Learning Café Call – L&D/HR should include MOOCs in employee learning strategies.

Learning Cafe Call on MOOCs

After some discussion amongst the Learning Café community, today we ready to make a prediction and this call, which we believe is significant for the HR & L&D community.

MOOCs (Massively Open Online Courses) can be a mainstream employee learning option. It offers cost effective solutions for organisations with the benefits far outweighing the challenges. L&D/HR need to be proactive in exploring and including MOOCs in learning strategies.

We are not claiming that MOOCs is a “silver bullet” or without its challenges. But for the right learning topic, right type of learner and right learning conditions, MOOCs provide a strong case to be used as a learning resource for employee development.

MOOCs are growing and evolving. The New York Times dubbed 2012 ‘The Year of the MOOC,’ and it has since become one of the hottest topics in education. MOOCs had exploded into the academic consciousness in summer 2011, when a free artificial-intelligence course offered by Stanford University in California attracted 160,000 students from around the world — 23,000 of whom finished it. Coursera, one of the largest MOOCs platform now has more than 300 courses and more than 2.7 million user accounts (with 2.3% from Australia).

However, most discussion about MOOCs has been about the implication on higher and continuing education sector. There is little discussion as yet on the potential for use of MOOCs for organisational or employee learning.Some Learning Cafe community members are experimenting using MOOC as a development resource for employees. We have also come across anecdotes where the use of MOOCs has not found organisational support for various reasons.

The HR & L&D community is reluctant to try out new learning delivery methods till has been proven elsewhere. While this approach has some justification, we contend that the benefits of using MOOCs far outweigh the challenges and risks. One reason for our confidence is the costs involved. Most MOOCs are available for free or are usually under A$100. The other reason is that MOOCs are likely to have high quality content as they are developed and run by some of the best Subject Matter Experts.

We recognise that the world of MOOCs is evolving rapidly and come in a variety of flavours (e.g. free, commercial, private providers, university run courses) and quality (i.e. from excellent – Gamification MOOC run by Kevin Werbach  from Penn Uni which I attended  to some which were amateurish).

If you are a Learning or HR professional you should  note this call and:

  • Find out what MOOCs are. Enrol in a MOOC that is relevant for you and complete it.
  • Explore adding MOOCs to your Learning Strategy. Actively think about how MOOCs can be used for employee (or extended enterprise learning).
  • Revisit your budgets and evaluate how MOOCs can offer cost savings by providing an alternative to current learning offerings.
  • Learn from MOOCs design. Well-designed MOOCs provide learners with a rich and effective learning experience by incorporating quality content, flexible delivery and collaborative learning. It will raise the bar on Learner expectations.

Learning Café is backing our call by forming a working group of learning managers from leading Australian organisations and running a proof of concept to explore the potential and challenges of MOOCs for employee learning.

  • Craig Bigham – Manager-Fellows Learning Support – Royal Australasian College of Physicians
  • Jasmine Malki – National Learning Manager – Holding Redlich
  • Les Lisz (National L&D Manager) & Ian MacLean (National ID Manager) – Australian Red Cross Blood Service
  • Michael Eichler – Head Learning & Leadership Development – IAG
  • Michelle Ockers – National Supply Chain Technical Capability Manager – Coca Cola Amatil
  • Nicola Atkinson – Head Learning – Ashurst
  • Ryan Tracey  eLearning Manager – AMP
  • Two others to be confirmed soon

The working group and the Proof of Concept will explore learner experience and the impact of MOOCs on the Learning function including learning strategy, design, processes and reporting. More details coming soon.

We are excited about starting on this journey of exploring MOOCs for employee learning and look forward to your support.

Kevin Werbach Learning Cafe MOOCs
MOOCs for Organisational Learning – Conversation with Kevin Werbach – Wharton School