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.
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 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 December 16, 2013 NO COMMENTS
How much of their essential job skills and knowledge are people in your organization learning from one another? 10%? 20%? Probably closer to 80%. Do you know what they are learning? Does it align with the goals of your training program? Well, that may be difficult to judge, but one thing is certain: they will remember it. Regardless of how much time and energy you put into creating content and designing your training, your employees will learn more from their peers. In a previous set of articles, we looked at the advantages of using a massive open online course (MOOC) to incorporate informal learning into training programs. Here we will focus more specifically on peer learning and how a MOOC can be used to facilitate, structure, and assess it.
Peer learning is a powerful learning tool, but one that is largely unharnessed in any organized way, often because of the belief that it does not allow for very tight control. One method that many companies have embraced is mentorship, and research has shown that employees who have mentors feel more supported by the organization, show stronger organizational commitment, and are more likely to stay. But peer learning takes place in many other ways—people give one another advice, opinions, and ad hoc lessons all of the time, over email, the phone, and even the water cooler. Although these interactions are casual, they nevertheless account for a large amount of organizational learning, and companies can benefit from not only encouraging but also facilitating them.
By Bryant Nielson, Managing Director On September 23, 2013 NO COMMENTS
Massive open online courses (MOOCs) are a bit of a chimera – they have the head of instructor-led training, the body of traditional e-learning, and the long tail of social media. They also take advantage of many technology-enabled learning tools and platforms. Just as there are myriad types of brick-and-mortar courses, there are many types of MOOCs, each of which has its own goals and implementations. How do we design effective training programs for such an eclectic creature? In a presentation given at the 2013 Sloan-C conference, Jason Mock, instructional designer at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, noted that MOOCs do not require completely new models of instructional design, but that problems in MOOCs are by nature much, much bigger than problems in traditional courses. Because of this, sound instructional design is even more essential for MOOCs than for other types of programs.
So what are some main issues corporate trainers need to consider when designing a MOOC?
By Bryant Nielson, Managing Director On August 8, 2013 NO COMMENTS
The proliferation of massive open online courses (MOOCs) has prompted many discussions about what education is, what it means, and how best to deliver it in the current digital environment. While the debate continues on whether MOOCs will eventually lead to degrees, the knowledge gained from the first year and a half of these huge online experiments is changing the perceptions and practices of education both online and in the classroom. These lessons are especially valuable for corporate training and continuing professional development programs, which companies are rapidly moving online to lower costs and increase efficiency. Over a series of articles, we will explore what MOOCs have taught us about the best ways to design, deliver, assess, and recognize learning online. This first article highlights MOOC methods for delivering training content in a way that leads to real engagement and mastery, and ultimately to better job performance.
MOOCs have focused the spotlight on how teachers teach and students learn, and many of the assumptions that form the foundations of education and training are being challenged. The first idol to fall has been the lecture. Lectures have been staples practically since the beginning of training programs. The problem is that unless the goal is to put people to sleep, lectures just don’t work. Studies going back to the 1970s have shown that people simply can’t pay attention and retain
By Bryant Nielson, Managing Director On June 10, 2013 NO COMMENTS
Let’s just admit now, that most of you reading this blog post have enjoyed some play time behind a video game controller whether it be mastering Tetris, Doom or any other video game for that matter. Although it’s scary to learn that three billion hours a week (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-22508983) are spent on playing games (mainly as a pastime) it also drives home my point of stating that simulations coupled with gamification techniques can be an extremely powerful tool and one that resonates with a wide audience. Games are everywhere; games will lead the way both now and in the future.
It always seems as though the video game industry is introducing sequels to popular games rather than re-inventing the wheel and developing a new game, why not just add another one onto an already popular money-making video game series? Not to name names here, but: Battlefield 3, Uncharted 3 and Mass Effect 3 are just to name a few. And while I’m at it I might just mention Play Station 3. The lure of the video game is to draw the player in, interaction if you will. Not only does one have the opportunity to play against another player but there is also the aspect of the leader board. This leader board drives one to achieve better mastery of the game and reach higher levels. The whole idea around leader boards, badges, community collaboration, achievements and the list goes on and on… is that all of these ideas transfer over to real life.
