Over 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:
- They allow training departments to easily unbundle content so that employees have access to the information they need when they need it.
- They help foster peer learning and the development of personal learning networks within, and even between, organizations.
- 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.
By Bryant Nielson, Managing Director On June 18, 2014 NO COMMENTS
We 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,
By Bryant Nielson, Managing Director On June 12, 2014 NO COMMENTS
The 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
By Bryant Nielson, Managing Director On June 5, 2014 NO COMMENTS
New forms of education require new types of credentials. But what does it mean when job applicants put digital badges on their resumes or when an employee earns a verified certificate from a free online course? One of the biggest opportunities for MOOCs and other digital learning environments has been in the development of alternative credentials, which may turn out to be even better than traditional degrees at highlighting one’s knowledge and skills.
Why do we need alternative credentials?
As you are probably well aware, employers in general are becoming increasingly dissatisfied with traditional higher education. This stems from the fact that most business leaders don’t feel that recent graduates are adequately prepared for the workforce: in a recent Gallup survey, only 11% of business leaders strongly agreed that colleges and universities are doing a good job preparing students for work. Only 11%! Most companies want to hire degree holders, and indeed the number of jobs requiring a degree is expected to hit 60% by 2018, but hiring managers are becoming less and less certain about what those degrees actually mean.
To solve this problem, alternative credentials are being developed that are more closely tied to specific knowledge and demonstrable skills.
What alternative credentials are available?
There are basically two types of alternative credentials: non-degree credentials offered by degree-granting institutions (i.e., professional diplomas and certificates) and new credentials that are outside of the traditional higher education system altogether. This article focuses on the latter, as they are the types of credentials that are being developed in conjunction with MOOCs.
By Bryant Nielson, Managing Director On May 28, 2014 NO COMMENTS
In 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.
By Bryant Nielson, Managing Director On May 14, 2014 NO COMMENTS
For 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
By Bryant Nielson, Managing Director On May 7, 2014 NO COMMENTS
Last year, gamification was a crazy buzzword indicating a trend that many predicted would be either the savior or the destroyer of education and training. (Playing games at work? But work isn’t supposed to be fun!) Now, it seems like we hear less about gamification just in general, but that isn’t because the idea of using game elements in non-game situations has gone away. On the contrary, gamification has made it into so many aspects of our daily lives that we hardly notice it anymore—if you’ve saved on groceries using a store loyalty card, booked a hotel online, or worn a Fitbit, you’ve been gamified.
Gamification is also working its way into more and more training and development departments. I’m not just talking
By Bryant Nielson, Managing Director On April 30, 2014 NO COMMENTS
If you were asked to name the top three current trends in business in general, my guess is that “social” would make the list. To say that social media has flipped the business world on its head isn’t an understatement—from product development to marketing to customer relations and beyond, tools like Facebook and Twitter have completely changed how companies function. But social media platforms are just technologies that have enabled a more fundamental transformation, and not just in business: today communication, collaboration, and social interaction take center stage in our lives, in our work, and in our learning.
We’ve all heard that most of learning is informal, and much of informal learning is social (coaching/mentoring, talking in the break room, chatting online, etc.). Estimates about how much of workplace learning happens in this way range from 70 up to a whopping 95 percent. A 2010 survey by The CARA Group found that corporate leaders and trainers recognize the importance of informal learning and the role social media plays in it. They found that:
By Bryant Nielson, Managing Director On April 23, 2014 NO COMMENTS
When 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
By Bryant Nielson, Managing Director On April 16, 2014 NO COMMENTS
In 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,