It’s the beginning of the year—the time to make predictions about what the coming year will bring so that we can congratulate ourselves when they come true and make up excuses when they don’t. So, what will 2015 look like for corporate training and technology-enabled learning?
This is going to be a big year for technology-enabled learning. Many trends and movements have been bubbling just under the surface, and I expect that this will be the year they start making some serious waves. Here are my seven predictions for workforce education and learning technologies in 2015.
More companies will experiment with MOOCs.
Over the past year, companies have started dabbling with MOOCs, but the courses have yet to take off big time. There are a variety of reasons for this, including a lack of awareness, uncertainty about how to do it, and concerns regarding security, control over the information employees are learning and sharing, and so on (I’ll be addressing these and other objections to MOOCs in a series starting soon). (more…)
By Bryant Nielson, Managing Director On December 15, 2014 No Comments
Massive open online courses (MOOCs) and gamification hit the corporate training world at roughly the same time. MOOCs started to make their way into the mainstream in 2012, and while the idea of gamification has been around for more than a century, and the value of games in learning has been recognized for several decades, it is only recent advances in technology that have made both MOOCs and gamification viable training options.
Gamification has been a growing trend in organizations over the past few years. Starting mainly as a way to motivate sales teams through competition, the idea of using game mechanics has moved into many areas of the business environment, including training. Big-named companies, such as Deloitte and IBM have successfully implemented gamification in their L&D programs, and more organizations will be giving it a try over the next few years. According to this elearning infographic:
- By 2015, half of organizations’ innovation processes will use gamification for some aspects.
- Also by 2015, gamification will be the primary method by which 40% of Global 1000 organizations seek to transform their business operations.
By Bryant Nielson, Managing Director On December 1, 2014 No Comments
Often when we talk about the ROIs of any type of training, we focus on things that can be easily monetized. There is good reason for this—L&D, like every other department, must usually justify its existence by showing how its courses and programs are having a positive financial impact on the company. However, not all ROIs of training can easily be boiled down to dollars and cents.
The intangible benefits of training in general are many. In an article for Training Journal earlier this year, Martin-Christian Kent identified six intangible benefits that are common to all types of training programs:
- Increased employee satisfaction
- Increased organizational commitment
- Improved teamwork
- Improved customer service and reduced complaints
- Reduced conflicts
- Reduced stress
Even though these training results range from difficult to near-impossible to measure in monetary terms (at least immediately), they can have significant impacts on the success of a company. As training solutions, MOOCs can provide these benefits just as well as instructor-led training (ILT) or traditional eLearning. But as flexible, collaborative digital learning environments, MOOCs have the potential to provide even more intangible assets to an organization.
Here are five non-financial ROIs of using MOOCs for your corporate training and development. (more…)
By Bryant Nielson, Managing Director On November 17, 2014 No Comments
If there is one idea I hope I’ve impressed upon you in writing about massive open online courses (MOOCs), it’s that, unlike instructor-led training and traditional elearning, MOOCs are highly flexible online learning environments. The popular media often refers to a MOOC as being just one kind of thing, and that one thing is usually associated with the types of MOOCs found on Coursera. But, this perspective doesn’t provide the full story—over the past year or so, we’ve seen a tremendous amount of experimentation and development of the MOOC, and today the acronym is an umbrella term that is used to refer to a wide variety of large-scale online courses.
In the corporate training world, there are three main distinctions that are meaningful when determining what style of MOOC to implement:
- Scheduled versus self-paced
- Moderated versus non-moderated
- Fully online versus blended (or hybrid)
In this post, we’ll look at each of these distinctions to help trainers decide what type of MOOC best meets the needs of their organization and their learners. (more…)
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. (more…)
By Bryant Nielson, Managing Director On October 30, 2014 No Comments
In the training world, we often refer to instructor-led-training (ILT) as the gold standard. We compare every other form of training to it and seek to replicate it as closely as possible when developing new training methodologies. But it recently occurred to me that the underlying assumption here might not be correct, and that ILT might not be the ultimate high-value training after all.