By Bryant Nielson, Managing Director On June 10, 2013 NO COMMENTS
Web 2.0 and the rapid rise of Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and other communications platforms have made one thing abundantly clear: Everything is social. And researchers, educators, and trainers have begun to realize that learning is no exception. As the workforce grows to include more Millennials – digital natives who spend nearly four hours per day on social networking sites – the social impact on training cannot be overstated. According to a 2011 ASTD report, social media enables learning by providing platforms for people to exchange information, facilitating communication, personalizing the learning experience, and supporting informal learning.
Social media integration is one of the main advantages of MOOCs over traditional e-learning models, and MOOCs offer many ways to incorporate social media into training programs:
- Discussion boards. Course discussion forums are the most basic type of social platform used in MOOCs, but they are powerful tools and almost all MOOCs have them. Discussion boards provide spaces for learners to ask and answer questions and hold conversations about the course content. Participation in discussions is often one of the requirements for course completion. These forums have an advantage over in-class discussions as participants have more time to reflect on course materials and formulate their ideas and contributions. Discussion forums are most effective as learning tools when they are actively monitored and directed by instructors. Most learning management systems (LMSs) have discussion board modules.
By Bryant Nielson, Managing Director On June 7, 2013 NO COMMENTS
Just in case you’ve been under a rock lately, here is a news update: the nature of training is changing, and fast! The recent explosion of massive open online courses (MOOCs) in higher education has brought with it a whole new set of technology-enabled learning tools. Education and training are no longer delivered exclusively in closed classrooms by experts, and learning is no longer something people do in isolation surrounded by textbooks. Today, through computers and mobile devices, education can happen anywhere and at any time, and learning involves students not only actively engaging with the content, but also using various tools and platforms to interact with instructors and fellow learners. In the education sector, this is known as Learning 2.0, and the corporate sector needs to be prepared: Training 2.0 is coming.
What exactly does this mean?
There continues to be plenty of controversy surrounding MOOCs, but one thing we can all agree on is they are changing the way we think about education. The main drivers and implications of this change are huge improvements and innovations in learning technologies. Technology-enabled learning tools are not a panacea, but they can go a long way toward solving many of the challenges facing training departments today, including high costs, a lack of qualified employees, the rapidly changing business and technology landscapes, and long training development times coupled with the need to educate employees quickly. Over the course of two articles, we will examine the main “MOOC tools” – online technologies that have made it possible to deliver highly engaging training programs to any number of employees, anywhere, at any time.
By Bryant Nielson, Managing Director On May 1, 2013 NO COMMENTS
The academic world is abuzz with the newest form of learning for students – the Massive Open Online Course or MOOC. In just over 1 year, it has become such a force that it already has large groups of supporters and detractors debating on its quality and effectiveness. MOOCs aim to work on an individual’s motivation to self-study and explore topics of her choice. While tremendous number of students and universities have benefitted by MOOCs, in order to understand the possibility and extent of a MOOC’s applications to the corporate world, we must understand its fundamental principles.
Let’s dissect the term for a clearer view:
Massive: This form of training is meant to be received by thousands of people. Course content, cultural sensitivities, geographical deviations to a subject and infrastructure to host the MOOC have to be evaluated accordingly.
Open: MOOCs were originally designed to be free for all. However, hybrid models are now appearing with economically priced paid courses. All MOOCs are open to anybody who wishes to participate in the training.
Online: In order to be massive, you have to go online. MOOCs are broadcasted online so that maximum amount of people can participate and benefit from the training.
Course: These are trainings given by highly qualified trainers with a learning objective for all students. Most MOOCs provide completion certificates to those who pass all tests and quizzes.