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 April 9, 2015 No Comments
Go to Google (or your favorite search engine) and type in “why employees love training.” Take a quick scroll through the results. Now type in “why employees hate training.” Notice the difference? Pages upon pages of articles about why people hate training, but on the love side, nada. Only advice on how to get employees to love your training. The assumption is very clearly that they don’t love it already.
The conundrum here is that employees want training. For a 2013 CareerBuilder survey, 35% of respondents said that increased training and learning opportunities would motivate them to stay with a company. Training helps employees do their jobs better, it helps them fit better into the company, and it provides the knowledge and skills they need for advancement. So why do they hate it? (more…)
By Bryant Nielson, Managing Director On April 2, 2015 No Comments
In my talks with the heads of training departments and other company leaders, I have found that many have a high level of interest in massive open online courses (MOOCs), but that they feel there are still too many unknowns. That’s why several of my recent posts have addressed resistance to MOOCs, such as last week’s article on the not insignificant issue of barriers to organizational change.
Here, I propose a solution for training departments that are interested in seeing what MOOCs can do, but aren’t yet totally convinced, or perhaps haven’t been able to get the necessary buy-in: A/B testing. This article explores what A/B testing is, why it is valuable, and how to apply it to your training programs.
What is A/B testing?
Buffer’s Kevan Lee has a great, simple definition for A/B testing: “an A/B test is a way to measure two versions of something to see which is more successful.” Essentially, it is running an experiment with two groups to see which group has the best results. (more…)
By Bryant Nielson, Managing Director On March 19, 2015 No Comments
This is a simple question, but the answer is complex. I could say, “A MOOC equivalent to five days of instructor-led training (ILT) costs roughly $160,000, or a bit more than $30,000 a day.” But without any context, it’s difficult to determine what that number means. And anyway, what most people want to know isn’t what MOOCs cost in absolute terms, but what they cost compared to ILT. And that’s where things start to get complicated.
The problem isn’t on the MOOC side, where the costs are straightforward, but on the ILT side, where far to many of the true costs are hidden. MOOCs are infinitely scalable–the 5-day course would cost about $160,000, whether it was delivered to 50 people or 500 or 5,000 (slightly more). Not only is this not true of ILT, but the cost of an ILT course itself isn’t the full cost of running the training. In fact, it doesn’t come anywhere close. (more…)
By Bryant Nielson, Managing Director On March 11, 2015 No Comments
In 2010, Bersin by Deloitte published a massive research report analyzing human resources and corporate training practices. The goal was to identify “which practices, processes, structures, and systems drive the greatest business impact.” What did they identify was the most significant element driving business impact, out of the 100+ they studied? Learning culture.
Now keep in mind, that was five years ago — before BYOD, before lifelong learning was being called a trend, before MOOCs and the countless other learning technologies that have fundamentally changed how we view education, not just in the training world but in society as a whole. Even back then, the number one factor was “the strength of the organization’s learning culture.” Today, as the training world is adapting to these changes, having a strong learning culture is even more important for companies’ success.
But the opposite is also true — the lack of a strong learning culture can actively harm companies. This post explores what a learning culture is and several different ways not having one can spell an organization’s demise. (more…)
By Bryant Nielson, Managing Director On March 5, 2015 No Comments
Spending on corporate training is rising rapidly. According to Bersin by Deloitte, corporate training spending increased 10% in 2011, 12% in 2012, and 15% in 2013. The numbers for 2014 aren’t out yet, but they were probably even higher. Wouldn’t you hate to find out that you are wasting your money or your time, or both?
It isn’t much talked about in anything more than a whisper, but corporate training fails quite a lot of the time. It fails to engage; it fails to enhance employees’ knowledge and skills; it fails to provide meaningful learning experiences. There are many, many reasons corporate training fails. Here are some of the most common:
- There are no defined learning objectives, or the learning objectives aren’t aligned with your business goals.
- Employees do not have the opportunity to apply what they learn to real-world problems and situations.
- Training effectiveness is not being measured in a valid way (happy sheets are not a valid measurement of training effectiveness).
- It’s boring!
Whatever the reason your training isn’t effective isn’t important (well, it is, but that is for another article). What is important is that you fix it. If you’ve been dragging your feet about revamping your training, now is the time to get going. With the pace of change in business today, companies that don’t move forward will quickly find themselves far behind. (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 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. (more…)