For more than a year now, this blog has focused on massive open online courses (MOOCs). We’ve looked at what they are, the technologies that underlie them, and their place in organizational and employee learning and development. At this point, it feels like a good time to take a step back from the ROIs and the how-tos, and explore the top reason MOOCs are having such a huge impact on corporate training.
MOOCs are not just fancy new technologies to attract and retain Millennials. Nor are they just more efficient methods for companies to save time and money while also delivering high-quality training. Over the past few years, especially as the skills gaps continue to widen and digital technologies pervade every aspect of our personal and professional lives, some of the fundamental ideas that have defined training for decades are shifting. Training is not only moving from in-person to online, but from just-in-case to just-in-time and from knowledge transfer to performance support. MOOCs have become popular largely because their flexible format allows companies to deliver the type of training required in the increasingly ad-hoc, BYOD environment that is the modern workplace.
Training with a purpose
By Bryant Nielson, Managing Director On August 12, 2014 NO COMMENTS
Digital learning environments, like e-learning, online training, and massive open online courses (MOOCs), have without a doubt been the biggest influencers on corporate training practice over the past several years. According to recent statistics, 80% of organizations offer online training and companies that have adopted e-learning have realized significant benefits, including 60% reduction in training time.
But while traditional e-learning may offer improvements over instructor-led training, from a learner’s perspective, it still leaves much to be desired. As this Learn Dash infographic shows, e-learners become frustrated by many aspects of their courses, including:
- Finding lists of procedures and regulations tedious (76%)
- Getting bored with the courses (38%)
- Hating it when the pace is too fast or too slow (37%)
In the previous post, we explored how MOOCs can improve on instructor-led training and traditional e-learning in terms of saving organizations both time and money. But of course the ultimate goal of training is have your employees learn something, which requires keeping them engaged.
By Bryant Nielson, Managing Director On July 24, 2014 NO COMMENTS
On this blog, we have looked at massive open online courses (MOOCs) from a variety of perspectives. We have explored what MOOCs are and what they can do, the many reasons corporate training departments are ripe for MOOC disruption, and how to use various technology-enabled learning tools to design and run a MOOC.
One issue we have not addressed, and which will be the focus of this next short series, is how to get the support—from executives, managers, and staff—necessary for a MOOC’s success.
Upper-level buy-in is important for all L&D initiatives, but perhaps even more so with MOOCs. Many of the advantages of using this training format, for example the development of personal learning networks, only come when a course is integrated both horizontally and vertically throughout an organization.
By Bryant Nielson, Managing Director On July 17, 2014 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 July 3, 2014 NO COMMENTS
Over the past few months, we have explored the social component of massive open online courses (MOOCs) from several angles. We have examined the role of peer learning in organizations and the importance of creating personal learning networks. We have also reviewed the major technology-enabled learning tools that MOOCs use to support social interaction. In this article and the next, we will put it all together by looking at why businesses should use social media in their training and development programs and various practical ways to implement peer learning through social media in corporate MOOCs.
Many organizations are wary of social media, mainly because of a lack of control and the fear that social networking on the job will quickly devolve into “social notworking.” This fear is probably largely unfounded—companies were also suspicious about email and the Internet, but there is little doubt (and a lot of empirical research) that these innovations have improved, not harmed, productivity. In today’s environment, businesses that do not adopt new technologies are setting themselves up for failure. According to a 2012 Capgemini report, digital leaders—defined as those companies that use new technologies such as social media, mobile technologies, and analytics—are 26 percent more profitable than their competitors and generate both more revenue and higher market valuation ratios.
By Bryant Nielson, Managing Director On June 26, 2014 NO COMMENTS
Over the course of the past year on this blog, I’ve described several ways MOOCs are already changing training and development. These digital learning environments and the technology-enabled learning tools that power them are making training more engaging, more relevant, and as a result, more effective. In particular, MOOCs have three main advantages over traditional instructor-led training:
- They allow training departments to easily unbundle content so that employees have access to the information they need when they need it.
- They help foster peer learning and the development of personal learning networks within, and even between, organizations.
- They allow organizations to track and mine training data on a large scale to improve training results, discover relationships between variables, customize training programs, and predict training effectiveness.
By Bryant Nielson, Managing Director On June 12, 2014 NO COMMENTS
The Millennial generation has posed one of the greatest challenges to the business world over the past few years. Millennials have different ideas from the generations that came before them about what jobs should be (i.e., places to learn and then move on), work-life balance (they believe balance is important), and the place of technology (they grew up with technology and much of their educational and social lives is already spent online). Millennials are changing how business is done, and in particular how workforce education is done. They are also the perfect audience for training MOOCs.
What do Millennials want?
What are Millennials? Digital natives who now make up more than one-third of the workforce. Tech-savvy self-directed learners. Young people who have spearheaded the rise of the share economy. Recent college grads who both expect and require extensive formal training to be successful in their jobs.
Their attitudes toward work and training are fundamentally different from those who came before, and it is essential that organizations both recognize and embrace these differences. As the Allen Communications website puts it:
“As learning professionals, we know we have to keep up with our audiences or be left behind. We also hear that Millennials
By Bryant Nielson, Managing Director On May 21, 2014 NO COMMENTS
As digital learning environments, MOOCs are incredibly flexible—they can be used for fully online courses, in hybrid courses, as supplementary materials, and more. One of the offshoots of the growth of MOOCs has been an interest in “flipped classes,” which is commonly conceived as a reversal of in-class time and out-of-class time. For example, the typical formula for flipping a class is to assign video lectures as homework and use in-class time for collaborative activities including role play and problem-solving. Here, we’ll look briefly at how to use MOOCs to flip a corporate classroom in this way as well as explore a broader perspective on what it means to flip an online course.
Flipping class time
When people talk about “flipping” a classroom, what they are usually talking about is a way of integrating technology into
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 April 16, 2014 NO COMMENTS
In the previous article, we explored how corporate training is moving away from seat-time and toward competencies. This larger picture here is not just a shift in how learning is measured, but an entire re-visioning of what effective training looks like.
Standard models of training, whether they are instructor-led or computer-based, look like very much like college classes—employees are taken out of their normal work environments to spend four or eight or forty hours “learning” things they may or may not encounter in their day-to-day jobs, and likely won’t remember if they do. But standard models are quickly being swept out the door by training methods that take place not outside of the normal work environment, but right smack in the middle of it. This has resulted in a new interest in microlearning, which is essentially any type of learning done in very short bursts. Digital learning environments, like MOOCs, can provide frameworks for a wide variety of microlearning activities.
What is microlearning and why should we use it
Microlearning has become a bit of a buzzword lately in the training and development world, but it is one that is not well defined. The main reason for this is that microlearning is not one single thing. In the context of training,