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…)
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. (more…)
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). (more…)
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.” (more…)
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. (more…)