MOOCs in the corporate world

The academic world is abuzz with the newest form of learning for Global blue Computer Networkstudents – 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.

MOOCs have been growing in popularity because of its affiliation with “connectivism”, where thousands of students can interact with each other to share notes and thoughts. This, along with the training content, increases their knowledge base and helps them build social networks around their areas of interest.

Obviously, some of the above aspects of MOOCs do not go down too well with corporates. For one, most corporates would be uncomfortable hosting open, free for all courses. Where’s the business sense in that? It is this reason that is seeing low or no acceptance yet among companies. But here’s where a few tweaks to the original MOOC can make corporate training in your organization better, cheaper and more effective than the traditional methods being used today.

Tweaking the MOOC for the corporate world

Every company has its own culture that decides how much it wants to share. Companies may not want to host a training that is available to a massive group on people, but instead may only want to provide training to employees or a certain section of employees based on their role. When you are a geographically diverse company, whether within the country or globally, a corporate MOOC will still give you a larger audience to cater to in a shorter time span as compared to traditional instructor led courses. So relatively, this is still a massive training in your company’s context.

Companies with more willingness to share may choose to keep non-confidential trainings open to a larger community or even the public at large. This can act as a brand builder, quite similar to your company’s thought leadership material or sponsored events.

Based on the topic of training, its sensitivity or confidentiality, the requirement of the training material to those outside the company and the company’s keenness or averseness to experimenting with MOOCs, companies can decide whether they want to host their training content on the internet or on their intranet.

  MOOCs in academia MOOCs in closed corporates MOOCs in open corporates
What are we talking about? Currently available MOOCs, mainly focusing on academic learning MOOCs with suggested tweaks for corporates who would not like to share their content outside the company MOOCs with suggested tweaks for corporates who are open to sharing training content outside the company
Is it massive? Yes. Enrolled student numbers can be as high as 150,000 Depends on the size of your company. The enrollments are restricted to the number of employees you have. Yes. You could potentially host trainings online for the whole world.
Is it open? Yes. Open to all and free for all. In a way. It will only be open to everyone in your company, across all geographies. Yes. Your selected courses can be viewed by anyone. However, you may be choose to charge a nominal fee for outsiders to participate in your MOOC.
Is it online? Yes. It will be available online, but on the intranet, not the internet. Yes, both.


Making business sense

Saving money

On an average, U.S. companies spent $706 for training every employee in 2012, according to The Corporate Learning Factbook® 2013. For organizations with more mature Learning & Development (L&D) functions, this number was even higher at $867 per employee. This does not include the monetary value of time that employees have to take off from work on specific days and at specific hours for the training. For client facing employees, this means they cannot meet with their clients during the training and must run their schedule around it. A MOOC will allow employees to fit the training into their schedule rather than the other way round, maintaining business as usual. This also means that companies will be able to uniformly deliver their training content to all employees, without spending money on travel, training centers, refreshments, etc. Plus, employees can view their training content multiple times, as and when they please.

Increasing motivation

The biggest motivation to individuals to complete a task is when they have chosen to do the task in the first place. Companies can use MOOCs to provide various non-mandatory or soft skill trainings that users can choose to take. This freedom of choice encourages people to learn and apply their learnings in the workplace.

Encouraging creativity

What makes this any different from an e-learning course, you ask? Let’s take you back to the theory of “connectivism”. MOOCs marry the traditional classroom to the electronic network. Even though your employees are learning on their computer, they are connected to others who are also taking the same course. This allows them to interact and so many times this is how new ideas are generated that not only help the employees, but in many cases the organization as well. Another difference is that MOOCs contain rich content such as videos, infographics, quizzes, etc. This engages employees with content structure that is very similar to what they would find online had they been researching themselves. MOOCs, therefore, give employees that comfort zone that they’re looking for in a training that allows them to enjoy and learn creatively.

MOOCs are here to stay and it is up to companies to make use of the advantages of this method of training while not applying the aspects that do not make business sense. Sooner or later, MOOCs will move from the academic space to the corporate space in a big way. Will you be prepared?

Copyright 2013 Bryant Nielson. All Rights Reserved.

Bryant Nielson – Managing Director of CapitalWave Inc.– offers 25+ years of training and talent management for executives, business owners, and top performing sales executives in taking the leap from the ordinary to extraordinary. Bryant is a entrepreneur, trainer, and strategic training adviser for many organizations. Bryant’s business career has been based on his results-oriented style of empowering the individual.

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Bryant Nielson is heavily involved in the Corporate Training and Leadership and Talent space. He currently is the Managing Director for CapitalWave Inc and the training division, Financial Training Solutions. He brings a diverse corporate experience of organizational development, learning and talent development, and corporate training, that also includes personal coaching of top sales individuals and companies of all sizes. For the prior 4 years, Bryant was the Managing Director and Leadership and Talent Manager for Lengthen Your Stride! LLC. In this position, Nielson was the developer of all of the courses for MortgageMae University (MMU), the Realtor Development Center (RDC), and of Lengthen Your Stride! (LYS). In that position, he developed material, refined over many years of use and active training, and condensed the coursework and training to be high impact, natural learning, and comprehensive. Bryant has over 27 years of Senior Management experience encompasses running his own Training and mortgage firm, in New York City. He strongly believes that the corporate training is not to be static but should 'engage and inspire' students to greater productivity and performance.