Free Massive Online Education Provider, Coursera, Begins To Find A Path To Profits


TechCrunch

Online education providers may very well disrupt the higher-education establishment, but first, these for-profit companies need to find a way to finance the mammoth technical infrastructure needed to support millions of students. It’s a challenge that all mission-based businesses wrestle with, and why many have wondered whether Massively Open Online Course (MOOC) providers will ever become big business — or be around in five years — let alone “transform higher education,” as they’ve so often promised.

Today, one of the biggest MOOC providers on the web, Coursera, showed skeptics that it has indeed found a way to monetize free educational content and may just be on the road to riches. In a blog post this afternoon, Coursera announced that it has raised over $1 million for paid certifications, which verify that students passed (an otherwise free) online college course.

For those unfamiliar, Coursera partners with top-tier universities — more than…

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‘Teaching with Moodle’ MOOC stats


Just heard that about 8000 people are participating in the MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) ‘Teaching with Moodle’. In its 1st week now, the course has generated 6000 forum posts, nearly 2500 badges have been awarded and almost 2000 courses have been requested. What do MOOCs have going for them?

Here are a few things:

1. Free (Almost, unless one wants certification, or verification)

2. Content of interest (People have a choice to participate in the subject of their choice- there is immense intrinsic motivation )

3. Recognition (Peer and professional through Badges and boards )

4. Social (6000 forum posts? No standalone elearning, book, or ILT will generate this much interaction).

Again, how will corporations leverage this shift in how people choose to learn? The shift will neither be instantaneous, nor easy. A smooth, successful migration / inclusion will require a framework.

What do you think are the considerations?

 

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’).

Strategic Success feeds off of Culture


I came across an article by Derek Irvine at TLNT .com on the importance of culture over strategy. While I do not wish to emphasis on the ‘over’ part of the conversation, I certainly agree with the writer that culture determines lasting success.

Culture influences employees more than anyone outside of HR  might estimate. Strategy can determine direction of an organization, but it is the employees imbued in the company culture who can propel the machine forward.

Culture impacts hiring, and retention decisions; culture impacts talent development ethics, and it is only the right culture that builds collaboration between teams, and LOBs to foster innovation.

In the article, the author gives an example of Zappos where customer satisfaction is a direct influence of culture. As a Learning and Development strategist I appreciate it perhaps more than a few others that Strategy and  L&D efforts are critical to success, but they are not the only determinants. Neither is the financial acumen or blessings of a VC the determinant of success.  Culture, strategy, and tactics interwoven as the fabric of operation lead to success.

A link to the above mentioned article is here

Innovation all around!


Imagine this scenario-  you just learnt that someone in your organization had an idea which was ground breakingly innovative, and had the potential to turn around the loss making entity. No big deal there, except that the idea went undiscovered for 32 long years!

This actually happened in a yarn manufacturing unit, which was suffering from yarn breakage problems and so losing markets ( Kanter, HBR 10 Essential Reads). A newly hired executive, who believed that innovative ideas can come from everywhere encouraged people to speak up.  An immigrant worker suggested an idea, and when asked how long did he have this idea, he answered, “32 years”.
                                                                                                                                
Nobody had heard about this idea, because nobody had asked!

Innovation can come from every direction, not only top down, and that was my take away.  Serendipity, that same evening my father told a story about his practice when designing and manufacturing a product for his customers.  My father has been an engineering expert for the last 40 years and successfully runs his own company.  He makes sure that the welder, and the lathe worker are part of the initial product design and estimation, and one day when he and his foreman were ideating on a product, it is this welder who identified that the rod was thick, and not suitable for what they were thinking, and suggested an option to make this work!
A lesson in innovation right in my own home!

Just take away a few things such as-1. Ask

2. Be open to ideas from anywhere
3. Do not reject anything before having examined it  thoroughly
4. Smart people are all around you, ask and ask again, this time for their opinion
5. If you have the power to authorize, and you believe the idea makes sense..prototype.
This does seem over-simplified now, does it not? Well, use all the innovation models you wish while making sure you implement the first four points always.

As a Learning and Talent Management professional, I see big lessons learned here.  In this supremely ‘interactive’ age, are you harnessing the potential and knowledge of all the employees of your company?

Think about an opportunity here to be able to impact Learning and Development of employees, business goals and strategy of the organization as a whole, a cultural shift from ‘innovation is top down’, and Talent retention and management.
In subsequent posts, I want to dig deeper into Innovation, Learning and Talent Management.

Now back to my coffee at Starbucks in Times Square, NYC.