Desire2Learn rolls out online education service to rival Coursera & Udacity

Impressions from Rupalli Thacker-

To be expected, right? I predict that many other LMS providers will start adding capabilities that enable delivery of MOOCs. This will in turn increase uptake by corporations. It is just a matter of time before LMS providers also enable efficient and effective tracking mechanisms for all the learning objects that complete a MOOC experience ( experience API should help). #MOOC #blended #distance learning

‘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’).

Hurdles to Social Learning and Knowledge Management


This post was originally in response to a discussion on LinkedIn to a targeted audience. I believe my readers here will find it useful. Here is a list of a few hurdles and suggestions to overcome them.

Executive Buy-In– In my opinion, this is the most important hurdle to be crossed. However, my experience proves that asking and involving executives to sponsor the initiative will lead to great success was proven at my former employers. The CEO Dame Marjorie Scardino sent an organization wide message communicating the importance of the initiative. She emphasized the strategic direction the organization needs to head toward, and the role of the social initiative in making that happen. Organizations that have not succeeded in implementing social collaboration software for their knowledge management activities need to lack of adoption may want to explore this aspect. If there is no C-Suite buy-in and push, it is likely that any social initiative will find only low to moderate success.

Content is one King, and the other is Design– Both play an equally important role: Design of the platform/tool and design of interactions. So one needs to think about UX, UI, and content. This hurdle can be crossed by implementing some of the best practices that have made networks such as LinkedIn, Facebook, and everyone’s any other favorite tool user-friendly, and worthy of attention due to content. Content is heavily dependent on participation. Participation by C-suite, senior leadership, and line managers can drive adoption of the initiative and the social collaboration platform. The platform then becomes a great knowledge management platform. For greater adoption spend time on encouraging, and onboarding people on the platform. Some suggestions to drive quality content- a) Invite ‘experts’ to share content in a non-threatening manner, b) invite experiences or achievements of groups, teams, individuals as a means to increase content on the platform. This strategy should drive more engagement, and further contribution.

Community Manager– This person plays an important role in enabling engagement, and training users on the platform. Repeated webinars/ conversations demonstrating the tool, the available content, the variety of interaction types, and interactions lead to engagement. An expert communicator with demonstrated interest and knowledge of managing communities will be a great asset to the success of the initiative.

Incentives– “Give me one reason why I should be doing more than I already do, and why, and why would I do this?” These are common questions asked by already overloaded individuals. Include game mechanics to give people an incentive to continue participation until content and interaction speak for themselves. Critics might say I am suggesting gamification of learning. On the contrary. I am encouraging learning designers, and community managers to think about using gamification to their advantage.

All of the above recommendations are assuming there is one unified platform that one would like to use. But if it is related to embedding Social-Learning opportunities within other modalities such as classroom-based learning, or within elearning it is crucial for a good learning design expert to lead the design of the interactions.

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