Have you seen how people use public libraries these days?
They pick up books, skim through them, and then put them back on the shelf without reading them. Sometimes they even check out books and don’t read them. Sometimes they just photocopy a few pages or a chapter, or look up a reference. Sometimes they don’t use the books at all, but instead participate in a discussion group or even watch a film! In fact, a 2012 study found that only a bare majority of people who go to a public library actually borrow printed books.
Since people who go to libraries aren’t all borrowing books—and even when they are borrowing books they probably aren’t all reading them—public libraries are failures.
By now, I expect you are rolling your eyes. And for very good reason—the assertion that public libraries are failures is ridiculous. But these are the very same arguments often used to suggest that MOOCs are failures. The fact that only between 5 and 10% of people who sign up for MOOCs actually complete them has led some to conclude that MOOCs are not engaging, that people don’t like them, and that they are not effective forms of instruction. However, the research that has been done on MOOCs shows that this argument is not valid, because completion rates are not useful measures of what really happens in a MOOC.
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 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 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 July 31, 2014 NO COMMENTS
How does your company currently get buy-in from employees for your training programs? I’m willing to bet that for a reasonably large percentage of organizations, that question isn’t even asked on a regular basis. Training is too often imposed on employees in a top-down fashion—e.g., “The new course on [fill in the blank] runs Monday through Wednesday from 9 to 5. See you then.” If you ever wonder why employees seem less than thrilled to attend training sessions, and then proceed to forget most of what they learn, a lack of buy-in is probably the culprit.
MOOCs are different. They are flexible training formats in which the learners have full independence and control of their own learning experiences. Because they are bottom-up approaches, gaining employee buy-in is absolutely crucial to their success.
So, how do you do it?
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 March 17, 2014 NO COMMENTS
If you ask anyone in any company why their organization has a training and development program, you will probably be met with a look of confusion—obviously the purpose of T&D programs is to provide employees with the learning experiences necessary to perform their jobs at the highest level possible. But for MOOCs, it’s a different story. Certainly, they can be used for traditional knowledge transfer and skill building. But these are not your traditional training courses, and as massively open digital learning environments, they are proving to have applications way beyond employee training and development.
In his SlideShare presentation “Putting MOOCs to Work,” Josh Bersin identifies seven ways companies are using MOOCs, starting with identifying and training new hires all the way through to customer relations and facilitating innovation. In this article, I’ll explore the first two uses: building talent pipelines and on-boarding new employees.
By Bryant Nielson, Managing Director On November 25, 2013 NO COMMENTS
So far in this series, we have looked at ways massive open online courses (MOOCs) have led educators and trainers to rethink how content is delivered and the role of social media in the corporate classroom. This article focuses on a topic that has historically been an albatross around the neck of training and development: assessment.
Assessment in corporate training is complicated by a couple of factors. First, there is a widespread misconception that exposure to information equals learning. The result has been an overabundance of objective testing methods that assess information recall but little else. This practice is probably responsible for the fact that employees retain only about 10 to 15 percent of what they learn in training sessions—information is easily forgotten; only when we apply that information does it become knowledge. The second complicating factor is even more troubling: many organizations don’t assess employee learning at all. In an interview with the Wall Street Journal last year, corporate training researcher Eduardo Salas noted that one of the biggest mistakes businesses make in training is failing to evaluate employee learning. If they do, he says, “they usually stop at the first level of evaluation—the reaction data. Companies think that if there is a positive reaction to the training, people will learn. But what we know is that the correlation is very week between reaction to training and actual learning.”
By Bryant Nielson, Managing Director On September 2, 2013 NO COMMENTS
I have said before that the real innovation of massive open online courses (MOOCs) is not technological (after all, we already had online videos, forums, and blogs), but pedagogical – the idea that content is king has been steamrolled by the Internet and the spread of open educational resources. MOOCs have challenged the dominant thinking about how people learn. And guess what? Sitting in a room and listening to someone talk for an hour or three isn’t it – mere exposure to content does not equal learning. People learn by engaging with content, participating in hands-on activities, and teaching and learning from their peers. So why does so much of corporate training still involve an instructor flipping through a seemingly endless PowerPoint slide deck?
The MOOC model involves students watching short videos for content and then performing active learning activities, such as participating in discussions, working through simulations, collaborating on projects, and writing and peer-reviewing essays. The content delivery portion of a MOOC is typically short, with each video lasting no more than 10 to 12 minutes, while the real emphasis is on applying the newly acquired knowledge and skills and connecting and collaborating with others. Content, which thanks to Google is always at our fingertips, takes a backseat to building personal knowledge networks and solving real-world problems.
By Bryant Nielson, Managing Director On August 19, 2013 NO COMMENTS
So you are ready to design your own massive open online course (MOOC) and you want to incorporate social media. How should you go about it? What tools should you use? When the first MOOCs hit the net, the only real option was blogs. Then Coursera, Udacity, and edX popularized discussion boards, similar to what is used in non-MOOC elearning. Since then, social learning tools have exploded onto the market. At a minimum, most MOOCs today use discussion boards, blogs, and microblogs, and many have some kind of dedicated social network.
Training MOOCs are by nature different than academic MOOCs. One difference that affects the use of social media is the potential audience and the type of content. Organizations need to decide whether to make their MOOCs truly open and host them publicly on the Internet or whether to restrict part or all of the courses to authorized users. The deciding factor may be the amount of proprietary or competitive information included in the course content. For example, a business etiquette course may be hosted on the Internet, while a sales training course may be run on a private intranet. Different social media tools are available depending on whether or not the training will be made public
Another difference is the number of social media tools used in a given course. In some MOOCs (particularly connectivist MOOCs), learners are encouraged to connect with each other over as many platforms as possible. In a course with tens of thousands of students, this can lead to an overwhelming amount of information being posted, so most students pick and choose how they will engage with the content and one another. In a training MOOC, this model may or may not be appropriate. To prevent learners from spending all day surfing social media sites, instructors can limit the tools to a couple of platforms or divide learners into small groups for discussion and collaboration.
The following presents a review of the main types of social media and how they can be used in training MOOCs.