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.
By Bryant Nielson, Managing Director On August 8, 2013 NO COMMENTS
The proliferation of massive open online courses (MOOCs) has prompted many discussions about what education is, what it means, and how best to deliver it in the current digital environment. While the debate continues on whether MOOCs will eventually lead to degrees, the knowledge gained from the first year and a half of these huge online experiments is changing the perceptions and practices of education both online and in the classroom. These lessons are especially valuable for corporate training and continuing professional development programs, which companies are rapidly moving online to lower costs and increase efficiency. Over a series of articles, we will explore what MOOCs have taught us about the best ways to design, deliver, assess, and recognize learning online. This first article highlights MOOC methods for delivering training content in a way that leads to real engagement and mastery, and ultimately to better job performance.
MOOCs have focused the spotlight on how teachers teach and students learn, and many of the assumptions that form the foundations of education and training are being challenged. The first idol to fall has been the lecture. Lectures have been staples practically since the beginning of training programs. The problem is that unless the goal is to put people to sleep, lectures just don’t work. Studies going back to the 1970s have shown that people simply can’t pay attention and retain
By Bryant Nielson, Managing Director On June 10, 2013 NO COMMENTS
Web 2.0 and the rapid rise of Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and other communications platforms have made one thing abundantly clear: Everything is social. And researchers, educators, and trainers have begun to realize that learning is no exception. As the workforce grows to include more Millennials – digital natives who spend nearly four hours per day on social networking sites – the social impact on training cannot be overstated. According to a 2011 ASTD report, social media enables learning by providing platforms for people to exchange information, facilitating communication, personalizing the learning experience, and supporting informal learning.
Social media integration is one of the main advantages of MOOCs over traditional e-learning models, and MOOCs offer many ways to incorporate social media into training programs:
- Discussion boards. Course discussion forums are the most basic type of social platform used in MOOCs, but they are powerful tools and almost all MOOCs have them. Discussion boards provide spaces for learners to ask and answer questions and hold conversations about the course content. Participation in discussions is often one of the requirements for course completion. These forums have an advantage over in-class discussions as participants have more time to reflect on course materials and formulate their ideas and contributions. Discussion forums are most effective as learning tools when they are actively monitored and directed by instructors. Most learning management systems (LMSs) have discussion board modules.