MOOCs are here- let’s leverage them thoughtfully!


Uwituze and her family live in Rawanda.  They have $75 in savings. Although it is unlikely that Uwituze will ever be able to afford college, she aspires for a career in finance / banking.

She might just get what she dreamed for!  She will get the required knowledge through the Kepler project initiated by a non profit Generation Rawanda. Briefly, the Kepler project will leverage the MOOC ( Massive Open Online Course) model of education, and blend online content from best universities of the world with in-person instruction to help Uwituze realize her dream.

In 2007,  at the AERA Conference in New York, a professor from Yale demonstrated the first open access course ( earlier name for MOOC).  What began as bootstrapping has now grown into a blossoming industry. Harvard and MIT started a $60 million dollar non-profit and created edX. Likewise, Udacity raised $21.1 million with venture capital funding! (Source)

The power and reach of MOOC is undeniable.  Reasonably small sums of American dollars deliver immense value for people all around the globe.  The cost of one hundred cappuccinos could mean a student earns a CS101 or is able to take a class on Teaching, and sign up for the signature track and get verified as a successful candidate from Stanford, or other such university!

From a corporate L&D point-of-view, Jeanne Miester has shared a very useful article with the community.  Here, I note some additional considerations, and few reasons to use  MOOCs.

1.    Most organizations are not necessarily training content creators.  Even though some content is generated in-house, most is procured from third parties (trainers, training companies, or publishers).  MOOCs could be a great source to procure content (all in one place if no customization is required).

2.     MOOCs are mostly free and can enable professional development, up-skilling, or re-skilling.  Resources thus freed-up can be allocated elsewhere.

3.   Verification and certification becomes possible for $39- $100 per course.

4.  Learning on-line is convenient and easily accessible for employees / participants with internet access.

5.  Learning on-demand means that work time can we used for working which is a benefit to both the employee and the employer.

6.   MOOCs provide context-free situations ( are not organization, or industry specific), skill development, and add to the knowledge base.

MOOCs offer a good deal of benefits but there are challenges to consider as well.

1.    What’s the incentive to complete the program?  Only 5% of participants completed a MITX’s MOOC. (Source)

2.    How will we evaluate knowledge transfer and measure achievement?

3.     70:20:10- Do MOOCs currently address the need for peer-peer, informal, and formal social learning?

MOOC’s are not a perfect fit in every instance but they offer rich possibilities creating opportunity and flexibility in the L & D space.  I think of these considerations- will MOOC platforms  by Coursera, Udacity or others allow for creation of bespoke content?

There will be other considerations around:

1. Interoperability

2. Technical specifications

3. Reporting

4. Content assimilation, and curation from multiple providers

The future  is bright, and every organization needs to leverage this emerging trend in learning, and teaching to the extent they can ( just as McAfee did by ‘flipping the classroom’).

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s