Massive open online courses (MOOCs) recently celebrated their third anniversary. What started as an ambitious experiment is now becoming a standard component of education. Learners around the country and around the world are taking MOOCs. Even many students at traditional brick and mortar institutions are taking MOOCs, sometimes as standalone courses, sometimes as part of a hybrid learning program.
And there are new developments all of the time. Just this month, Coursera and the University of Illinois announced that the school’s entire MBA program would be put online in a MOOC format. Students can take the courses for free; they can sign up for paid course sequences called Specializations, such as “Digital Marketing” and “Improving Business Finances and Operations”; or they can complete the entire curriculum and earn an iMBA from the University of Illinois. This last option costs $20,000, but that is about $80,000 less than what an MBA costs elsewhere. (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 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 March 24, 2014 No Comments
This series is exploring the seven main ways companies are using MOOCs as identified by Bersin by Deloitte. In the previous article, we looked at building talent pipelines and onboarding new employees: two uses for the massive courses that come at the very beginning of (and even before) a company develops a formal relationship with its employees. This article focuses on two subsequent aspects of that relationship—self-directed development and workforce training—which fit more neatly into traditional ideas about job skills learning and development.
Many different types of learners take MOOCs, and they do so for many different reasons. One of the major reasons millions of people spend their free time taking online courses is to enhance their job-specific knowledge and skills to advance their career. In fact, more than six out of ten MOOC students take the courses either to learn more about their current field or to prepare themselves to enter a new one. That’s a huge number of learners engaging in self-directed development. (more…)
By Bryant Nielson, Managing Director On November 11, 2013 No Comments
Big data is revolutionizing all fields, and smart organizations are taking note. According to a 2011 report by global management firm McKinsey: “The use of big data will become a key basis of competition and growth for individual firms. From the standpoint of competitiveness and the potential capture of value, all companies need to take big data seriously.” Now, in 2013, massive open online courses (MOOCs) are bringing big data to education. With courses enrolling upwards of 100,000 students each, an enormous amount of data is being generated and preliminary reports are starting to come in.
The current available data come from three reports on three MOOC ventures: Duke’s Bioelectricity (Coursera), a group of six MOOCs offered by the University of Edinburgh (Coursera), and MIT’s Circuits and Electronics (edX). Here is a brief look at what the data show so far and what corporate trainers can learn from them.
Who Takes MOOCs?
MOOC students are older than traditional university students: Duke and Edinburgh reported that, respectively, 86 and 72 percent of students were age 44 and under, with one-third of Edinburgh students falling into the 25-to-34 year-old range. These data show that MOOC participants are more representative of the workforce than of the university population, a trend that should be encouraging for corporate trainers because it suggests both that employees are voluntarily engaging in challenging educational pursuits and that the MOOC format appeals to these independent learners. (more…)
By Bryant Nielson, Managing Director On July 26, 2013 No Comments
Can simulations tell stories? The affirmative answer of yes suggests that gamified simulations built around narrative may be considered an anomaly by some seeing as how the term of gamification was only recently introduced. But for us it’s just common practice, so let me delve a little further into what I mean by narrative and how it has a profound affect on a gamified simulation.
Let’s first begin by further explaining narrative. By definition narrative is: A narrated account; a story. Alternatively, it’s the art, technique, or process of narrating. By further characterization, simulations are narratives; they have a story behind them. You can take a seemingly boring topic and actually breathe life into it to make it much more engaging for the trainee to learn. By utilizing a gamified simulation with narrative it aids in creating a story and context for a specific activity and makes learning more palatable.
“Narrative theory states that humans are primarily storytellers, thus people respond favorably to messages presented in a narrative framework” -Morgan, Cole, Struttman, & Piercy, 2002 (more…)
By Bryant Nielson, Managing Director On July 15, 2013 No Comments
Forrester Research (http://www.forrester.com/Gamification+Level+Up+Your+Strategic+Approach/fulltext/-/E-RES95622) recently released a new study that highlights the fact that companies just don’t understand the concept of gamification well enough in order to make it work to their advantage. This helps to confirm the point that I have tried to make all along and that is… Companies and universities for the most part just don’t recognize the unique value proposition that gamification coupled with simulation technologies can bring to the organization to aid in training/teaching learners.
In the study, Forrester states that a company investing in gamification needs to know who their target audience is and what that audience finds as valuable. Also the organization must determine its business objectives and chart an action plan to reach them, and in addition use an “engagement loop to connect user motivations to those actions.” Past failures by some businesses have lead enterprises to question gamification applications even more so then they already were previously. The Forrester report also said, “It’s not gamification itself that fails, it is the poor application of gamification that does.” (more…)
By Bryant Nielson, Managing Director On May 20, 2013 No Comments
A company’s Learning and Development (L&D) function is only as good as the outcomes that it consistently delivers. Are your employees working to their potential? Are there skill gaps that have not been addressed? Is L&D listening to what employees think they need more of? All these questions, and more, need to be answered to help an organization learn and grow. The success of any company depends on the success of its employees. In order to be motivated and productive, employees must feel that they have achieved professional growth as individuals within the organization. A training strategy involving MOOCs creates an environment that allows people and organizations to learn and grow, not only as individual entities, but also within the sphere of the industry that they belong to.
When you host MOOCs across your organization, you ensure that everybody is trained to perform role-based activities in a similar fashion. MOOCs enable a uniform content delivery platform, thus standardizing processes across geographies, to the extent possible. In case of process deviations in certain locations, participants from other offices can choose to learn about the reasons for these deviations and increase their awareness of the company’s operations. This environment of “one way” of doing things allows a company to measure and monitor its offices’ performances more accurately. (more…)
By Bryant Nielson, Managing Director On October 7, 2009 No Comments
We all instinctively know that learning and development within the corporate space is ‘supposed to’ make a difference. Yet, far too often the programs (not necessary the people) fail due to the following reasons. Some of these reasons are structural, but too many times it is just poor project management.
A primary reason many programs and courses fail is because there is no “Accountability”. Learning and Development departments think that they provide accountability by counting the number of seats in the program, or talking about how and why this program is valuable. But they fail in the correlation of the program to the participant job or position. (more…)
By bryant.nielson On March 13, 2009 No Comments
It seems that we have the idea that New Year’s Resolutions should apply only to our personal issues, such as health, career, and family. As learning and development professionals, we can make five simple resolutions for 2009 and pave the way for more efficient and cost-effective training. Not only will you improve learning at your organization, you will continue to justify your worth in a tough economic climate.
First, promise to use needs analysis before saying, “I do” to a training request. This may be difficult in this climate, where some training organizations are hanging by a thread and expected to do whatever comes their way. But your needs analysis can be positioned as a way to get every penny’s worth of cost and time – and that’s important for organizations that are lean in pocketbook and staff.
When you are asked to take on a project, ask questions first. For example, a training request may arise from employee mistakes. In this case, ask what’s wrong. This question leads to a discussion of what the employee group is doing right now and how they are making the mistakes they are making. In cases where there is no apparent mistake, ask the stakeholders what the expected outcome is. Are employees supposed to learn a new process, a new product, a new system, or a combination of all three? From this, you can determine what the change is going to be – and how to focus your development and delivery efforts. (more…)