Though Silicon Valley has vigorously promoted MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses), however, some universities and organizations are still reluctant to consider it appropriate to include it in their learning and training structure. Most of the value addition or benefits that were generated in favor of MOOCs, have been in terms of cost saving. It has been revealed by many experts that a 5 day MOOC, consisting of 500 people, can result in saving of up to 65 percent, as compared to instructor-led training, where 65 percent of this saving is actually the cost of instruction alone[1].

The cost saving up to this extent is significant. However, in spite of such incredible cost saving potential, MOOCs are still not widely seen and many businesses tend not to include it in their training programs. This raises a question asking a reason for it. Are such significant savings not persuasive for the businesses to try MOOCs in their corporate training departments? It surely implies that there must have been a couple of factors hindering them to do so and which make MOOCs savings a scary monster for them.

If we talk in an academic context, then though MOOCs are considered to provide training, yet many instructors and learners fear that MOOCs might be unable to meet quality standards in terms of success in courses, good performance in future courses, rewarding careers and benefits anticipated from a college degree. Kessler reports that the outcomes of the first MOOCs ended up in several universities and colleges not to join MOOC revolution[2]. For example, the University of Southern California examined online courses and found them unacceptable for students at undergraduate level, who lack the learning that happens in a social setting of a residential university. The university offers inline degrees and courses for graduate students meeting the admission requirement and whose online courses give comparable learning growth and performance. Another case is of University of Oklahoma, where online education use is being evolved as a substitute for a classroom learning, however, they are skeptical of using online courses without having support from faculty.

If we talk about in professional or corporate environment context, many businesses are hesitant to include MOOCs due to the fact that these require a big change in employees’ attitude towards training on almost every level of an organization. Despite of the significant cost savings they can experience in their training budget by incorporating MOOCs, there are the barriers that are resulting in lesser inclination towards MOOC implementation.

Resistance to change

As mentioned in my blog post “Fears towards technology based learning”, I have mentioned this factor as the major cause behind fear of using new technology in corporate training and development. The natural human psyche to prefer routine works and traditions to follow, and fear of being unfamiliar with the use of new technology in presence of experienced peers and knowledgeable managers, are the origin of this reluctance in organizations towards MOOC adoption.

Interestingly, the very first idea of MOOC was implemented in higher educational setting, where it faced the opposition of the instructors or faculty because of their fear of being jobless. However, this didn’t happen, proving this fear just a fear, not a potential reality. There are still many businesses like Intel Giant McAfee, Microsoft, Google, Apple etc, that have adopted MOOCs in their corporate training and no lay off has been seen ever because of this step[3].

Can verified certificates mean big reductions in your executive education budget? Millennials have been projected to be almost half of the global workforce by 2020, and they are seeking for new opportunities for training and development credentials. MOOCs give that- at a price of under $100 for every certificate. Based on the partnership between Yahoo and Coursera, for training and credential Yahoo’s software engineers for a price-this could become a “new normal” for the employees carrying out their education[4]. This, therefore, would lead to budget re-allocations about how businesses spend their executive education budgets.

Promoting a change before hand

Many businesses consider prior planning taking into account all stakeholders for incorporating MOOC as a part of training and development, a burden, and a time taking process.

Of course, before implementing MOOCs within the traditional training structure or replacing the old ways with this novel concept, all stakeholders, including partners and employees need to be educated regarding the MOOCS, at all levels. This is because many people are not completely familiar with MOOCs and their fears need to be overcome through effective PR campaign[5].

The cost saving feature of MOOC, can help, here. For example, the EdX allows its partners to produce a MOOC and the delivering the finished product to EdX, or else paying for design and consultancy services of EdX at a rate of $250,000 per course along with $50,000 every time the course is  re-run. MIT and Harvard collaboratively run EdX[6].

By and large, there is a need to make the stakeholders, both from academic and corporate world, realize that cost saving by MOOCs is a fruitful option, or at least bigger than the fears they hold.

[1] http://www.yourtrainingedge.com/why-65-savings-isnt-enough-barriers-to-organizational-change/

[2] http://mfeldstein.com/moocs-the-courage-to-say-no/

[3] http://www.forbes.com/sites/jeannemeister/2013/08/13/how-moocs-will-revolutionize-corporate-learning-development/

[4] https://www.timeshighereducation.co.uk/news/moocs-fluctuating-rates-in-online-investment/2019816.article

[5] http://guides.wsj.com/management/innovation/how-to-change-your-organizations-culture/

[6] http://www.mindingthecampus.org/2013/09/what_do_moocs_cost/

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Bryant Nielson is heavily involved in the Corporate Training and Leadership and Talent space. He currently is the Managing Director for CapitalWave Inc and the training division, Financial Training Solutions. He brings a diverse corporate experience of organizational development, learning and talent development, and corporate training, that also includes personal coaching of top sales individuals and companies of all sizes. For the prior 4 years, Bryant was the Managing Director and Leadership and Talent Manager for Lengthen Your Stride! LLC. In this position, Nielson was the developer of all of the courses for MortgageMae University (MMU), the Realtor Development Center (RDC), and of Lengthen Your Stride! (LYS). In that position, he developed material, refined over many years of use and active training, and condensed the coursework and training to be high impact, natural learning, and comprehensive. Bryant has over 27 years of Senior Management experience encompasses running his own Training and mortgage firm, in New York City. He strongly believes that the corporate training is not to be static but should 'engage and inspire' students to greater productivity and performance.