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,
By Bryant Nielson, Managing Director On April 9, 2014 NO COMMENTS
Over the past several years, the educational requirements for jobs have been increasing. According to a study by Georgetown University, 63 percent of all jobs will require a bachelor’s degree by the year 2018. However, although students have been scrambling to get their degrees, employers are experiencing an unprecedented gap between the skills they need and the skills their employees have. In a survey conducted last year by Adecco, 92 percent of U.S. senior executives reported a workforce skills gap. The major areas of weakness were soft skills, technical skills, leadership, and computer skills, and these gaps are negatively impacting U.S. businesses, particularly in terms of their ability to obtain investment.
The problem can be traced to inadequacies in traditional education as well as a lack of sufficient workforce training. Nearly 60 percent of survey respondents reported that U.S. colleges and universities are not adequately preparing students for the workforce, and although 89 percent believe corporate apprenticeships or training programs could be a solution, more than 4 in 10 said that cost was a major impediment to developing in-house training programs.
The apparent disconnect between what students are learning in their degree programs and the skills that employers require has sparked interest in competency-based training programs, as well as digital learning environments like MOOCs that can greatly facilitate this training. Businesses need employees with skills, and they need them now.
By Bryant Nielson, Managing Director On March 31, 2014 NO COMMENTS
In this series, we’ll explore some major Megatrends in how and why MOOCs are being used in corporate training and development programs. The goal is to establish an overall picture of the current place of corporate MOOCs, where they are likely headed, and the challenges they may face on the way. In this first article, we’ll examine MOOCs within the context of the recent rise in corporate universities, which has been driven in part by some of the same forces behind the development of MOOCs.
What is a corporate university and why have they become popular?
Pepperdine University professor Mark Allen has defined a corporate university as “an educational entity that is a strategic tool designed to assist its parent organization in achieving its mission by conducting activities that cultivate individual and organizational learning, knowledge, and wisdom.” Corporate universities are distinct from training departments and traditional universities in that they focus more on helping an organization achieve its mission rather than specifically on helping individual employees do their jobs better.
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.
By Bryant Nielson, Managing Director On March 10, 2014 NO COMMENTS
Computer-based training (CBT) has been around in some form for roughly 50 years, and in that time it has generated a significant amount of buzz. Two of the biggest promises of CBT have been universal access to education (especially with the growth of online and mobile technologies) and adaptive learning—the ability to personalize learning experiences for individuals. Now, with massive open online courses (MOOCs) continuing to proliferate and new adaptive learning technologies popping up, it looks like 2014 might be the year these two promises are finally realized, together.
MOOCs and adaptive learning have not quite gelled yet, but there are trends that suggest they will soon. And when they do, the face of workplace and corporate training will change completely. This article briefly reviews what adaptive learning is and how it can improve organizational training and development, and then describes various advancements and technologies that suggest adaptive learning could soon be incorporated into MOOCs to produce some of the most powerful training models we have seen so far.
By Bryant Nielson, Managing Director On March 6, 2014 NO COMMENTS
If you’ve been following the MOOC news, you’ll know that massive open online courses have had their ups and downs. In 2012, which the New York Times dubbed “the year of the MOOC,” traditional higher education found itself truly threatened by new forces. Hopes for the courses were high and so was the pushback, but the conversation had begun. Then, in 2013, MOOCs started to really take off and evolve—millions of people participated in the free online courses, and new formats began to emerge, some of which I’ve explored in this blog.
Also in 2013, companies started to sit up and take notice. More organizations became faced with skills gaps, which came in two major flavors. First, companies were having even more difficulty finding qualified candidates to fill job openings—recent college and university graduates simply didn’t have the skills the companies required. And second, with technology changing so quickly, even current employees were falling behind. Traditional higher education was becoming inadequate for preparing people to enter the workforce, and traditional instructor-led training was becoming inadequate for keeping employees’ skills relevant and up to date. Faced with these challenges, a few pioneer companies started to turn to MOOCs as a way to train large numbers of learners in a short time and at a relatively low cost.