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 15, 2014 NO COMMENTS
MOOCs, mobile, and Millennials—these three ideas often elicit some measure of discomfort in training and development departments, because while these three forces are greatly affecting businesses in general and workplace education in particular, they remain relatively poorly understood. This lack of understanding means that while Millennials are increasingly adopting a mobile mindset and seeing MOOCs as not only a viable method of training, but their preferred one, many companies are still slow about moving in these new directions. The result is a model of corporate training that is not well suited to its target audience.
Let’s look at some data highlighting the disconnect between corporate training and these various factors.
Here is what Millennials think about MOOCs:
- In a Software Advice study earlier this year, almost three-quarters of 18 to 24 year-olds, and nearly as many 25 to 34 year-olds, said they would participate in a company training MOOC. The same study found that more than half of Millennials would be more likely to apply for and stay with a company that used MOOCs for training. (Learn more about the study.)
- A recent study by QuestionPro found not only that respondents believed that MOOCs offer a high quality of education, but that 78% rated them as being a better experience than a traditional classroom. Millennials in particular are so positive about this learning format that almost 80% of 25 to 34 year-olds expect that in the future MOOCs will replace some parts of traditional education entirely.
Now let’s see what employers think about MOOCs:
By Bryant Nielson, Managing Director On October 8, 2014 NO COMMENTS
When does your organization provide training to employees, when it’s a good time for you or when it’s a good time for them? If you are stuck too firmly in the first category, it’s time to start inching over, and massive open online courses (MOOCs) are excellent tools to help you get there.
In 2011, Bob Mosher and Conrad Gottfredson fundamentally changed many firms’ approach to training when they introduced the idea of five moments of learning need. Their model turns training from organization-centric to learner-centric, resulting in training that is more relevant to learners’ needs.
The five moments of learning need are:
- New: When learning something for the first time
- More: When building upon what you’ve already learned
- Apply: When applying what you’ve learned
- Solve: When things go wrong or don’t work as intended
- Change: When learning a new way of doing something, which often requires unlearning and relearning
Traditional formats too often approach all training in the same way, such as through instructor-led training (ILT) or elearning
By Bryant Nielson, Managing Director On October 2, 2014 NO COMMENTS
The idea that massive open online courses (MOOCs) can greatly enhance learner engagement and retention in corporate training settings has been a recurrent theme on this blog. (If your department is still using traditional instructor-led seminars for most of your training, well, you probably know that in some cases, there is no place to go but up.) Obviously, it isn’t just the mere use of technology that leads to increased engagement, but rather the fact that the MOOC format allows you to design training courses to better correspond with how people learn. One of the most significant advantages MOOCs have over ILT and traditional elearning is in how the content is delivered.
Video is the primary means of content delivery in a MOOC. Because video plays such a central role, it has a huge impact on the learners’ experience. In terms of course design and development, video is the area where trainers may have the least experience, and it can also be the most expensive element to put together. For all of these reasons, it’s important to get video right.
Fortunately, we don’t have to guess at how to do that. For a study released last spring, researchers at MIT analyzed about 7 million
By Bryant Nielson, Managing Director On September 24, 2014 NO COMMENTS
I’ve been writing about massive open online courses (MOOCs) fairly steadily for the past year and a half or so, and over that time, MOOCs have changed considerably from what they were when they first appeared on the scene. Largely, these changes have been due to more investment and research into the development of digital learning environments.
Early MOOCs were often nothing more than long video lectures with a few multiple choice questions at the end—if you read much MOOC literature, you will know that these early implementations were roundly criticized for their poor pedagogy and almost complete lack of meaningful learning experiences. And the critics were right. However, that is no longer what MOOCs look like. As more institutions have experimented with them, and more research has been done about how to improve online learning, new pedagogical approaches and technologies have come on the scene. In terms of quality and learning, today’s MOOCs rival and sometimes even eclipse what is found in many instructor-led courses.
This post examines a few of the innovative new technologies that are helping MOOCs evolve into powerful active, collaborative, and immersive learning experiences. (For a review of basic technology-enabled learning tools used in MOOCs, see here and here.)
Enhanced content delivery: LectureScape
Watching a long video lecture isn’t any more engaging than watching a long in-person lecture. There are certainly some advantages to video, for example, learners can pause, rewind, and return to the content as needed, even after the course is over. But MOOCs can do better.
By Bryant Nielson, Managing Director On September 17, 2014 NO COMMENTS
From the outside, corporate training appears to be something of a paradox. On one hand, it is becoming ever more necessary for companies to provide training, especially for recent college graduates: according to a Gallup survey, only 11% of business leaders believe that college graduates are adequately prepared to succeed in the workplace. Corporate training is also a huge factor in company success—a 2000 analysis by Laurie J. Bassie found that investing $1,500 per employee per year leads to 24% higher profit margins and a more than 200% increase in revenue per employee. On the other, research suggests that as much as 90% of what is learned during training is lost in a short period of time.
Given these data, it’s obvious that training is one of the key drivers for companies’ success. But the data also suggest that many organizations aren’t doing it as well as they could be, which means they are likely not achieving anywhere close to the level of success indicated in Bassie’s analysis.
I’ve written before about various ways massive open online courses (MOOCs) can improve upon traditional training, for example by better meeting the needs of today’s corporate learners and by making elearning more interesting, more interactive, and more relevant. This article addresses three common problems found in training and discusses how MOOCs provide solutions to these problems.
By Bryant Nielson, Managing Director On September 10, 2014 NO COMMENTS
So, you have decided to replace, or at least supplement, some of your instructor-led training (ILT) with a massive open online course (MOOC). Great! You are about to join the myriad companies that have seen their training programs blossom through the incorporation of this new form of technology-enabled learning.
Moving from traditional ILT to a MOOC is not as simple as just putting your current learning resources online. In fact, studies have shown that this approach is the exact opposite of what you want to do. The best MOOCs are designed as MOOCs from the ground up, from a digital perspective and taking full advantage of the available technologies. This article outlines an overall approach for making the transition from ILT to a MOOC.
Plan, plan, and then plan some more
Teaching a MOOC is much different from leading an in-person training course, and what all of the differences point to is the need for more advance planning than you’ve probably ever done before. You will be developing the entire course in advance for an audience with whom you may or may not interact on a personal level. This means you won’t be able to see the confused looks on
By Bryant Nielson, Managing Director On September 3, 2014 NO COMMENTS
Your training programs need a reboot. You need to train more learners and get them up to speed faster, and you need to do it on what seems like an ever-tightening budget. Massive open online courses (MOOCs) are potentially an excellent solution to help you meet your training goals. But is your company ready?
Rolling out new training initiatives is always challenging, and it’s important to assess the climate in your organization to ensure it is up to the challenge. Below are several questions to ask yourself to help you decide whether your company is ready for a MOOC.
Do you have a large number of employees who need to learn the same things?
If your organization’s training needs can be satisfied by a series of one-time seminars each delivered to a different small group of people, a MOOC is probably not the best option. But, if you have a large number of geographically diverse learners who need consistent, standardized training, MOOCs can provide huge benefits. According to Bersin’s 2013 Corporate Learning Factbook, companies spend anywhere from $100 to $500 per employee per year teaching core business skills like basic management, office productivity, and Microsoft Office. MOOCs can teach these skills just as effectively and at a significantly reduced cost.