In the previous post, I examined how much MOOCs cost compared with instructor-led training. What we’ve found is that for a 5-day training course for 500 people, a MOOC can translate into savings of about 65%, and that’s just the price of instruction alone. When you factor in all of the true costs of ILT — such as the cost of employees being away from their desks, not to mention travel — the savings rate can jump to 95% or more.
That’s a significant number. Other than eliminating your training programs entirely, what other action could you take that would reduce your training budget by 95%? Nothing.
However, despite the incredible potential for savings, many companies are still hesitant to adopt MOOCs. So, the question we need to be asking isn’t “How much do MOOCs cost?” Because obviously that isn’t the problem. The real question is “Why is 65%, or even 95%, savings not enough to convince more companies to give MOOCs a try?”
The answer in many firms is that MOOCs require a fundamental change in attitudes toward training — at the executive level, the manager level, the trainer level, and the employee level. And change is hard. (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 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 February 12, 2015 No Comments
This is the fifth in a series of articles that tackle common objections to and arguments against using massive open online courses (MOOCs) for training. Read the previous article: MOOCs Aren’t Interactive, So There’s No Real Learning Taking Place.
I understand the benefits of digital learning environments, but the problem remains that MOOCs are not very well controlled. How will we know what learners are doing? They could say they are taking the course, but really just be watching YouTube. And what about our intellectual property and other proprietary information? We can’t have employees holding Twitter chats about our business.
Retaining control over employees’ training is a very real concern for many organizations. Not only is training time paid time, but training often involves the communication of sensitive business information that companies do not want publicly disseminated. In addition, many courses are mandatory and training departments are often held responsible for tying training efforts to performance metrics, so the idea that learners could engage with their courses according to their own schedule and using their own devices can be a bit scary.
I have two major responses to this objection:
- MOOCs used for corporate training don’t need to take place publicly.
- The lack of tight control found in MOOCs can actually be an advantage for organizations.
Let’s look at both of these in more detail. (more…)
By Bryant Nielson, Managing Director On February 5, 2015 No Comments
This is the fourth in a series of articles that tackle common objections to and arguments against using massive open online courses (MOOCs) for training. Read the previous article: MOOCs Treat All Learners the Same.
MOOCs aren’t interactive. They don’t provide opportunities for active learning or engagement. Learners just sit in front of a computer and watch video lectures (they probably aren’t even paying attention) and take multiple choice tests. There is no learner-learner interaction, no instructor-learner interaction, and only a minimal amount of learner-content interaction. This isn’t meaningful learning—one could hardly call it “learning” at all.
This would be a very convincing argument, if it were true.
In the previous post, we saw that the widely held perception of MOOCs as a one-size-fits-all solution is inaccurate. While some MOOCs do take a “cookie-cutter approach” (which isn’t always a bad thing—think compliance training), this is not a trait inherent to the courses themselves. The same idea applies to active learning and interactivity. (more…)
By Bryant Nielson, Managing Director On January 30, 2015 No Comments
This is the third in a series of articles that tackle common objections to and arguments against using massive open online courses (MOOCs) for training. Read the previous article: Face-to-Face learning had FAILED.
All learners are different. They come from different backgrounds and have different levels of prior knowledge. They have different learning styles and preferences, different needs and different questions. For education to be effective and engaging, it needs to be adaptable for the needs of individual learners. MOOCs treat all learners the same, and a one-size-fits-all approach works just as well for education as it does for clothing, which is not well at all.
This is probably my favorite objection to MOOCs, perhaps because it is the one (aside from low completion rates) that has gotten the most attention. The basis of this argument is that “massive” courses can never work because they don’t take into account the needs of individuals. In fact, I (and many others) believe that MOOCs are able to support individual learners even better than traditional instructional formats. (more…)
By Bryant Nielson, Managing Director On January 28, 2015 No Comments
This is the second post in a series of articles that tackle common objections to and arguments against using massive open online courses (MOOCs) for training. Read the previous article: Public Libraries Are Failures (and So Are MOOCs).
I’ve heard all of the benefits of online learning. Learners can access the course materials anytime, from anywhere. They can schedule their courses around their life, rather than their life around their courses. Companies can offer the same amount of training in less time and with considerably less expense.
I know all of that. But when it comes down to it, people just don’t learn as well online. They don’t put in the time or they get distracted by their email. They can’t easily ask questions. And besides, there is just something magical about an instructor standing in front of a class that simply can’t be replicated in or replaced by the online experience. Right?
The myth that people don’t learn as well online–that there is indeed something magical about face-to-face instruction–is as pervasive as the myth that teaching to individual learning styles affects learning outcomes (it doesn’t). The idea that people don’t learn as well online is usually the first argument made against massive open online courses and in defense of instructor-led training (ILT). But it isn’t true.
Let’s explore the research behind this idea. (more…)