How MOOCs are used in workplace training

Over the past few months, I have written about the many benefits of using MOOCs in training programs and provided suggestions on how L&D departments can most effectively incorporate this new training format. In this article, we’ll look at some of the MOOCs that have been developed specifically for training purposes and business audiences, as well as how some companies are already using these courses as part of their workplace training and development programs.

Business and Training MOOCs

Some start-ups have recently developed training MOOCs. For now, they are mostly in the technology fields, but the scope is rapidly expanding. Additionally, the major MOOC providers now offer a variety of MOOCs aimed at a business audience.

  • Aquent Gym. Aquent, a staffing agency for the creative and marketing industries, recently launched Aquent Gymnasium, a MOOC provider offering technology courses for creative professionals. The first course, “Coding for Designers,” is a basic programming course for professional designers to help them work more effectively with software developers. The next two courses to be offered will focus on technologies for web design.
  • the muse Job search site The Muse has expanded into MOOCs. Although the target audience is job seekers, the available courses focus on soft skills that could be used for training, such as “Becoming a Network Master” and “Management 101.”
  • open SAP. Business management software company SAP offers several MOOCs for developers, including “Introduction to Software Development in SAP HANA”, “Introduction to Mobile Solution Development”, and “In-Memory Data Management”.
  • Mongo DB. Database company MongoDB offers training MOOCs on its database products.
  • Open Education Alliance. The Open Education Alliance is a recently announced collaboration between MOOC provider Udacity and companies like Google, Autodesk, AT&T, and NVidia. Each of the participating companies has pledged $250,000 to develop MOOCs to bridge the gap between what students learn in traditional universities and the skills employers seek. The alliance is also working on an alternative accreditation system for free online courses.
  • Academic MOOCs. As part of their ongoing search for a viable business model, Coursera and edX are also making plays for the business market. This fall, the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania put its first-year MBA courses on Coursera. All courses are eligible for verified certificates through the Signature Track program. MIT also recently announced a plan to develop an XSeries on supply chain management on the edX platform. Students who complete all three courses will earn a verified certificate from MITx. Finally, Stanford’s NovoED platform hosts a variety of entrepreneurship MOOCs including courses on leadership, finance, and decision-making. The Stanford Graduate School of Business launched its first MOOC, “The Finance of Retirement and Pensions,” on the platform this fall.

Examples of how companies use MOOCs

It is difficult to know exactly how many organizations are already using MOOCs and elements of MOOCs in their training and development programs, but we can point to some prominent examples.

  • McAfee. according to a Forbes report, computer security company McAfee recently used a MOOC model to solve one of its main training problems: Its new employee orientation process used to take more than 80 hours, and many employees did not complete the process. To address this issue, McAfee “changed the classroom,” so students access content on their own time and use class time for discussions and activities. McAfee said Forbes that the change resulted in both a reduction in training time and an increase in sales.
  • yahoo! yahoo! Sponsor your employees to earn verified certificates through Coursera’s Signature Track program. According to Patricia Brogan, manager of the Yahoo! Developer Academy, the company partnered with Coursera as a way to encourage employees to continue developing their technical skills so they can apply them to the design and creation of innovative new products.
  • JLT group. JLT insurance company has been using MOOCs as part of its employee training and development at various levels. According to an interview with Training Manager Sunder Ramachandran, the initiative aims to address the training needs of a diverse, young and changing workforce. So far, JLT employees have participated in Coursera’s “Intro to Public Speaking,” “Intro to Operations Management,” and a couple of introductory finance courses. According to Ramachandran, JLT has achieved “moderate success” with the program and is experimenting with using MOOCs in conjunction with small face-to-face study groups.

Using MOOCs in corporate and workplace education has benefits on all sides. For MOOC providers, training courses are a potential source of revenue, while for organizations they represent a way to deliver more effective training faster and at lower cost. With big initiatives funded by companies like the Open Education Alliance, we can expect to see more MOOCs developed specifically for training purposes in the near future. And as organizations continue to look for new ways to improve their training and development programs, we will no doubt see more companies choosing the MOOC model. For companies looking for new ways to deliver training, engage employees more meaningfully in the learning process, or offer more flexible and accessible training solutions, now is a great time to consider trying a MOOC.

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