Going big on training

Every enterprise knows training matters, every employee wants it and if you hope to keep your employees within the company you need to consider personal development as an essential part of your staff retention strategy.


Training for the new workplace


Billions of dollars are spent on employee training - $177 billion each year, according to the Georgetown Center for Education and the Workforce. That spend reflects the recognition among 96 percent of employers that ongoing education has a positive impact on job performance.


The market for outsourced training services now accounts for 42% of total expenditure, says Docebo, and 93 percent of organizations make some use of eLearning solutions within their offer, but there’s always skills and funding limitations that restrict what enterprises can offer.


So what are Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC) and how can they help? MOOCs are (frequently) free online courses that are available across a dizzying range of topics to unlimited numbers of people.  The courses are usually created by universities on platforms including Coursera, Udacity, edX, iTunes U or even the Open University Futurelearn project.


A MOOC will comprise a content rich selection of educational assets, including lectures, videos and presentations. Online forums are an essential part of the mix, students use these to engage with other learners, share work and drive engagement.


learning in the crowd


FutureLearn course experiences are strongly focused on social interaction in the forums, encouraging students to learn actively by engaging in conversations around the learning material, for example. This peer-to-peer engagement and assessment is critical – it’s what sets the difference between these complex MOOCs and traditional online learning solutions.


Georgetown University Provost Robert Groves says, “The ability of massive open online courses to deliver exactly the same experience simultaneously to thousands and thousands of students breaks the mold of traditional university education.”


“We are persuaded that well-designed interactive systems have the potential to achieve at least equivalent educational outcomes while opening up the possibility of saving significant resources which could then be redeployed more productively,” researchers concluded in the 2012 trail-based Interactive Learning Online at Public Universities report.


A 2014 Duke University study reveals over three-quarters of enterprises had used (7 percent), considered using (5 percent), or could see their companies using MOOCs (71 percent) for employees’ professional development. About 73 percent of employers already look favorably on MOOC completion in the hiring process, according to Coursera cofounder, Daphne Koller.


Not just B2B


MOOCs are incredibly useful to enterprises seeking to upskill staff. Switched on enterprises will also give employees study time in which to pursue study, enabling self-development in order to boost staff retention.


Flexibility is part of the attraction. Announcing its MSc Computer Science MOOC in 2014, Nelson Baker, Georgia Tech’s dean of professional education observed, “Almost every student enrolled this spring is also working full time, something that would be extremely difficult to do in a traditional program.”


To help boost completion, many MOOC courses use gamification techniques to make them more compelling, designed to guide learners through the process.


Good for business


What’s critical is that enterprises of any size can make use of the course creation and course design intelligence inside MOOC development to help guide them in the design of their own eLearning solutions.


Enterprises can create their own branded MOOCs for a range of scenarios: New employee orientation? Management training? Learning to use new systems? In each case the principle of gamified MOOC design should help deliver compelling training courses for your enterprise (and data analytics should help you maintain and improve courses over time).


One great example saw a bespoke MOOC replace McAfee’s cumbersome 120-hour internally developed sales training course. Not only did the self-paced nature of the new course fit better into new hire schedules, but it also significantly increased sales (up $500,000, allegedly).


There’s potential beyond internal training. Khan Academy and Bank of America created a series of customer focused money management guides in MOOC form – it is possible you can identify synergistic training and educational customer-focused MOOCs your enterprise could provide, fostering strong relationships and enabling customer loyalty.


There is no doubt MOOCs are part of eLearning delivery. A Future Workplace survey revealed 70 percent of respondents said they saw opportunities to integrate MOOCs into their own company’s learning programs. Perhaps you should consider the potential for your enterprise, too.

Stewart Baines
Stewart Baines

I've been writing about technology for nearly 20 years, including editing industry magazines Connect and Communications International. In 2002 I co-founded Futurity Media with Anthony Plewes. My focus in Futurity Media is in emerging technologies, social media and future gazing. As a graduate of philosophy & science, I have studied futurology & foresight to the post-grad level.