Do a quick web search for “MOOC” and you’ll see that Massive Open Online Courses are all the rage right now. Various media outlets have named 2011, 2012, and 2013 each “year of the MOOC.” While MOOCs have been used primarily in higher education, I’ve watched the phenomenon unfold through the lens of corporate training eLearning. I’ve participated in a handful of MOOCs, and here are a few aspects of MOOCs that I think can also add value to corporate training eLearning solutions
Collaboration: Many MOOCs use discussion boards, social media channels, email groups, and other tools to facilitate collaboration between learners. George Siemens, one of the early MOOC practitioners, even formulated a learning theory, connectivism, around the idea that learning is a process of creating a network connecting points of knowledge. Whether or not you see connectivism as a legitimate learning theory, providing a space for learners to ask questions, share their thoughts, and discuss course topics can undoubtedly add value to any learning experience. Take a look at another one of our blog posts for ideas on adding virtual collaboration to interactive eLearning.
Flexibility: While some MOOCs have specific start and end dates, others have no deadlines, allowing learners to move at their own speed. Even MOOCs that do have deadlines often make the course materials available after the class has ended so students can keep learning. While a learner-set pace may not work in a corporate setting where audiences often need new skills and knowledge quickly, flexibility is still possible. For example, designing mobile learning solutions can make learning experiences more flexible by allowing learners to access training materials anytime, anywhere.
Big data: Some MOOC providers are using their courses to gather data in order to improve learning. For example, Coursera tracks every click students make in order to fine-tune course content and provide insights about how people learn. Tracking user data in corporate training eLearning courses could also help determine which skills need additional support or how to improve course delivery.
I’m not suggesting that corporate trainers jump on the bandwagon and start creating their own MOOCs (though others have explored how MOOCs could be useful in a corporate setting); I’m suggesting that corporate training eLearning professionals look at this new trend in online learning and glean what works.
Have you participated in a MOOC? What else do you think corporate eLearning professionals can learn from MOOCs?