Massive open online courses (MOOCs) have been around long enough that most people in the training industry have at least a general understanding of what they are. But there is still some confusion about how they differ from more familiar forms of elearning and online courses.
In particular, a question I’m often asked is: “What’s the difference between a MOOC and a learning management system (LMS)?”
The basic answer is that an LMS is a platform for hosting a course, while a MOOC is the course itself. A MOOC can be run on an LMS, but it doesn’t have to be. In the same vein, an LMS can be used to host a course that is not a MOOC. Misunderstanding often creeps in because the major MOOC platforms — Coursera, edX, and so on — involve both an LMS and a MOOC. For example, if you take a course on Coursera, you are taking a Coursera MOOC that is hosted on the Coursera LMS. (more…)
By Bryant Nielson, Managing Director On May 7, 2015 No Comments
Aside from the time savings, the cost savings, and the boost in learner engagement, one of the biggest areas where massive open online courses (MOOCs) provide benefit is education research. MOOCs generate a huge amount of data, which can be collected and analyzed to gain insights into how people learn, what teaching methods are most effective, and many other areas related to learning.
Here we’ll review some of the new research that has come out of MOOCs and other technology-enabled learning environments and explore what the findings mean for corporate training.
Online learning works, so let’s shift the conversation to how to make it successful
Despite a plethora of research that online, blended, and other technology-enabled learning works just as well as face-to-face learning, many companies still hold tight to the belief that there is something special about in-person instructor-led training (ILT). (more…)
By Bryant Nielson, Managing Director On April 30, 2015 No Comments
Moving your corporate training courses to a massive open online course (MOOC) format represents a huge change, especially if you currently offer only instructor-led training (ILT). People at all levels of your company–managers, trainers, trainees–may understandably feel some apprehension about moving to the new format. The more you do at the beginning to address their concerns, the better the chances your first MOOC will be a success.
Here are six steps you can take to prepare your company for a MOOC.
1. Get buy-in from top to bottom
One factor that distinguishes MOOCs from all other forms of training is that their reach can span an entire organization all at the same time.
ILT takes place at the classroom level — interactions around courses are often limited to the employees in the room, or employees and their direct managers. E-learning takes place at the individual level — often no person-to-person interactions take place at all. But the most successful MOOCs take place at the organizational level — individuals throughout your organization participate through taking the course, facilitating the course, commenting on discussion boards, or serving as subject matter experts for certain topics. The best MOOCs have people participating at all of these levels, which means everyone in the organization needs to be committed to this new form of learning. (more…)
By Bryant Nielson, Managing Director On April 23, 2015 No Comments
Last week, we looked at the building blocks of technology-enabled learning, from elements like learning objectives that are common across all training formats to those that are specific to digital formats, like content authoring tools. This blog will explore more than 60 tools and technologies for successfully implementing each of these elements in your technology-enabled training program.
All training courses and programs should have learning objectives. This may seem obvious, but a lack of clearly defined objectives, or sometimes having the wrong objectives altogether, is a main reason why some training fails.
The first step in writing learning objectives for online training is to identify what type of course it is. As Tom Kuhlmann wrote on The Rapid E-Learning Blog, online courses usually fall into one of two categories: information or performance. Kuhlmann likens an information-based online course to a multimedia textbook: its doesn’t teach performance, it supports performance. Therefore, the objective of an information-based course is performance support. Performance-based courses do teach performance, and their goal is to change learner behavior. The category your online course falls into will determine how you present content and assess learning. (more…)
By Bryant Nielson, Managing Director On April 16, 2015 No Comments
So, you’ve decided to start using technology-enabled learning in your corporate training program. Now what?
Well, just like there is not a one-size-fits-all solution to all of today’s training challenges, there also isn’t just a single way to “do” technology-enabled learning. Your particular implementation depends on a variety of factors, including:
- Whether you’re developing the training in-house or purchasing it from a third-party vendor
- Whether you are using a fully online model or a blended learning model
- The comfort of the instructors and learners with the technologies you will use
- The devices learners will use to access the training
- And much more
However, regardless of the exact details of your implementation, all technology-enabled learning courses have a common set of building blocks. Some of these, like learning objectives, are the same for any type of course, online or off. Others, like analytics and reporting, are really only available in digital environments. This post explores each of these building blocks, and in the next we’ll look at specific tools and technologies in each category. (more…)
By Bryant Nielson, Managing Director On April 9, 2015 No Comments
Go to Google (or your favorite search engine) and type in “why employees love training.” Take a quick scroll through the results. Now type in “why employees hate training.” Notice the difference? Pages upon pages of articles about why people hate training, but on the love side, nada. Only advice on how to get employees to love your training. The assumption is very clearly that they don’t love it already.
The conundrum here is that employees want training. For a 2013 CareerBuilder survey, 35% of respondents said that increased training and learning opportunities would motivate them to stay with a company. Training helps employees do their jobs better, it helps them fit better into the company, and it provides the knowledge and skills they need for advancement. So why do they hate it? (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 February 27, 2015 No Comments
To wrap up our series exploring arguments against massive open online courses (MOOCs) and potential risks associated with the courses, in this final post we’ll turn the tables and look at some risks of NOT adopting MOOCs and other technology-enabled learning initiatives in corporate training programs.
MOOCs and other forms of technology-enabled learning signal a shift in our thinking about training. Today, learning isn’t just something we do in class; it’s something we do all of the time.
Companies that choose not to move their training programs into the 21st century using technology face three main risks:
- Not being able to provide enough training
- Not providing training that is as effective as it could be
- Being perceived as out of touch
The Association for Talent Development defines the term skills gap as “a significant gap between an organization’s skills needs and the current capabilities of its workforce that occurs at the point at which an organization can no longer grow or remain competitive because they don’t have the right skills to drive business results and support the firm’s strategies and goals.” (more…)
By Bryant Nielson, Managing Director On February 26, 2015 No Comments
For the past month, this blog has focused on common objections to using massive open online courses (MOOCs) and other technology-enabled learning tools in corporate training programs. We’ve explored the arguments that MOOCs aren’t interactive, that they are a one-size-fits-all solution to a many-sided problem, and that people don’t learn very well in them.
This article finishes up the series by addressing the idea that MOOCs are simply too risky on which to bank something as important as corporate training success.
What are the risks of MOOCs?
In addition to the issues explored earlier in this series, here are some perceived risks of using MOOCs in particular and technology-enabled learning in general.
The technology could break down or become obsolete.
Well, yes it could. But so could any other technology your company uses, whether it be an iPad or a cloud-based software application. (more…)
By Bryant Nielson, Managing Director On February 18, 2015 No Comments
In the five previous articles, we have addressed common objections to using massive open online courses (MOOCs) in corporate training. Here, we take a step back to tackle a more fundamental objection—the objection to using technology at all.
Here’s a sentiment commonly heard in training departments and conference rooms:
We’ve always done instructor-led training. Our entire training program is based on face-to-face interaction, and I don’t think learning technologies can offer us much of an advantage. Using learning technologies just isn’t right for me or for my company.
“We’ve always done it this way” syndrome is rampant in companies, especially regarding adopting new technology, and it can be difficult to overcome. This objection usually stems from an unwillingness to learn something new. But while adopting a new way of doing things can be painful for some, it must happen for businesses to survive and grow into the future. (more…)