Digital learning environments like massive open online courses (MOOCs) are starting to challenge the preeminence of ILT. Is it time we had a new gold standard?
Why is instructor-led training considered the best?
ILT became the gold standard not because it’s perfect (we all know that isn’t true), but because it’s better than other traditional methods of training. There is no question that ILT is superior to sending a new hire a booklet to read or putting an employee in a room with a computer to hit “Next-Next-Next” on a PowerPoint deck, but these are not exactly examples of high-quality training. (more…)
By Bryant Nielson, Managing Director On October 22, 2014 No Comments
Massive open online courses (MOOCs) are the education and training story of this decade (at least so far). In barely three years, they have expanded from a single course on artificial intelligence taught by Sebastian Thrun and Peter Norvig in the fall of 2011 to thousands of MOOCs taught by instructors from leading colleges, universities, and companies on various platforms around the world. It’s impressive.
However, while there is growing awareness of the existence of MOOCs, there persists a good deal of confusion about what they actually are and what they can do. This is unsurprising for two reasons:
- MOOCs have changed considerably since they first came out, and they are continuing to evolve as both the pedagogies and the technologies
- Many types of courses fall under the MOOC umbrella. Education insiders have developed an entirely new vocabulary surrounding the courses, but in popular parlance, they are all commonly referred to as MOOCs.
The goal of this article is to clear up some of the confusion by exploring what a MOOC is and, perhaps more importantly, what it isn’t, and clarifying the roles MOOCs can play specifically within the context of corporate training.
A MOOC is a framework, not a platform.
One of the biggest sources of confusion I encounter is the idea that a MOOC is an online learning platform, a learning management system (LMS). This misconception is understandable, since the language we use often equates MOOC providers like Coursera and edX with the courses themselves, but it is a misconception nonetheless. (more…)
By Bryant Nielson, Managing Director On August 28, 2014 No Comments
How do your employees feel about your organization’s current training program? Are they getting the training they need? Do they find that training valuable? Engaging? Relevant? Does it help them do their jobs better?
Corporate learners today need something different from their training than they did in the past. This article will focus on those needs and on how massive open online courses (MOOCs) can address them.
There are no two ways about it: today’s employees need more training—both more than they have ever needed before and more than they are currently getting. This need takes a variety of forms:
- More new-hire training. A recent Accenture survey revealed that while 80% of 2014 graduates expected formal training at their first job, fewer than half of 2012 and 2013 graduates actually received any training at all. Companies, especially those facing a skills gap, need to provide more training to help new hires be successful on the job.
- More regular training. With the pace of technological change, the half-life of skills is getting shorter. In many cases, knowledge and skills acquired five or 10 years ago are now obsolete. This is especially true in tech industries, where skills that were in hot demand even a few months ago may already be in need of an update. Annual or biannual training isn’t sufficient to keep up with the pace of change. As management consultant Mark Lukens wrote for Fast Company, the traditional once-a-year approach to training often focuses more on filling gaps and fixing weaknesses rather than on developing strengths. It also encourages complacency. Lukens suggests that organizations should “change goals as they become redundant or something better shows up, not just because it’s January.”
- More varied training. According to a new study by IBM, 80% of companies are now looking outside of their IT departments for ideas to bridge technical skills gaps. With boundaries between departments becoming blurrier, today’s employees need more well-rounded training options, including technical training outside of their areas of expertise and soft skills training to improve communication and collaboration.
- Innovation training. Innovation is the key to success in today’s competitive business landscape. Innovation expert Anthony Ferrier recommends training employees at all levels how to be innovative, not just to manage innovation. This training can result in benefits an improved bottom line and more empowered and engaged employees.
By Bryant Nielson, Managing Director On August 20, 2014 No Comments
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 (more…)
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. (more…)