen a tremendous amount of experimentation and development of the MOOC, and today the acronym is an umbrella term that is used to refer to a wide variety of large-scale online courses.
In the corporate training world, there are three main distinctions that are meaningful when determining what style of MOOC to implement:
- Scheduled versus self-paced
- Moderated versus non-moderated
- Fully online versus blended (or hybrid)
In this post, we’ll look at each of these distinctions to help trainers decide what type of MOOC best meets the needs of their organization and their learners.
By Bryant Nielson, Managing Director On November 6, 2014 NO COMMENTS
Corporate training used to mean one thing: “Here’s an orientation pamphlet and a couple of manuals. If you have any questions, ask Joe.” Then it meant another: “Your training will take place October 14 through 18, from 9 to 5. Bring a lunch and try not to snore too loudly.” And then another: “Just hit ‘Next’ on this computer presentation until you get to the end, and then take the test.”
I jest, of course, but only slightly.
The point is that when many people, even in L&D departments, think about effective corporate training, they have one specific format in mind, and that format is usually either instructor-led training (ILT) or elearning. The popularity of each type of training has risen and declined according to various factors, including who’s in charge, training budgets, and what’s trendy. Today, however, with innovation and new technologies, there are many different types of training formats in use, including the classics (ILT and elearning) as well as newer developments like complex computer-based simulations and massive open online courses (MOOCs).
With so many options, which one do you choose? The various formats are not mutually exclusive, and ideally you would not have to make this choice for an entire training program en masse. Instead, the training format you use should be the one best suited to the content to be learned, the needs of the audience, and the needs of the organization.
Below are some guidelines for when to use traditional ILT, elearning, and MOOCs.
By Bryant Nielson, Managing Director On October 30, 2014 NO COMMENTS
In the training world, we often refer to instructor-led-training (ILT) as the gold standard. We compare every other form of training to it and seek to replicate it as closely as possible when developing new training methodologies. But it recently occurred to me that the underlying assumption here might not be correct, and that ILT might not be the ultimate high-value training after all.
Digital learning environments like massive open online courses (MOOCs) are starting to challenge the preeminence of ILT. Is it time we had a new gold standard?
Why is instructor-led training considered the best?
ILT became the gold standard not because it’s perfect (we all know that isn’t true), but because it’s better than other traditional methods of training. There is no question that ILT is superior to sending a new hire a booklet to read or putting an employee in a room with a computer to hit “Next-Next-Next” on a PowerPoint deck, but these are not exactly examples of high-quality training.
By Bryant Nielson, Managing Director On October 22, 2014 NO COMMENTS
Massive open online courses (MOOCs) are the education and training story of this decade (at least so far). In barely three years, they have expanded from a single course on artificial intelligence taught by Sebastian Thrun and Peter Norvig in the fall of 2011 to thousands of MOOCs taught by instructors from leading colleges, universities, and companies on various platforms around the world. It’s impressive.
However, while there is growing awareness of the existence of MOOCs, there persists a good deal of confusion about what they actually are and what they can do. This is unsurprising for two reasons:
- MOOCs have changed considerably since they first came out, and they are continuing to evolve as both the pedagogies and the technologies
- Many types of courses fall under the MOOC umbrella. Education insiders have developed an entirely new vocabulary surrounding the courses, but in popular parlance, they are all commonly referred to as MOOCs.
The goal of this article is to clear up some of the confusion by exploring what a MOOC is and, perhaps more importantly, what it isn’t, and clarifying the roles MOOCs can play specifically within the context of corporate training.
A MOOC is a framework, not a platform.
One of the biggest sources of confusion I encounter is the idea that a MOOC is an online learning platform, a learning management system (LMS). This misconception is understandable, since the language we use often equates MOOC providers like Coursera and edX with the courses themselves, but it is a misconception nonetheless.